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Loyal Keith stillman hangs up overalls after 40 years


By Lorna Thompson

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A WELL-KENT Keith stillman will hang up his overalls after 40 years' service with Chivas.

Ian McIntosh, known as Tosh, will retire after 21 years as a stillman at Strathisla, his home town distillery, on October 30.

Operating the stills since 1992, Ian previously worked at Glen Keith and Longmorn, starting off in warehousing when he left school at age 15.

Ian (63), from Keith's Muldearie View, has witnessed some radical changes in the role over the years.

He said: "The job has changed completely in my time – automation being the main one – and of course the withdrawal of customs officers.

"For most of my time there it has been a one-man operation. There are still some manual elements to the job but it's mainly automated now.

"However, the result is the same."

Ian is a fan of the result, declaring himself a true fan of Chivas whiskies.

He said he would miss the staff at Strathisla and the place, seen as the "heart and soul of Chivas". He said the distillery was "one of the best", adding: "Strathisla looks just how a distillery should.

Stillman Ian McIntosh puts his feet up after 40 years' service in the distilling industry – 21 of those at Keith's Strathisla Distillery. Picture: Eric Cormack.
Stillman Ian McIntosh puts his feet up after 40 years' service in the distilling industry – 21 of those at Keith's Strathisla Distillery. Picture: Eric Cormack.

"And it's a very good employer for the area. It's a busy place so it'll be a big jump to go from that into retirement.

"I've thoroughly enjoyed the stilling."

Ian added: "Whisky just gets bigger and bigger – it's a real success story."

He plans to pick up some new hobbies and spend more time with wife Wilma and grown-up children Lisa (30) and Sean (26), who plays in goal for Dufftown FC.

He added: "I'll take it easy over the winter and then get out and about meeting people. I sold my golf clubs many years ago but I might get doing that again. It's not the best time to pick up a new hobby with the Covid situation but I hope to do that."

Meanwhile the distillery has organised creepy walkabouts for Halloween as part of the new Strathisla Strolls initiative, where guides will recount tales of local witches and ghostly goings-on.

Spaces are limited and should be booked at https://www.maltwhiskydistilleries.com/strathisla/tours.


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