Whisky Magazine Issue 14
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David Stirk makes a pilgrimage to the heart of Speyside to meet Fiona Murdoch at the Whisky Shop, Dufftown, and collect his medal for visiting this 'obscure corner of Scotland'
Until three years ago, Dufftown, the heart of Speyside and malt whisky country, did not have a whisky shop. It had a kilt maker, seven distilleries, a cooperage and a clock tower but nowhere to buy uisge beatha. A paradoxical situation comparable to visiting Cuba and finding that it does not even have a solitary cigar emporium.
“Before opening The Whisky Shop I had an art gallery in the same shop,” Fiona Murdoch the proprietor of The Whisky Shop explains, “people kept coming in and saying ‘Nice paintings, but where can we buy whisky?' Then I realised I was selling the wrong thing.
“Being brought up in Dufftown meant that whisky was too close to me and it took me a while to realise that that was what people wanted to buy. There was no dedicated whisky shop in the whisky capital, even though there are specialist whisky shops elsewhere in the world. There are still local people who can't believe I only sell whisky.”
Fiona grew up in Dufftown spending her childhood years in the family home, Kininvie House. At this time William Grant & Sons were building a new distillery and were holding a competition for their employees to name it. One such employee, who happened to be a friend of the Murdoch family, put forward the name Kininvie and duly won. Fiona can recall her parents receiving a letter from William Grant & Sons informing them of the new distillery's name and promising a case of the whisky when bottled. That was ten years ago. Fiona must be wondering how much...