TRIBUTES have been paid to Janet Roberts, Scotland’s oldest person and the matriarch of one of the country’s foremost whisky dynasties, who has died at the age of 110.
Mrs Roberts, who was born in the year that Queen Victoria died, passed away at home after a long life she once attributed to “hard work and plenty of laughter”.
The First Minister, Alex Salmond, joined members of the Grant whisky family in paying tribute on Wednesday. Mrs Roberts – who had a special limited- edition bottle of whisky produced in her honour for her 110th birthday – was the last surviving grand-daughter of William Grant, the founder of the Dufftown-based distillery company, William Grant and Sons, and the man who created Glenfiddich, one of the world’s best-selling single malts.
Known as “Wee Janie” to members of the Grant family, Mrs Roberts died on 6 April at Hazelhead House in Speyside, a short distance from the Glenfiddich distillery.
At her birthday celebrations last August, Mrs Roberts said: “I’ve learned much from my grandfather, William Grant, who taught me the value of self-belief, hard work and determination.”
Peter Gordon, her great nephew and current chairman of the family business, said: “We have lost an incredible woman. My great aunt’s contributions to the business, and support for the family members who did so much to make the company the success it is today, were immeasurable.”
He added: “She lived a remarkable life and witnessed great change at the Glenfiddich distillery and she will be sadly missed by all of us.”
Mr Salmond said: “She had a very long life, and my condolences go to all her family and friends at this sad time. Her secret to a long life are wise words indeed.”
Mrs Roberts was born on 13 August, 1901 – seven months after the death of Queen Victoria – in the schoolhouse in the Cabrach, the scattered community on the rugged stretch of moorland to the south of Dufftown. Her father, Charles, had been the local schoolmaster before becoming a director of the family firm, William Grant and Sons.
Mrs Roberts studied law at Glasgow University. Following her graduation, she practised for a number of years with McGrigor Donald, where she met her future husband Eric Roberts. Mr Roberts, who was chairman of William Grant and Sons from 1963 to 1977, died in 1980.
A spokesman for the company said: “Janet Roberts was never directly involved in the running of William Grant and Sons, but contributed greatly to the company’s development through her unwavering support of those close family members who did so much to make the company the success it is today. In her youth she and her family helped support her grandfather William Grant, founder of the company.”
“When married, she travelled the world with her husband Eric, attending functions and award ceremonies. As an older woman, taking care of both her elderly mother and sister, she became a central figure of the family, and was always been present to commemorate important moments in the company’s development, such as the award to the Glenfiddich, in 1974, of the Queen’s Award to Industry for Export Achievement.”
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