Whisky Magazine Issue 86
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Classic malt distillery Dalwhinnie is revamping its visitor experience. Dominic Roskrow spoke to the man charged with ringing the changes.
The first day in a new job is always a bit of an ordeal. For Ewan Mackintosh it was more than that.
Indeed, you would have called it a baptism of fire if the phrase wasn't so totally inappropriate.
For Mackintosh arrived to start work at Dalwhinnie just after the worst snow deposits the distillery had seen in years. Not only did he and his new work colleagues find that they had to dig themselves in, but once through the doors they found a distillery frozen solid.
“All the pipe work to the mash tuns, to the worm tub and throughout the distillery were frozen solid,” he says. “Some of them are as wide as a thigh and they were completely frozen through.
“I'd left Oban and moved here and the house had no water for the first week and at first there was no heating. But I had been given a bottle of Oban as a leaving present and before that I'd spent some time on Islay and had brought back a bag of peat. So we made a peat fire in the grate and heated some soup, which we were able to give to the removal men. And we washed it down with the Oban.
“We finally got the boiler working at the distillery and dismantled the pipework and put each part in the boiler room to defrost it.
It took a week to get it all up and running.
We have gritting facilities and a snow plough and we were going out twice a day just to keep everything clear. It was quite incredible.
Huge safety issues because of the ice, and icicles like sabres.
“It was pretty severe for a while. I got snowed in...