Change at top for distilling group Brown-Forman's as Scots whisky expert retires after 50-year career

Alan McConnochie, a veteran of the whisky industry of five decades’ standing, has announced that he is retiring.

He is the distillery manager for Brown-Forman's Single Malt Scotch Whisky Distilleries, overseeing its The GlenDronach, Benriach and Glenglassaugh sites, and is credited with having been in charge of some of the world’s finest single malts since 2004. He was inducted as a Keeper of the Quaich, deemed the “ultimate accolade” in the whisky industry, in 2018.

Laura Tolmie, the current distilleries production manager, is taking the helm this month, having worked alongside Mr McConnochie since she was appointed by Brown-Forman in 2017.

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Mr McConnochie’s career in whisky is described as “predestined”, with the expert born “in the shadow of” White Horse Distillers in Glasgow, and his first job in 1973 was in its bottling hall.

He was subsequently assistant manager at Plymouth Gin in Devon before moving to Laphroaig on Islay, and he cites overseeing the reopening of the Benriach Distillery for Billy Walker, before it was acquired by Brown-Forman in 2016, as the greatest moment of his career.

He said: “It's been an incredible privilege to oversee the distilleries of some of the industry's finest single malt whiskies. The one element I will miss the most is the camaraderie of both the distillery team and the whisky industry as a whole. I couldn’t be happier to hand over the reins to Laura.”

She said: “It's an absolute honour to be given the opportunity to be the custodian of these three stunning single malt distilleries, each with their own unique character and history, and so highly regarded in the industry.”

Mr McConnochie says it's been 'an incredible privilege to oversee the distilleries of some of the industry's finest single malt whiskies'. Picture: Peter Sandground.

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