For distilleries around Scotland, there are many ways to create whisky that people will love. Following traditional methods is a surefire way to appeal to Scotch lovers, while innovating is a way to grab attention and make history. But a key figure at each distillery is the master distiller or whisky maker.
These experts are behind the key decisions that are made about the processes, ingredients and final products that the distilleries release. They’re incredibly talented and often well-known within the industry for the quality of the spirits they create.
One such high profile figure is Nick Savage, renowned for his work at the legendary Macallan Distillery, having also worked at Diageo and William Grant & Sons. At Macallan, he was responsible for some of their biggest recent successes, not least the launch of their new £140million distillery and visitor centre.
However, in 2019 he made the surprising decision to leave Macallan for the much smaller Bladnoch Distillery, the southernmost and one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland.
Having been founded in 1817, Bladnoch became known as the Queen of the Lowlands but it fell on hard times in the 20th Century, with its stills sold abroad at one point and in 1993 it was sold to be turned into a guest house.
Its fortunes started to turn around again in 2015, when Australian entrepreneur and Scotch enthusiast David Prior bought it and began to refurbish it ahead of a relaunch in 2017. Two years later a new Visitor Centre was opened and Savage was recruited from Macallan.
Savage explained his decision saying: “’The vision and ambition shown by David Prior and the team at Bladnoch Distillery, together with the phenomenal efforts since 2015 with the re-generation of the historical site, played a huge part in my decision to join the Bladnoch business.
“The opportunity also allows me a new challenge in Single Malt Lowland Scotch Whisky from a 200 year old distillery. Combined with the passion and drive that the Bladnoch team have for the ultimate quality, I’m extremely excited to be a part of the amazing future of the brand.”
David Prior said: ‘It’s a great privilege to welcome Nick Savage to the Bladnoch business. He has an impressive track record with a number of significant whisky companies and brands, most recently as Master Distiller for The Macallan. His youthful, positive and energetic approach will add great value to our team and business, as will his technical and operational skills.”