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Issue 15 - A future classic from a modern distillery

Whisky Magazine Issue 15
April 2001

 

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A future classic from a modern distillery

John Lamond visits the Isle of Arran Distilleryy, a modern distillery that produces a whisky that may well have enthusiasts challenging their own perception of what is their favourite malt

One man's vision can be a truly wondrous thing. Like a whirl-pool, an innovative idea pulls others into its thrall. Such a visionary is Harold Currie.

Harold had been Managing Director of Chivas Brothers, a subsidiary of Seagram and the company which produces and markets Chivas Regal, and latterly Managing Director of Campbell Distillers. Harold's vision was to establish a completely new distillery. On his retirement
from Chivas, he set about the realisation of his dream.

He looked at several sites in the Scottish lowlands but decided to look elsewhere for his location. In the early ‘90s an architect friend, who lives at Whiting Bay on Arran's south-east coast, attended the annual dinner of the Glasgow Arran Society and heard the guest speaker talk of the previous Arran Distillery, which had been located at Lagg on the south coast. This had ceased production around 1837. Harold's friend was amazed to hear the speaker state that, in its time, “it was known as the best in Scotland.” He reported this tale to Harold, thus redirecting his quest to an unconsidered corner of Scotland.

The Isle of Arran is often referred as ‘Scotland in Miniature'. It has an area of 43,201 hectares (106,750 acres) and, at the summit of Goat Fell, peaks at 874 metres (2,867 feet). Arran is regularly visited by students of geology as the island has been described as a “complete
synopsis of Scottish geology”. The south is composed of new red sandstone peppered with erratics – huge...

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