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Benriach distillery manager retires after 50 years in whisky

Alan McConnochie, manager of The GlenDronach, Benriach and Glenglassaugh Scotch distilleries, is retiring after 50 years in the whisky trade.

Alan McConnochie Benriach
Alan McConnochie is retiring after 50 years in the whisky industry

The distillery manager has been in charge of Brown-Forman’s Scotch whisky sites since 2004.

McConnochie began his whisky career in the bottling hall of White Horse Distillers in 1973. He was made a keeper of the quaich in 2018.

His distillery career started in the role of assistant manager at Plymouth Gin in Devon, England, before he moved to Laphroaig on Islay, Scotland.

He said his greatest moment was overseeing the reopening of the Benriach Distillery for Billy Walker before it was bought by Brown-Forman in 2016.

McConnochie 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.

“Being a part of the launch of The GlenDronach Aged 50 Years in January was a particularly proud moment, having personally helped to nurture those casks over the years.”

Laura Tolmie, the company’s current distilleries production manager, will take over as distillery manager from April. She has worked alongside McConnochie since 2017.

Laura Tolmie Benriach
Laura Tolmie will take over as distillery manager

“I couldn’t be happier to hand over the reins to Laura, who is very well suited to continue to build the future of our skilled and passionate distillery team,” McConnochie added.

Tolmie has extensive experience in maltings and distilleries across Scotland, and has a background in chemical and process engineering.

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.

“Combined with the passion and drive that the distillery teams have for the whiskies, I am extremely excited to be a part of the amazing futures of Benriach, Glenglassaugh and The GlenDronach.”

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