Tel: 01997 420072

Please let me introduce myself. I am Michael MacKenzie, born and bred in Inverness, capital of the Highlands. I am married to Rona, also a MacKenzie, from Poolewe in Wester Ross.

I am a third generation distiller, following in the footsteps of my father and his father before him, and one of seven family members with nearly 200 years in the industry between us.

From an early age I was told by my father that the day I left school I would work in the distillery alongside him, so as soon as I turned 18, in 1983, life in the Scotch Whisky Industry began for me. I worked between the three Inverness distilleries, in the bonded warehouses. The Glen Albyn and Glen Mhor distilleries on the west side of the town (together known as The Glens) had been mothballed that year so they had ceased production. (There was talk that the Glen Mhor would be put back into production but it was never to be.) At east end of Inverness, Millburn distillery was still in production but it too was mothballed in 1985. The three distilleries were then part of SMD - Scottish Malt Distillers. SMD became part of DCL - Distillers Company Ltd., which in turn became part of Guinness and is now the huge Diageo.

Distilling was, then, a very family orientated business, I can call to mind many families of fathers, sons, brothers and even sisters that have worked in distilleries in the Highlands. Family names like Allen, Christine, MacDonald, MacKenzie, MacLean, Morrison, Murray, White, I'm sure I could list A to Z in distilling families.

One family in particular sticks in mind. The MacDonalds. One member of this family was my brewer or, as they are now known, production manager. His family carted the first sandstone to build the Glen Albyn distillery on the bank of the Caledonian Canal at the Muirton Basin in the 1800s. The Glen Albyn started life as a brewery to quench the thirst of the men who built the Caledonian Canal. Therefore, from the laying of the first stones until its closure in 1986, Iain Macdonald's family were there - right to the last day.

What people sometimes forget is that every person involved in producing the amber nectar is special. A very skilled work force, including coppersmiths, coopers mash-men, still-men and warehouse-men, take barley from the field, add the purest Scottish water and bring Whisky to the glass. Most of them get no recognition for their dedication and loyalty to the world of whisky, no Keepers of the Quaich" for them. I would say it's not a job, but a way of life - a very skilled work of art. We depend on each and every one of them to make the prefect spirit so it can be drunk either as a single malt or skilfully mixed by a master blender to make the perfect blend.

Due to ill health, my life as a distiller came to an end in 2005, but not my involvement with the Scotch Whisky Industry. Using my family background and knowledge I have decided to continue my dedication Whisky - but now in bottles instead of casks.  If you wish to meet us face to face please contact us for an arranged appointment.

A warm Highland welcome awaits you - Highland Hospitality at its best.

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oldmaltcaskOld Malt Cask

Caol Ila Distillery Aged 17 years 700 ml. 50% acl./vol. Distlled 1996 September, Bottled 2013 October.

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