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Issue 62 - Spirit of the architect

Whisky Magazine Issue 62
March 2007

 

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Spirit of the architect

Ian Buxton looks at the man behind the iconic pagoda,his contemporaries and his legacy

Stop reading this article now – and draw a distillery. Then come back to this page.

Chances are your sketch, however crude, has a pagoda roof somewhere in the design.

You didn't have to think about it, it was just there. Without it, your picture wouldn't really look like a distillery. With it, the building instantly says ‘distillery'. It just feels right.

One man is responsible for this: Charles Chree Doig (1855 – 1918).

He started life with some advantages. For one thing, he was born in Scotland which, in the 19th century, meant that despite his humble background (his father was a farm labourer) he received a decent secondary education. And, for another, he moved to Elgin in 1882 to join a surveyor's practice, having trained in architecture in Perthshire.

That meant he was in the right place, at the right time. Imagine being an architect, in the heart of distilling country, at the start of the greatest distillery construction boom Scotland has ever seen.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

By the late Victorian period whisky was enjoying unprecedented popularity. Everrising levels of demand meant that existing distilleries were expanded and new ones built.

Charles Doig was the principal architect of this expansion and, almost single-handedly, defined what we think a distillery should look like.

His achievements were prodigious though, sadly, his name is not well known outside the industry and much of his work has been lost – swept away by ‘progress' in subseq...

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