Whisky Magazine Issue 70
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Ian Wisniewski talks with Christine McCafferty,Diageo's archive manager
IAN Can you tell me the history of the archive?
CHRISTINE It started in 1990 when what was then United Distillers decided to create an archive of the historical material of the brand companies and distilleries in one place.
They employed a historian, Dr Morgan, who is now global marketing director for the malts, to do this. In 2001 we moved to our present site in Scotland, we were fortunate that this lovely stone building was here, and we took the opportunity to build new stores onto the side of it.
IAN What period does the archive cover ?
CHRISTINE The majority of the collections start in the mid to late 19th century. Things like production books from distilleries and sales records, as well as packaging, tend to start in the 1880s. In the Johnnie Walker collection there's an inventory from 1825, not long after John Walker set up the grocery shop.
IAN What's the range of items within the archive?
CHRISTINE We've catalogued about half a million items, but each catalogue entry might contain up to 20 – 30 individual items, and there's still some material uncatalogued.
The range is huge, if you look at a Scotch whisky company like Johnnie Walker we have old minute books, awards, marketing materials, as well as the packaging collection, bottles and label books, recipes and a photographic collection. We've got a book that contains notes by Sir Alexander Walker from about 1914-1916, with his recipes for Johnnie Walker Red Label, Black Label, and some other brands as well.