Macduff is a single malt distillery in the east Highlands of Scotland, close to the coastal town of Banff. It sits on the banks of the River Deveron, which is the name given to its single malt presence. The Deveron brand sells over half a million bottles per year across the world. But the distillery's main function, and the reason it was built, is to provide single malt for blends. It is particularly associated with the popular Lawson's blended Scotch brand, for which it is a major ingredient.
Macduff distills a soft, sweet and fruity spirit that exhibits plenty of green apple and nutty notes. The new make spirit is described as having a slight oily quality. The majority of the spirit is matured in one cask type - ex-bourbon barrels sourced from the American whiskey industry. A small percentage is also matured in ex-sherry casks from Spain.
The single malt core range is released by the owners under The Deveron name. This was previously Glen Deveron, but changed in 2015. There are three age statements at 10, 12 and 18 years old. There are three further malts for travel retail at 16, 20 and 28 years old. They were first launched in 2013. You will only find this Highland single malt labelled as Macduff by independent bottlers. Companies such as Gordon & Macphail, Hunter Laing and Signatory Vintage hold good numbers of casks and regularly release bottlings.
The Macduff distillery has a capacity of 3.4 million litres per year. It is equipped with a 6.75 tonne mash tun, which runs 26 mashes per week. Each mash is fed to one of nine stainless steel washbacks. The fermentation time is 55 hours. There are five stills - two wash stills and three spirit stills. This is unusual as stills tend to work in pairs at most distilleries, so odd numbers are rare. The quirkiness does not stop there - the stills have upwardly tilting lyne arms that have right-angled kinks in them. This was designed to fit the still room when the number was expanded.
Macduff was founded in 1960 by the Macduff Distillers Ltd. They were formed of a group of Glasgow whisky brokers including George Crawford, Marty Dyke, Brodie Hepburn and James Stirrat. The building was a functional but classic 1960s design by renowned distillery architect of the time, William Delme-Evans. It was built to take advantage of the Scottish post-war whisky boom.
In 1966 the distillery was sold to Block, Grey & Block and they formed Glendeveron Distilleries. Then in 1972, it was taken over by William Lawson Distillers, who was part of the larger Martini & Rossi group. They saw it as perfect for supplying their popular blend. This was the beginning of Macduff's association with the brand.
Martini & Rossi operated Macduff for over 20 years before being bought out by Bacardi in 1993. They have owned the distillery ever since and run it via John Dewar & Sons, their Scotch whisky and spirits wing. Under Bacardi's ownership, both the single malt brand and Lawson's blend have grown in sales considerably.