Whisky Magazine Issue 116
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Out man visits the hear of Whyte and Mackay's grain supply
When production started at Scotland's northernmost grain distillery in Invergordon during July 1961, the initial omens were not good. The late Yorkshire-born excise officer and author Irvine Butterfield was based at the site and recalled that the stillman was a former baker's roundsman, with no previous experience of distilling.
Interviewed for The Whisky Men a decade ago, Butterfield noted: “When they began to do the first distillation the whole plant shook like crazy. Worried, the stillman asked me what I thought was wrong. I told him I wasn't sure, but that I was going to get off the viewing platform immediately because something was obviously wrong and the whole place might blow up.
“The stillman closed the still down and we eventually discovered that no water was getting through because a ball cock in the water supply tank was rusted up. We also discovered a slight bend in one of the pipes, and the whole still column had obviously been very close to buckling and imploding at the time we shut down the still.”
However, the distillery – established by Invergordon Distillers Ltd – survived those early teething troubles and has quietly gone on turning out large quantities of well-regarded grain spirit for more than half a century. In 1963 the initial column still was supplemented by two more in order to substantially upgrade capacity, and two years later Invergordon followed the prevailing trend of installing a malt distilling plant within existing grain distill...