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Issue 89 - Keep it in the family

Whisky Magazine Issue 89
July 2010


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Keep it in the family

Once upon a time it was natural to pass a business down through the generations. Now, though, they are fewer jobs for life and lots of alternatives. Dominic Roskrow speaks to some whisky folk who have followed in their father's footsteps.

If you've spent a good part of your adult life campaigning against nepotism and family inheritance, the world of whisky is something of a choker.

Not only is the concept of handing the family business on to the next generation common in whisky, it's positively encouraged. And not only do you come to accept this when you immerse yourself in all things whisky, but you find yourself embracing it whole-heartedly. For truth be told, these family links are a cornerstone of the very provenance and heritage which has played such an important role in making whisky the success story it is today.

This was brought home to me with two back to back incidents some years ago. The first came from a conversation with David Robertson, then master distiller for The Macallan, about quality blends. I was singing the praises of Dewar's Signature.

“And you know the core malt in that is Aberfeldy 27 Years Old,” I raved.

“Aye, I do,” replied David. “And the Aberfeldy in that bottle you're drinking – well my dad would have made it.” The other came during the Classic Malts cruise when I arrived at Port Askaig with a group of American Johnnie Walker brand ambassadors and noticed group leader Gregor Cattanach standing apart taking in the view of Caol Ila before him.

“It's always emotional coming back here,” he said, and then nodded to the distillery manager's house. “I was born there.” It's at moments like these that it dawns on you that this link between the generations cements...

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