Whisky Magazine Issue 106
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Joel Harrison talks to two generations about life in the whiskey world
In the same way that a cask is vital in adding colour and flavour to spirit over the years, the stories which surround most distilleries serve the same purpose: to add colour and flavour to the background of the malt.
From the original founder striving to gather his pennies together in a bid to build the place, through to the distillery cat whose ghost lives on in a creaking warehouse, these anecdotes provide a rich tapestry of heritage for the distillery and serve to enhance the mythology around the alchemy of turning water, yeast and barley in to the drink we all love.
One star of the show when it comes to legend and myth is the exciseman. Installed at a distillery to keep detailed records of the taxable products produced, as well as to enforce customs and excise laws, these chaps were key figures for the British government's bean counters in making sure that nothing was slipping under the radar from filling the nation's coffers.
From 1967, for 34 years, Ian Milne took on the role of one of the most talked about people in the history of Scottish distilling: the exciseman; working at Strathisla, Ardmore, and Strathmill to name a few distilleries that were under his watch. Now retired, his legacy doesn't stop there as his son, Jamie, is the UK brand ambassador for Glenfiddich.
Ian explains how he started his journey into the Scotch industry: "my Grandfather lived next door to Glenugie distillery in Peterhead, which is gone now sadly. I got to know the people at the distil...