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Ian MacLeod Distillers Ltd.

Whisky Concerns

Russel House
Dunnet Way

Still Scottish - Still independent

Managing Director: Leonard  J. Russ�q��q�0ܫ0o��q��q�@�q�ussell Snr owned his own whisky broking company in 1936.
He died in 1956
Ian Macleod & Co Ltd was acquired by the Russell family on 18 March 1963
Peter Russell was Managing Director
David Russel, Peter's younger brother, joined the company in 1964 and was
a Director, retiring in 2000
Acquired the company and label called William Maxwell
Leonard Russel, Peter'sson joined the company in 1989 as Business Development Manager, and appointed Marketing Director in January 1993
Ian Macleod / J. & G. Grant - joint venture set up the bottling operation, Broxburn
Bottlers, in July 1984
Peter Russel appointed Chairman and Leonard Russel appointed Managing Director in 2000.
Ian Macleod & Co Ltd changed its name to its current name Ian Macleod Distillers
Limited following the acquisition of Glengoyne Distillery and the Langs Brands
In April 2003
Tamdhu is bought on 28th June 2011


"As We Get It"                                                   
The Six Isles
Chieftain's Range                                             
Watson's Demerara - & Trawler Rums
Dun Bheagan Collection                                   
Wincarnins Wines
Hedges & Butler
Isle of Skye
King Robert II
London Hill Gin
Marlborrough Gin
Moffat Springs
Queen's Seal                                     
Rostov Vodka
The Six Isles
Watson's Demerara & Trawler Rums
Wincarnis Wines

Independent, family-owned distiller, blender and bottler.


Ian Macleod Distillers is based at Broxburn, West Lothian, and owns Glengoyne distillery in Stirlingshire and Tamdhu distillery at Knockando on Speyside. Its principal blended brands are Isle of Skye, Smokehead and King Robert, though a range of independent bottlings are also undertaken under the ‘As We Get it’ Chieftain’s and Dun Bheagan banners. As the world’s 10th largest Scotch whisky company, Macleod’s produce and sell over 15 million bottles of spirits every year.

The firm is a major supplier to the ‘buyers’ own brand’ market and has provided own-label spirits to some of Europe's largest supermarket groups for over 40 years. Macleod’s owns 50% of Broxburn Bottlers, with the other 50% being held by J&G Grant of Glenfarclas. The chairman of Ian Macleod is founder Peter Russell, whose son Leonard serves as managing director.

Peter Russell’s father Leonard started out in business as a whisky broker in 1936, expanding into blending and exporting. Peter joined the firm in 1956, and the name Ian Macleod & Co and its Isle of Skye blended Scotch whisky brand was acquired by what had become Peter J Russell & Co in 1963. Ian Macleod & Co had been incorporated in 1933. The unspecified Islay single malt Smokehead, with a singularly contemporary image, was introduced in 2006.

The company achieved a long-held ambition of becoming a distiller when it purchased Glengoyne from The Edrington Group for £7.2 million in 2003. A second distillery, Tamdhu, was acquired from Edrington eight years later, and reopened in 2012 having been mothballed since 2009.

In September 2016 the company bought whisky blender and gin distiller Spencerfield Spirit Company for an undisclosed sum, adding the Pig's Nose, Feathery and Sheep Dip blended Scotch whiskies, and Edinburgh Gin brand to its portfolio.


Duncan MacGregor
Glen Tress
Hedges & Butler
Isle of Skye
King Robert II
Pig's Nose
Sheep Dip
The Feathery
The Queen's Seal
The Six Isles

Hedges and Butler Limited
Lang Brothers
Spencerfield Spirit Company

10 October 2017
Rosebank, the coveted Lowland single malt Scotch whisky distillery which closed in 1993, is to be brought back to life by Ian Macleod Distillers.

Rosebank distillery
New life: Rosebank is the third distillery this week set for revival
The company, owner of Glengoyne and Tamdhu single malts, has reached an agreement to buy Rosebank’s Falkirk site from current owner Scottish Canals, and has separately acquired the Rosebank trademark and stocks from the distillery’s previous owner, Diageo.

Up to £12m will be invested over the next few years to bring Rosebank back to production, with spirit running off the stills by 2019 at the earliest.

All equipment will have to be installed in the old distillery building, including three stills for triple distillation, plus worm tub condensers, in an effort to replicate Rosebank’s historic style of sweet, floral Lowland single malt.

Production capacity will be similar to that planned for the soon-to-be-revived Port Ellen and Brora distilleries – somewhere between 500,000 and 1m litres of alcohol a year.

Rosebank ceased production in 1993 when owner UDV (now Diageo) mothballed the site because of the cost of upgrading its effluent treatment plant, as well as problems over road access.

The site was sold to British Waterways in 2002, and the stills and mash tun were stolen during the Christmas and New Year holiday of 2008/9.

‘Rosebank is one of the most respected and sought-after single malts in the world,’ said Ian Macleod Distillers managing director Leonard Russell.

