Former Bruichladdich general manager dies

12th March, 2020 by Melita Kiely

Duncan McGillivray, former general manager of Islay distillery Bruichladdich, has died aged 68.


Duncan McGillivray has been described as selfless, hard-working, gentle, determined and funny

McGillivray’s career at Bruichladdich spanned more than 40 years before his retirement on 27 June 2014.

Aged 14, he left school to work at Rockside Farm as an apprentice mechanic.

After two-and-a-half years, he moved to Aoradh at Gruinart in the north of Islay where he worked with engineer Bob Erlie.

On 20 May 1974, McGillivray moved to Bruichladdich as a trainee stillman under the guidance of Gilbert Carmichael, and was promoted to head brewer in 1978.

He held the position of distillery manager when Bruichladdich was mothballed in 1994. McGillivray was part of the team that resurrected Bruichladdich in 2001, a year after Mark Reynier and a team of investors acquired the distillery.

Simon Coughlin, Bruichladdich founding member, head of whisky for Bruichladdich owner Rémy Cointreau, and friend of McGillivray, said: “It is impossible to capture in a few words the enormous impact that Duncan had on Bruichladdich distillery and the wider Islay community.

“His influence and association with the distillery go back almost 50 years and, put simply, the resurrection of Bruichladdich and much of the success that has followed would not have been possible without the dedication of Duncan. Selfless, hard-working, gentle, determined and funny – and that’s just for starters. Everyone at Bruichladdich and those that enjoy any of our spirits can raise a glass today to thank this wonderful man.

“Looking back to 2001, the Bruichladdich re-birth seemed a dream too far; this was a time when distilleries were still being closed, a far cry from today. If it was not for the patience of Duncan and his unwavering commitment to the cause (even if he thought we were mad sometimes), we would not be here today.

“There are too many stories for this moment, but my first memory this morning on hearing the sad news, was of a trip with Duncan to Italy to look over our new bottling equipment back in 2006. The night before the visit we were taken to a local restaurant and as neither of us spoke Italian we just said to bring anything they suggested. I remember Duncan digging in with great gusto and he enjoyed everything, only to tell me later he had no idea what any of it was but it was bloody good.

“We miss you already dear Duncan. Thank you on behalf of the Bruichladdich family worldwide and we will always be there for [your wife] Susan. You are close to our hearts today.”

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