We announced the appointment of Distillery Manager Gary Haggart, Whisky Consultant Andy Cant, and Stillman David Whitelaw this week, as we get ever closer to the day that distillation (re)commences at Lindores Abbey.
Here’s a bit about the new team:
Distillery Manager, Gary Haggart, originally from Blair Atholl now living in Windygates, Fife, has more than 20 years’ experience in the Scotch whisky industry, most recently as Distillery Manager for Cragganmore Distillery in Speyside. Before joining Cardhu Group (owners of Cragganmore), Haggart worked for Dewar’s in several roles, from electrician to production team leader. During his time with Cardhu Group owners DIAGEO, Group Manager Andy Cant first introduced Haggart to Cragganmore and his desire to become a distillery manager led him to gain an IBD General Certificate in Distilling and the NEBOSH National General Certificate in Health and Safety, leading to his manager appointment at Cragganmore. Influential Scotch whisky writer, the late Michael Jackson, who wrote of Lindores Abbey that ‘for the whisky lovers, it is a pilgrimage’, described Cragganmore whisky as having “the most complex aroma of any malt”. Haggart also has experience in the oil and gas industry.
Gary Haggart, Distillery Manager at Lindores Abbey Distillery, said:
“Being inquisitive and passionate about whisky is in my blood. I grew up surrounded by the distilleries of Blair Athol, Aberfeldy and Dalwhinnie. Both my grandfathers greatly enjoyed and were fascinated by the story of Scotch, so from a young age I was intrigued. Joining Lindores Abbey Distillery feels like a little bit of destiny coming true. Scotch is such a friendly industry and has such a pull, that when I heard that Drew and Helen (McKenzie Smith) were looking to build a distilling team here at the site of the earliest recording of Scotch, I knew I had found where I wanted to be.
“As the first distiller at Lindores Abbey in more than 500 years my priority is to get the distillery up and running and for us to produce a constant and consistent quality of spirit here. Then we can move into experimentation and explore the possibilities for innovation, just like the founding Tironensian monks would have done. I want the Lindores Abbey Distillery spirit to be known throughout the industry and around the world. That’s what this unique place deserves.”
Whisky Consultant, Andy Cant, from Elgin, is a Keeper of the Quaich and has worked in the Scotch industry for 40 years. Starting off in laboratory quality control roles in the 1970s, testing grain, water and yeast and moving into the role of scientist, Andy then worked in maltings for Glenesk and Burghead, before becoming Manager of Port Ellen Maltings in Islay. In 1998 he became Group Manager for Islay which took in Lagavulin and Caol Ila distilleries as well as the maltings. In 2001 Andy moved to Elgin to manage Glenlossie, Linkwood, Mannochmore and Glen Elgin Distilleries, before becoming Manager of the Cardhu Group in 2004, which includes Cardhu, Cragganmore, Knockando and Dailuaine distilleries. In 2007 Andy provided management cover for Dufftown, Glendullan, Mortlach, Auchroisk, Inchgower and Strathmill Distilleries, before returning to the Cardhu Group.. In 2009, he additionally took on the role hosting visitors from around the world and introducing them to the science and art that goes into the making of single malt and blended whisky. In 2012 he was inducted into the Keepers of the Quaich and took part in the making of a single malt whisky at the George Washington, Mount Vernon distillery in Virginia, to celebrate 100 years of the Scotch Whisky Association. Andy retired in 2016.
Andy Cant. Whisky Consultant at Lindores Abbey Distillery, said:
“Lindores Abbey is the touchstone for distilling in Scotland and the opportunity to be part of the return of spirit to Scotch whisky’s birthplace is a special one.
“My role as Whisky Consultant at Lindores Abbey Distillery is to ensure we achieve a spirit character worthy of the birthplace of Scotch. I will work with Gary and David to fine tune the mashing, fermentation and distillation processes to produce the flavour and character that we are looking for – a spirit that will mature well in the future and be a fine example of the distiller’s art.”
Assistant Stillman, David Whitelaw, from Glenrothes, has lived in Newburgh for more than 10 years, working as a plumber and gas engineer, as well as being a member of the local fire brigade and previously the football team. He said:
“As a local tradesman and villager, I have seen the Lindores Abbey Distillery project develop over the years and I am very excited to be a part of the revival of such an incredible place in Scotland’s history and for the plans Drew and Helen McKenzie Smith have for bringing the story of spirit production back to this spectacular place.”
The historic first recording of Scotch distillation at Lindores Abbey appears in the Exchequer Roll of the same year, naming Friar John Cor, a Lindores monk, who was commissioned by King James IV to turn 8 bolls of malt into Aqua Vitae. Lindores Abbey Distillery founders Drew and Helen McKenzie Smith, who inherited the Lindores Abbey Farm, have spent the past two decades tirelessly researching, planning and campaigning to bring a distillery back to Lindores Abbey.
Drew McKenzie Smith, founder of Lindores Abbey Distillery, said:
“We are very proud to unveil the Lindores Abbey Distillery team today, celebrating the breadth of experience and talent they will bring to the Lindores Abbey Distillery spirit production this summer.
“Whisky Consultant Andy Cant, Distillery Manager Gary Haggart and Stillman David Whitelaw will each bring their own passion and skill to the quality, consistency and aspirations we have for the first spirit to flow in 500 years at the birthplace of Scotch whisky. The team will, of course, be inspired by the foundations laid by the late Jim Swan, who worked closely with us in our vision for Lindores Abbey for many years.”