Whisky Magazine Issue 28
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William Delmé-Evans designed no less than three distilleries. Gavin D. Smith talked to him
William Delmé-Evans has been described as a latter-day Charles Doig, yet while the important role played in the development of the whisky industry by that Elgin-based 19th century architect has finally been acknowledged, William Delmé-Evans remains a lesser-known figure.
During the two decades following the end of the Second World War, Delmé-Evans was at the forefront of Scotland's distilling renaissance, much as Doig had been during the great Speyside expansion of the late 19th century.
Now aged 83, Delmé-Evans lives quietly in retirement on the Herefordshire farm he bought 45 years ago, but is happy to reminisce with great clarity about his life and the projects with which he has been associated.
His fame within the distilling industry rests chiefly on three principal projects; the creation of Tullibardine Distillery in Perthshire, the reconstruction of the long-derelict Jura Distillery, and the construction of Glenallachie Distillery on Speyside.
Born in Wales, the exotic ‘Delmé' comes courtesy of a dash of French blood, but the Speyside Grants also figure prominently in his family lineage. Delmé-Evans' first recollections of brewing date back to the age of seven, when he used to watch an aunt in Carmarthenshire brewing beer on the family estate's home-farm during summer holidays. “My aunt used to brew two hogsheads of beer every year, which she plied to the tenants on Quarter Day when they came to pay their rent,” he recalls.
Aged 12, he visited his first...