CHIVAS Brothers employees bade a fond farewell to their colleague Douglas Cruickshank recently, as he retired following a distinguished 47-year career in the Scotch whisky industry.
Douglas stepped down from his role as production director last year to oversee the development of the company’s new Dalmunach Distillery in Speyside. Fittingly, the new distillery was built on the site of the company’s since-demolished Imperial distillery – where Douglas began his career as a 15 year-old labourer in 1967.
Following his beginnings at Imperial, Douglas progressed through various roles with then-owner Distillers Company Ltd, as well as a spell working for J&G Grant at Glenfarclas, before joining Campbell Distillers in 1992 as distilleries director.
In 2002, following the acquisition of Chivas Brothers by Pernod Ricard, Douglas was appointed production director responsible for all distillation as well as warehousing and inventory, a role that was significantly enhanced with the acquisition of Allied Distillers in 2005. In 2007, he was promoted to operations director, which included responsibility for bottling and procurement.
In 2012 Douglas’s role changed to again focus solely on production, with responsibility for Chivas Brothers’ distillery expansion programme. On completion of this, Douglas relinquished his role as director, whilst agreeing to stay on to oversee the design and build of Dalmunach, which commenced production in October this year.
Under Douglas’ stewardship, the company won ‘Distiller of the Year’ at the International Wine & Spirits Competition on several occasions between 2002 and 2010. In 2004, he was named ‘Master of the Quaich’ – a title held by fewer than 200 people worldwide, and a mark of recognition by the whisky industry of ‘an exceptional personal contribution’.
During his career with Chivas Brothers, Douglas made a significant contribution to the business, as its distilleries reached record production levels and ever-higher efficiencies. A major warehouse rebuilding programme was successfully completed, and on the Manufacturing side he oversaw record volumes at each of the company’s bottling sites.
Speaking about his career, Douglas said: “Managing two major acquisitions – Chivas Brothers in 2002 and Allied Distillers in 2005 – was a significant highlight for me and Pernod Ricard. During my time in the industry, there have been huge improvements in technology, driving improvements in Production, particularly in relation to energy efficiencies.
“Within Manufacturing we made significant steps forward in line efficiencies, and in the integration of our two major bottling halls in Paisley and Dumbarton. I attribute both my success, and that of Chivas Brothers, to the quality of the various teams I have built during my time as a director.”
Paying tribute to Douglas’ remarkable and diverse career, Chivas Brothers chair and CEO, Laurent Lacassagne, said: “I have greatly enjoyed working with Douglas for nearly 20 years, and would like to thank him very warmly for his pivotal role in developing our Scotch whisky business during a dynamic period of growth and change in the industry.
“Most recently, I’d like to commend him for his excellent work bringing Dalmunach Distillery into production – a fitting end to such a distinguished career, in the place where it all began. On a personal level, I have greatly enjoyed working with Douglas and I know I speak for everyone at Chivas Brothers when wishing him a long and happy retirement.”
Douglas lives close to Aberlour distillery and has two adult children – one an artist and the other who has followed in the family footsteps to work in distilling at Chivas Brothers. Douglas is a keen golfer and golf follower, and counts Spain, Portugal and the USA among his favourite holiday destinations.
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Contact: Tim McGuire