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Macduff Distillery which has helped fight coronavirus celebrates 60th anniversary


By Chris Saunderson

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A BANFFSHIRE distillery which has supported the fight against coronavirus is celebrating 60 years in existence today.

Macduff Distillery – which has been producing hand sanitiser – officially opened on September 1, 1960.

Jamie Winfield with his team of operators at Macduff Distillery. Picture: Ross Johnston
Jamie Winfield with his team of operators at Macduff Distillery. Picture: Ross Johnston

Founded by four Glasgow businessmen and built on what was formerly the gardens for Duff House estate on the banks of the river Deveron, it was one of the first single malt distilleries to go into operation following the Second World War.

As government controls on the distilling industry – including malt and grain rationing – were lifted in 1959, Macduff was part of a new era of distilleries which began opening in the 1960s, built to meet the resulting increase in demand for whisky.

The Scotch whisky distillery which produces single malt The Deveron and is used in the blend for William Lawsons has been part of Bacardi for almost 30 years. A family-owned spirits company with 158 years of history, Bacardi operates five distilleries across Scotland – Aberfeldy, Royal Brackla, Craigellachie, Aultmore and Macduff.

Back in 1960, Macduff Distillery’s first manager was James Nicol who oversaw the bottling of its first whisky in 1968 – a five-year-old, labelled Macduff Pure Highland Malt Scotch Whisky.

The official opening of the distillery 60 years ago. Picture: Bodies of Banff.
The official opening of the distillery 60 years ago. Picture: Bodies of Banff.

Jamie Winfield is the manager today and he said: "The distillery’s history and its importance to the local area is always front of mind when I walk in each morning. It’s a real privilege to be part of its past, present and future as we build on generations of craftsmanship and skill, alongside the very latest technology, to create incredible whiskies that are enjoyed around the world.

"This week, both here at the distillery and with our 7000-strong global Bacardi family, we’re taking a moment to celebrate a successful 60 years in the whisky business for Macduff – here’s to many more fantastic years to come.”

When the Macduff Distillery was designed, great care was taken to use the most up-to-date technology for the time to ensure it was as energy efficient as possible. Today, that focus on sustainability and technology remains key for the distillery, and for Jamie, making further improvements to its green credentials is top of the agenda.

Mr Winfield added: “With the coronavirus crisis, recent months have thrown many challenges our way, but I have an amazing team and we’ve adapted quickly. At the same time, it’s been especially rewarding to make a genuine difference for our local community in the fight against Covid-19 by producing hand sanitiser.”

How it looked in 1960. Picture: Bodies of Banff.
How it looked in 1960. Picture: Bodies of Banff.

In total, alongside its sister distilleries and Glasgow operations centre, Macduff Distillery has produced more than 15,000 litres of hand sanitiser over the past month, which has been donated to frontline workers including the Scottish Ambulance Association, Scottish Fire and Rescue, and more locally, the Banff Ambulance Service, Macduff Fire Service, Buckie Ambulance Service and numerous local care homes, hospitals and medical centres. Macduff is one of 14 Bacardi production sites worldwide which have produced over 1.5 million litres for donation to local communities.

Glasgow-based Jacqueline Seargeant, Global Heritage Manager for Bacardi, is responsible for archiving the rich history of Bacardi’s distilleries in Scotland.

She said: “At Bacardi we have 158 years of history, going right back to the founding of the company in Cuba in 1862. Recording and sharing those stories is what my team and I do every day. I’ve loved delving into the archives ahead of the Macduff 60th and uncovering the news cuttings, photographs and even video footage which documents the distillery’s past.

The distillery produces single malt The Deveron.
The distillery produces single malt The Deveron.

“It was a significant moment for the local area when Macduff opened its doors. There was an official opening on 1st September 1960 which was attended by the Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire, Colonel Sir George W. Abercromby 8th Baronet D.S.O, as well as local business people, members of the whisky industry and the local press.

“This period was the dawning of a new era in distilling processes. Production at Macduff was simple and compact, focusing on energy saving techniques such as lagged pot stills which were also steam heated and the use of gravity instead of pumps. It’s fantastic to see that respect for the distillery’s beautiful natural surroundings still firmly in place today.

“From changes in ownership to adapting to changes in technology and whisky production techniques, it’s been a fascinating journey for Macduff over the last six decades, and I have no doubt there will be many more amazing stories to come.”



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