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Issue 84 - 50 not out

Whisky Magazine Issue 84
November 1999

 

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50 not out

In these times when both job security and loyalty are so often at a premium, it seems remarkable that one man has worked for the same company for 50 years.

Even in the Scotch whisky industry, where family dynasties and long service tend to be more common than in many other businesses, the story of Dennis McBain is a highly unusual one.

McBain clocked up his half century of service to William Grant & Sons Ltd at their Glenfiddich and Balvenie distilleries in the Speyside whisky ‘capital' of Dufftown, on 29th October.

He is the last remaining resident distillery coppersmith in Scotland, and is himself part of a ‘whisky family dynasty.' “My grandfather worked at Glenfiddich and my father was 20 years here,” he explains “As well as myself, three of my brothers have also been at the distillery at various times.

“I joined William Grant & Sons in 1958, and I never knew another distillery, even then, that had its own coppersmith. I was apprenticed to Willie McLauchlin who had been taken on by Grant's to do copper work.

“I started off in the maltings, like most people did in those days, but then I was offered an extra penny an hour to go into the engineering department. It was a five year apprenticeship to learn the trade of coppersmithing, followed by one ‘approver' year, before I started to receive the full coppersmiths' wage.

McBain points out that until the late 1970s, the team at ‘Willie Grant's' constructed all the stills and condensers required for Balve...

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