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Kilchoman Distillery’s John MacLellan dies

Scotch whisky veteran John MacLellan, manager of Islay’s Kilchoman Distillery, has died following a battle with cancer.

Kilchoman Distillery's John MacLellan has passed away
Kilchoman Distillery’s John MacLellan has passed away

MacLellan, who previously spent almost 21 years at the Bunnahabhain Distillery, passed away on Sunday 27 March.

Having started his Scotch whisky career at Bunnahabhain as a mashman in 1989, MacLellan became distillery brewer at the Islay site in 1993 before taking on the role of distillery manager in 1997. He joined Kilchoman in 2010.

A statement on Kilchoman’s Facebook page, posted this morning, reads: “John MacLellan sadly passed away on Sunday. He will be a huge loss to us at Kilchoman and to all that knew him. His impact at the distillery has been immense and we will all miss him greatly.

“The huge number of kind words we have received in the past few days from all over the world are testament to John and the affection everyone had for him.”

Kilchoman is an independent farm distillery that is well known for its 100% Islay edition – which is created with every stage of production carried out on-site, from barley growing through to hand bottling.

In December last year, the distillery auctioned one bottle of its first ever 10-year-old whisky, raising £7,000 for The Beatson Cancer Charity. At the same time, Kilchoman revealed plans to expand production of the 100% Islay line after purchasing its surrounding farm.

Anthony Wills, founder and managing director of Kilchoman, has paid tribute to MacLellan: “In 2010 we were looking for a manager, hoping to attract someone with experience beyond production to help us grow Kilchoman globally. We never dreamt that someone of John’s experience would believe in what we were doing so much that he would want to join us.

“He brought with him a wealth of knowledge, a dry sense of humour and a massive following within the whisky world, putting Kilchoman on the map.

“John worked well with everyone but especially enjoyed working alongside the younger members of staff, praising them when things were done well and encouraging them to make the most of their abilities wherever they worked.

“On a personal note, I will miss his positive attitude, his support, his wealth of knowledge and a willingness to get his hands dirty helping in every area of the distillery, even clearing tables in the café. What I have learned from him will continue to help build Kilchoman and I will always be grateful.

“My thoughts and those of everyone at Kilchoman are with John’s wife Lindy and their two children Rosie and Sandy at this desperately sad time.”

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