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Issue 34 - Lead on Macduff

Whisky Magazine Issue 34
October 2003


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Lead on Macduff

Speyside's most eastern distillery is something of an enigma, but it's not without influence. Ian Buxton paid it a visit.

The towns of Macduff and Banff are located in the North-East of Scotland, on either side of the banks of the River Deveron, reputedly a “first-class, second-class salmon river”. Both are ancient settlements, today characterised by attractive architecture, spectacular cliff scenery and two busy harbours.

Over time, Macduff outgrew its neighbour, perhaps because, as one of Cumberland's staff officers wrote at the time of the '45, “the town, I believe, lives chiefly by smuggling.”

Separated, not just by the entrepreneurial spirit of their ancestors and the river, they are forever joined by John Smeaton's elegant seven arched bridge of 1779.

In 1740 the then Baron Braco (later Earl Fife) commissioned the renowned Scottish architect William Adam to build nearby Duff House at a cost of some £6.5 million. Well, alright, it was actually just over £70,000 but that's its equivalent in 21st century money. Today it's an art gallery.

And it was here – in the old orchard of Duff House, right on the Macduff banks of the Deveron – that, in 1960, a consortium of Glasgow-based whisky brokers and businessmen built their new distillery.

It's the most easterly of the Speyside distilleries and not without influence, even if Macduff and its Glen Deveron single malt are little known in the United Kingdom.

The William Lawsons blend, with Glen Deveron at its heart, is even more anonymous in its homeland, but both are big sellers in Europe, being particularly popular in France, It...

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