‘As such, this is an extraordinarily exciting project for us. To bring back to life an iconic distillery and quintessential Lowland single malt is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.’

He added: ‘We will produce Rosebank Lowland single malt in exactly the same way as it is known, using the famous triple distillation and worm tub condensers. This way we ensure the revival of its classic style and taste.’

Plans also include a visitor centre on the site ‘to help tell the story of this remarkable whisky’, said Russell.

In the meantime, the company plans to release Rosebank single malt bottlings using the stocks acquired from Diageo, which date from the late 1980s and early 1990s.

‘Over the coming months we will carefully review Rosebank’s rare stocks with a view to releasing some truly scarce and extraordinary whiskies,’ said Russell.

The news of Rosebank’s revival comes just a day after Diageo announced plans to restart production at two of its cult distilleries: Port Ellen and Brora.

11 October 2017
First Port Ellen and Brora, now Rosebank… the vogue for reviving ‘lost’ distilleries continues. The Falkirk plant – currently just an empty shell – may be producing spirit within a couple of years under new owner Ian Macleod Distillers. Richard Woodard investigates.

Rosebank Leonard Russell
Starting again: Ian Macleod MD Leonard Russell aims to recreate the classic Rosebank style
There are ghosts walking among us… We’re not even halfway through the week, and already three ‘lost’ single malt Scotch whisky distilleries are set for revival. On Monday it was Port Ellen and Brora, on Tuesday it was Rosebank. Who knows what the rest of the week might bring?

If Diageo’s plans for Port Ellen and Brora were a bolt from the blue, the resurrection of Rosebank has been rumoured for some time. Here, it was the identity of the new operator – Glengoyne and Tamdhu owner Ian Macleod Distillers – that was the surprise.

Rosebank’s quintessentially Lowland style of single malt, triple-distilled and famed for its floral, high-toned elegance, has made it almost as much of a cult favourite among collectors and connoisseurs as that redoubtable Diageo double act.

The plant closed in 1993, a decade later than Port Ellen and Brora, and, unlike those two, it wasn’t shut down because its spirit was unwanted; then owner UDV (now Diageo) was reluctant to pay for remedial works to the site’s effluent treatment plant, and there were reported problems with road access.

By 2002, Diageo had sold the site to British Waterways (it sits astride the Forth & Clyde Canal); the old maltings were redeveloped and, although there were plans to revive production, Rosebank’s stills and mash tun were stolen during the Christmas and New Year break of 2008/9.

More recently, rumours have swirled about Rosebank’s return, but the huge sticking-point for those who looked at the site was the fact that Diageo still owned the Rosebank trademark. Now that has changed.

‘We’re possibly one of the few companies who could reach an agreement with Diageo for the IP [trademark] and the stock,’ says Gordon Doctor, operations director at Ian Macleod, which has a long-standing relationship with Diageo in terms of providing fillings for blends. ‘I don’t think other people could have done this.’

Rosebank distillery

Not forgotten: If anything, the legend of Rosebank has grown since it closed in 1993

Why didn’t Diageo do it, in that case? ‘Had they still owned the site, I can imagine that they would. They might have been announcing a “holy trinity” yesterday of Brora, Port Ellen and Rosebank,’ says Doctor.

‘In our minds, we had a Speyside single malt [Tamdhu] and a Highland [Glengoyne], so we thought about building a Lowland distillery, and that got us round to saying: “What has there been in the past?” We knew [the site] was up for sale and that someone else had looked at it.’

In terms of that site, Ian Macleod is essentially buying an empty shell following the theft of the equipment. Plans – which could cost £10-12m, Doctor estimates – include the installation of a set of three stills for Rosebank’s triple distillation regime, plus worm tub condensers.

‘We don’t have a schedule as such,’ he says. ‘It’s all subject to planning permission and the regulatory authorities and so on. We’ve already been having discussions with Falkirk District Council, so we’re hopeful that there won’t be too many barriers… I think it would be beginning of 2019 at the earliest [that we start production].’

And is he confident that the company can overcome the issues that led UDV to mothball the site in the first place? ‘We’re fairly sure we can handle it, although the location in the middle of Falkirk makes it more difficult. If you were building or reopening a distillery, you probably wouldn’t choose to do it on that site.’

Rosebank’s planned production capacity will be similar to that of the ‘new’ Port Ellen and Brora: between 500,000 and 1m litres of alcohol a year, almost certainly entirely ring-fenced for single malt.

However, Doctor says: ‘We’re unlikely to be running at full capacity for the first few years. Full production means you’re producing a lot of cases, so you’d have to be pretty confident that you could sell a fair amount.’

Ian Macleod, like Diageo with Port Ellen and Brora, has already pledged to recreate as far as possible the historic style of Rosebank whisky – not easy when none of the kit is left in the distillery.

Mature stock: Existing supplies of Rosebank will fill the gap before production begins again

‘We will go back to the drawings that we will get from Diageo with Abercrombies [the coppersmith] and make sure it’s all built exactly the way it was,’ says Doctor. He believes the records are detailed, but admits that there will be some ‘trial and error’ in the early days of the new plant.

