Balblair Head Decides To Step Down From His Role

One of the world’s most respected and admired whisky distillers has decided to call it a day after 35 years in the industry.

For over three decades, John MacDonald has worked with some of the Scotch whisky industry’s biggest players, and he’s steered the ship at the iconic Balblair since 2006.

With John at the helm, the Balblair distillery has gone from strength to strength, building a strong team and opening an award-winning visitor experience, as well as leading the distillery’s sustainability programme, which has seen them move from heavy fuel in favour of TVR (thermal vapour recompression) technology to improve energy efficiency.

From a young age, John had always wanted to work in the whisky industry, and he got his break as a warehouseman at Glenmorangie Distillery, where he began to work his way up the ladder to eventually secure the position of Assistant Distillery Manager after 17 years. 

Shortly after, he was offered the top job at Balblair, which he duly accepted without even reading over the contract, such was his admiration being created at their Highlands home.

John has left an indelible mark not just on the Tain-based distillery but on the whisky industry in general, and his work colleagues paid a fitting tribute – with a toast of the whisky-makers’ finest single malt.  

“My time as Distillery Manager at Balblair has been a huge honour and a job that I have thoroughly enjoyed over the years,” John said, as reported by The Herald. “Balblair is an exceptional single malt whisky that I’ve been so proud to craft and represent over the years, following in the footsteps of a long line of makers going back to 1790.”

“I want to say a huge thank you to the distillery team, past and present, for their craftsmanship, dedication and friendship, with a particular mention to Assistant Manager Norman Laing, who is the best in the business and whose help has been invaluable.”

Replacing John as the head of Balblair will be David Rogerson, who will cross the Kessock Bridge after moving on from his role as Assistant Distillery Manager at Speyburn.

“I also want to offer a warm welcome to David, and to wish him the very best of luck in the role. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside him in the past few months and I know that Balblair is in very good hands for future generations,” John added.

Thanking John for his many years of service, International Beverage Managing Director Malcolm Leask said: “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.”

If you own any whisky shares in the company, it’ll be interesting to see what impact this news has.