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Our Craftsmen – Tradition and Innovation (Part 1)

29 April 2013

David Allardice, Glenfiddich Ambassador

Over 125 years ago, William Grant set out to build the Glenfiddich distillery by hand with the help of his seven sons, two daughters and a local stonemason. Today, as one of the few remaining family-owned distilleries in Scotland, we still make our whisky on that very same site. Our highly skilled and dedicated team in Dufftown has won many awards over the years, including the honor of being recently named Whisky Advocate’s 19th Annual “Distiller of the Year.”

I recently got in touch with some of the key craftsmen in Dufftown to further explore how the William Grant family tradition of innovation is alive and well at Glenfiddich. I’ll introduce you to three of them today.



Willie McDonald, 64, leads our crew of four mashmen. With 25 years experience at the distillery, Willie has established himself as one of our finest craftspeople. Willie’s dram of choice is Glenfiddich 12 Year Old. When I asked him about the greatest challenge of his position, he replied (tongue firmly in cheek), “young team leaders who think they know it all!”




At Glenfiddich, we have four stillmen who tend to our 28 stills. Leading the crew is George Gordon Grant Garrick. George began his Glenfiddich career when he left school in 1977. His wife Julie works in bottling and his father, Jimmy Garrick, previously worked at the distillery as a stonemason. George has been with the company for 30 years now and says that in order to be a stillman, “You need to have a good memory. There are 28 Stills—10 Wash Stills and 18 Spirit Stills—running at once. Each one is at a different stage in the process, so keeping things straight can be a wee bit of a challenge.”

George loves Glenfiddich’s flagship single malt, the 12 Year Old. Recently, however, he has taken a particular liking to Glenfiddich 30 Year Old, which was presented to him in honor of his 30 years of service with the distillery.




Glenfiddich is one of the few distilleries to employ a team of onsite coppersmiths. In 1957 the decision was made to employ our own Coppersmiths, and it remains an important part of our whisky making tradition. The team tends to our 28 copper Stills on a daily basis, ensuring they maintain their shape and integrity to produce our signature style of Speyside spirit.