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Longstanding Balblair distillery manager retires

Keeper of the Quaich John MacDonald, who has been distillery manager at the Tain site for 18 years, has handed the baton to former Speyburn assistant distillery manager David Rogerson.

Longstanding Balblair distillery manager retires
John MacDonald and successor David Rogerson

MacDonald finished his final shift on the 3 May 2024 after nearly 18 years at the Scotch whisky distillery, when he took the helm back in August 2006.

His retirement comes nearly 35 years on from the day he joined the whisky industry. MacDonald began his career as a warehouseman at Glenmorangie Distillery, where he worked his way up the ranks over 17 years to the post of assistant distillery manager.

He then made the move to take up the top job at Balblair, as he says, “without even reading the contract” — such was his admiration for the whisky being made at the Edderton site.

MacDonald was responsible for leading the distillery’s sustainability programme, which includes the move away from heavy fuel and recent installation of TVR (thermal vapour recompression) technology to improve energy efficiency.

Parent company International Beverage has announced his successor is David Rogerson, who will move from his post as assistant distillery manager at Speyburn to the Balblair distillery manager role.

Rogerson gained a degree in Brewing and Distilling before taking up a position at Marston’s Eagle Brewery in Bedfordshire. He joined Speyburn Distillery in 2020, also owned by International Beverage.

International Beverage managing director Malcolm Leask said of MacDonald’s departure: “In John, we couldn’t have asked for a better custodian of our wonderful Balblair single malt Scotch whisky. He has given us his best for nearly two decades and leaves our whisky and distillery in a stronger place for the future. We thank you John for your exceptional service. It’s good to know that your skill and craftsmanship will be present in every bottle of Balblair for many years to come.”

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