Meet the Masters

We’re always striving to stay one step ahead of the curve. Constantly innovating and evolving to create great products, made with barrel-loads of passion and care. And nowhere is this passion and pioneering spirit more evident than in the expertise and guidance of our three masters of brewery, distillery and wine. So let’s find out a little more about them.

Fergus Fitzgerald – Head Brewer

Fergus has been our head brewer since 2008, overseeing old favourites as well as creating exciting new tipples. Having studied Biotechnology, he landed a job at Fuller’s in London where he developed a love for the mix of science and creativity and started studying brewing.

In 2004, he was tempted away from the big smoke by the fresh Southwold sea air and a position at Adnams, working under then Head Brewer Mike Powell-Evans. And when Mike retired, Fergus took over – relishing the opportunity to come up with new ideas and make them a reality, as well as maintaining the high standards of existing products. Since then, he and his talented team have busied themselves with new developments including our Jack Brand range, our speciality beers and our low-alcohol range – most notably the award-winning Ghost Ship 0.5%, brewed using an innovative reverse osmosis process to preserve flavour. And that thirst for new ideas shows no sign of abating, with Adnams currently collaborating with four British breweries to create four unique brews in celebration of the 10th birthday of Ghost Ship 4.5%.

Fergus can't pick a favourite tipple but he is currently enjoying our hazy New England IPA.

John McCarthy – Head Distiller

John joined Adnams in 2001 as part of the brewery engineering team, with a background in control systems. Essentially, it was his job to keep the brewery running. But it was almost by chance that he found himself running our Copper House Distillery in Southwold.

Discussing the planned distillery project with Jonathan Adnams on a flight back from the US, John asked: “Who’s going to run the distillery when it has been installed?” Jonathan replied that he hadn’t thought about it, so John took the plunge and asked if he could do it, igniting a love of spirits. At the start, it was just two or three days a week, but soon grew to be his primary role. Gin and Vodka were the original idea, and there were no plans to move into whisky. Then, in 2011, after a discussion with Jonathan, it was decided to make some whisky, put it in casks and see what happens! It began with just 10 casks initially. Then Jonathan decided they should make a little more, and two types – triple and single malt – and the rest is history.

John and his team have gone on to create a selection of award-winning spirits including the World's Best Vodka, Longshore and the World's Best Gin, Copper House! We can all cheers to that.

James Davis – Master of Wine

The Master of Wine qualification is regarded as one of the highest standards of knowledge in the wine industry, with only a small, quite prestigious ‘club’ of people having attained it. For James, it didn’t just give him a rare level of expertise, but also taught him a lot about how to use data and insight to achieve the right decisions and assessments – skills he puts to good use at Adnams.

James first became interested in European culture and products living in Portugal in his early 20s. Then, after securing a graduate trainee position at Tesco, he began studying wine – combining his love of Europe and product to give himself a career advantage. This culminated in his MW qualification in 2013, beforing joining Adnams in 2017. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the Portuguese connection, James’s favourite wine is Madeira – drunk chilled in the late morning – and is also partial to vintage Champagne. And although he believes it’s worth paying a bit more for wine, there are gems to be found for under £10 – such as our £7.99 Pecorino, which he considers fantastic value for money.

And for those who want to learn more about the often intimidating world of wine, James has some simple advice: “Just find something you enjoy tasting and drinking and find an angle that appeals to you. The great thing is that wine is such a diverse, interesting topic that you can find your angle.”