Perthshire’s Aberfeldy Distillery has a new manager.

Inverness-born John MacKenzie (43) takes hold of the reins this month.

The distillery was built by the sons of Scottish businessman and Scotch whisky pioneer, John Dewar, in 1896.

Today it is part of spirits company Bacardi, which operates five distilleries across Scotland.

In his new role, John will manage the small team of distillery operators whose skill and craftsmanship creates over 70,000 litres of spirit every week, ready to be matured and blended by the team including master blender Stephanie MacLeod.

John, who is married with two young daughters, began his career more than 20 years ago with a summer job at an Inverness whisky shop.

He joined Bacardi in 2006 as an operator at Royal Brackla Distillery, near Nairn, passed his General Certificate of Distillation two years later, took on production assistant secondments and eventually came to Aberfeldy in 2013 as second-in-command to distillery manager Carol More.

John said: “I’m incredibly proud to be stepping up to this position.

“The distillery has been an important part of the local community for more than 120 years and it’s an honour to now play a small part in its story over the coming years.

“As well as creating the fabulous Aberfeldy whisky, a lot of people don’t realise that the single malt we make here is at the heart of the Dewar’s blend, the best-selling Scotch whisky in America. I think that’s something we should all be really proud of.”

A key element of John’s new role will see him deliver
the distillery’s sustainability targets.

Already in place is a biomass boiler which drastically reduces its carbon footprint and, this year, John will oversee the switch to a boiler fuel with a lower greenhouse gas footprint.

He said: “I really do have the dream job.

“Not only do I work with an incredible team in an industry I love, making a whisky I love, but I also get to come to work each day surrounded by the beautiful Aberfeldy scenery.

“Respecting and protecting that local environment by making further improvements to our sustainability is one of the things I’m most excited to get stuck into. It’s all about doing the right thing.”

In recent months the team has also been turning its hand to the production of hand sanitiser to help combat the spread of COVID-19.

“It has been a strange time to take on the role in the midst of the coronavirus crisis,” said John.

He added: “But it’s also been really rewarding to jump straight into doing something that makes a genuine difference.”