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Issue 138 - Coming of Age

Whisky Magazine Issue 138
September 2016

 

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Coming of Age

Looking back on 21 years of distilling at Lochranza

The Isle of Arran is the Firth of Clyde's largest island, and in years gone by its rugged terrain provided an ideal hideaway for illicit distillers, while its proximity to Ayrshire and the city of Glasgow meant that eager customers were never too far away. Indeed, the popularity of ‘Arran water' was such that in 1824 the geologist and Hebridean traveller John McCulloch described it as ‘the Burgundy of all vintages.' Sadly, this reputation didn't prevent the island's last legal distillery, at Lagg, from closing in 1837.

It would be over 150 years until plans for a new distillery would begin to take shape. In the early 1990s, following a career that included positions as Managing Director of Chivas Brothers (under Seagram) and House of Campbell (under Pernod), the then recently retired Harold ‘Hal' Currie started to seriously consider launching a distillery of his own. However it was not until his friend David Hutchison – an accomplished Glasgow architect who had worked with Hal on projects for White Heather Distillers – attended a meeting of the Arran Society of Glasgow, on 8 March 1991, that the Isle of Arran was considered as a possible location for such an endeavour.

Hal initially had a healthy scepticism of his own vision; after all, the 1980s had seen many distillery closures. However, the reopening of Linkwood, Deanston and Ben Nevis in 1990 had also not escaped his notice. Furthermore, Hal recognised that a distillery on the Isle of Arran would be bolstered ...

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