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Issue 70 - The Chivas Life

Whisky Magazine Issue 70
February 2008

 

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The Chivas Life

In the first of a series of guest columns,we ask Chivas Brothers' Douglas Cruickshank about everyday life at the distillery. Last year Douglas celebrated 40 years in theScotch industry by being appointed operations director for Chivas Brothers responsible for all Scottish operations from distillation through to bottling for the world's no.2 Scotch whisky company. He lives opposite Glenallachie Distillery,near Aberlour in Speyside.

The Scotch industry is doing well at the moment. For the second year running we are set to chalk up an all time high in terms of bottles shipped from Scotland. That's a good thing. We are opening distilleries not closing them, launching new products and recruiting new people.

In fact I am currently reviewing a list of candidates to be the first in a new distillers' training scheme. During a recent upgrade of Glentauchers Distillery, I made the choice to keep the operation manual. The distillery will act as our own training ground for new distillers so they know every aspect of the distillery operation intimately. When they move on to a more automated operation, they will know the reality behind the computer screen. At the end of each day they are responsible for the quality of the spirit they have produced, so I need to arm them with all the knowledge they need, and what better way than to learn the way I did.

Unfortunately Imperial Distillery, where I started in 1967, is no longer running, but it was a happy circumstance when it came under my control a few years ago. Keep buying whisky and it might be the perfect excuse to reopen it. The Scotch industry is like that, you often bump into the same people and places.

Since taking on all of Chivas Brothers operations, I spend more than half my time in the south of Scotland, close to our bottling operations as well as our spirit quality and blending teams.

Spirit quality has always been a key area for me, but bottling is equa...

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