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Ex-Edrington whisky maker moves to Ardgowan Distillery

The Ardgowan Distillery Company has appointed Edrington’s Max McFarlane as its new whisky maker.

Max McFarlane has joined the Ardgowan Distillery as whisky maker

With more than 25 years of experience at Scottish spirits firm Edrington, McFarlane was responsible for supervising the quality and consistency of Scotch brands Famous Grouse, Cutty Sark, Bunnahabhain, Tamdhu and Highland Park.

McFarlane will return to his hometown of Inverkip, where the Ardgowan Distillery is located, to help the site develop its whisky with a plan to release a new series of whiskies this autumn.

He will create a new whisky range through blending and bottling barrels from distilleries across Scotland. While details are yet to be released, McFarlane confirmed the series would include a single malt, a blended malt and a grain whisky.

“When I first heard there would be a new distillery in Inverkip I knew immediately I wanted to be involved,” said McFarlane. “It’s my hometown and I have long thought that Inverclyde is a natural area for a distillery.

“It’s en route to the islands, it’s near the sea and I think this will help us create a coastal lowland malt of real character.

“Of course, this will be a number of years away, but our new series will give us something to enjoy while we wait.”

Inverclyde Council first approved plans for the £12 million (US$15.8m) distillery, which is based 30 miles west of Glasgow, in March 2017.

The distillery will include two copper pot stills and six timber-clad washbacks, as well as a visitor centre that will be developed within existing buildings on the Inverkip site.

The site will begin construction this year, with distilling expected to commence in 2020. Ardgowan aims to produce a flagship seven-year-old Scotch whisky and a range of younger single malts.

Martin McAdam, CEO of Ardgowan, said: “Max is just a lovely guy. He is totally unassuming, and we are delighted he has chosen to work with us.

“Max knows so much about the industry. He is an expert in assessing new-make spirit and he is also working with the team at Ardgowan on our wood policy and production schedule. He has astonishing talent and is someone we can learn a lot from.

“By bringing Max on board now, and whilst we wait for our own product, we can showcase some really great-tasting, quality whiskies to establish the Ardgowan brand and give a sense of the kind of spirit the distillery will produce in the years ahead.”

The new distillery will resurrect the Ardgowan Distillery name, which was founded in 1896 and located in Greenock. After a few years of whisky production, the distillery was used to make grain spirt and industrial alcohol until it was destroyed in the May Blitz of 1941.

In September last year, The Ardgowan Distillery Company launched its inaugural whisky – a limited edition 20-year-old blended Scotch made with liquid that has travelled to the South Pole.

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