John McDougall började som
’trainee manager’ i whiskybranschen i
av 1960-talet. Över 40 år senare arbetar
och är just nu inblandad i fyra nya destilleriprojekt
(tre i Skottland, ett i USA).
Men varför bygga
nytt hemma i Skottland,
räcker det inte med det som finns?
Och är nybyggarandan bra för branschen som helhet?
Do we need new whisky on
Much has been written and commented on regarding the sale of well known
Scottish malt whisky distilleries and the absolute knowledge that there are
a good few more which could be purchased by the right people and of course
for an appropriate price to the seller. Many people cannot understand the
need or indeed the benefits of building new distilleries/companies, four of
which are currently planned and are all at different stages in their
On the one hand, the question could, and probably has been asked by many:
“Why, if there are all these distilleries available, is it sensible to build
With the utmost respect to those people, I would suggest that they have
missed the point completely! The point being, that the distilleries which
are up for sale, and which have recently been sold into new ownership did
not “fit” with the business plans/strategies of the selling companies, so
therefore in their infinite wisdom the strategists have won the day in these
companies. Time alone will prove whether the decisions which have been
taken, will be successful. By the time that happens however, today’s
decision makers will have moved on, as is usually the case (I know about
such matters from personal experience). It should not be forgotten however
that the industry went through this kind of “musical chairs scenario” around
100 years ago so there is nothing new in most of what is currently
Back to the new projects, these will all be bespoke facilities, only
producing “hands on” quality malt whiskies in small quantities but with the
additional loving care that only small/tiny can provide. Therefore the
industry is really polarising into what appears to be three distinct camps:
1) The Giants who are catering for the mass market world wide offering
2) The old and the new Independents who have bought some of the recently
available distilleries and also in some cases very good Blend brands.
3) The New projects with their hopes and dreams still intact, and when some,
or all (hopefully) come on stream will add a definite enrichment right
across the spectrum.
All this activity is good for consumers as it makes for a broader based
competition and this has most certainly not been the case for quite some
time. More importantly it ought to contribute to building a more individual
and responsible “brand loyalty”. This can only be in the best interests of
the farmers, the maltsters, the distillers, the warehousekeepers, the
bottlers, the packagers, the distributors, the shopkeepers, and last but not
least the people who fund it all, THE CONSUMERS – too often ignored to the
extent of arrogance shown to them, but without whom there would be no whisky
I am therefore more optimistic than for some time about the well being and
future prospects for our Great industry, and would sincerely congratulate
those companies who have either extended their distilling activities or
those who have joined the ranks of becoming distillers.
Well done to all those companies, but also let’s now absolutely encourage
those aspiring new distillers and their projects. They will be “The new kids
on the Block!!
Facts I. The biggie Highland Distillers sold Bunnahabhain to Burn
Stewart and Glengoyne to Ian Macleod. Another giant, Pernod Ricard, sold
Edradour to independent Signatory. And prior to that American Jim Beam
Brands sold Bruichladdich to independent Murray McDavid.
Facts II. John McDougall is involved as a distillery planner on a
consultancy basis in four different projects. The small Scottish farm
distilleries of Kilchoman on Islay and Daftmill in Fife, and the larger
Blackwood on the Shetlands, and Glen Kelley in Rocky Mountains, California.