‘We might be able to find some old new make spirit lying in the Diageo Archive,’ he adds. ‘We’re hopeful that we’ll have access to that. We’ve also got samples through the years of Rosebank at different ages.’

For the moment, the focus in on this: triple-distilled single malt in the classic Rosebank Lowland mould. ‘Initially, I think it’s going to be doing everything we can to replicate what we did before,’ says Doctor. ‘But that’s not to say in years to come that whoever’s running the distillery won’t want to try something different. There’s no harm in experimenting.’

It will be some time before we see whisky from the ‘new’ Rosebank, however. ‘I don’t think we’ll be bottling any new make, unlike some others,’ says Doctor wryly. ‘Nor will we be bottling it on its third birthday.

‘It will come down to the spirit quality. If we believe there’s something after five or six years that people might like to taste, then fine. But we’re not driven by profit on this. We’ll bring it out when the time is right.’

As with Port Ellen and Brora, much intrigue will surround the cask policy at the revived Rosebank – an area that has developed hugely in single malt terms since the 1980s and 1990s.

‘If you look back at any old, old stock in a distillery, it’s almost a lucky bag if you find any decent casks,’ says Doctor. ‘We found out that going back to Tamdhu casks from the ’60s. You can find some great casks, and some pretty average casks.’

Now it’s all about the appliance of science, toasting levels, bespoke casks coopered and seasoned in Spain. ‘We put a lot more effort into that side of things now,’ Doctor says. ‘It will be experimental. I’d imagine we’d put Rosebank into a variety of casks to see how it will mature.’

For the moment, the company has Diageo’s existing stocks from the distillery to market and sell – all of it distilled in the late 1980s and early 1990s, none of it less than 25 years old. Casks need to be investigated; bottles and labels designed. It’s unlikely that we’ll see a release of old Rosebank stock until some time in 2018.

In the meantime, and as detailed plans are drawn up for the distillery’s new beginning, Doctor has just one more task on his already lengthy to-do list: finding and acquiring more casks of Rosebank.

‘There’ll be other stocks out there with independent bottlers and so on,’ he says, ‘and it’ll be my job to try to repatriate them.

‘Whether I’ll be successful or not we will see… The price has probably gone up a bit since yesterday.’

13 September 2016
Ian Macleod Distillers has bought Spencerfield Spirit Company, owner of Sheep Dip, Pig’s Nose and The Feathery Scotch whiskies, for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition, which also includes Spencerfield’s flagship Edinburgh Gin brand, follows Ian Macleod’s long-standing partnership as the group’s exclusive distributor in the UK.

The Scotch whisky producer, which owns the Glengoyne and Tamdhu distilleries, will continue production of Edinburgh Gin at Rutland Place, as well as the second distillery at The Biscuit Factory in Edinburgh.

Alex and Jane Nicol, founders of Spencerfield Spirit, will continue to work with Ian Macleod for a short period to ‘ensure a smooth transition’.

Alex Nicol said: ‘The acquisition came along at the right time for Spencerfield Spirit. We have built a solid partnership with Ian Macleod Distillers over the last three years and feel they are in an excellent position to take forward Edinburgh Gin and the Spencerfield Spirit portfolio.’

Ian Macleod, which has safeguarded all jobs at Spencerfield Spirit, now intends to invest further in the company’s portfolio.

Neil Boyd, commercial director of malt whisky at Ian Macleod Distillers, which also owns the Smokehead and Isle of Skye whiskies, plus Atlantico rum, said the purchase was predominantly fuelled by a desire to acquire a gin.

‘We think Edinburgh Gin in particular is very high quality premium spirit brand and we had a gap in our portfolio for such a product,’ he said.

‘The motivation behind our purchase of Spencerfield really was to build further on Edinburgh Gin’s success and take it to another level both in the UK and internationally.

‘The whisky brands are a little bit more quirky and interesting. The opportunities are not quite as clear for the whiskies as they are for the gin, but there’s very positive traction internationally particularly in America with Sheep Dip and Pig’s Nose, and Feathery in France.’

Alex Nicol, former COO of Whyte & Mackay, founded Spencerfield Spirit in 2005 with the Sheep Dip and Pig’s Nose blended whisky brands, both of which he acquired from his former company.

Edinburgh Gin was launched in 2010, while The Feathery was added to the portfolio in 2014.

January 2019
The green light has been given for work to start restoring the disused Rosebank distillery in Falkirk, 25 years after it first closed.

Work will begin ‘shortly’ to bring Rosebank distillery back to life
Distillery owner Ian Macleod Distillers has been granted planning permission by Falkirk Council to transform the disused site into a working distillery, visitor centre and shop with space for warehousing.

Rosebank, which was first built on the banks of the Forth & Clyde Canal in 1840 as a maltings for Camelon distillery on the opposite bank, was eventually closed in 1993 by then-owner UDV (now Diageo).

Its maltings were converted into a restaurant but the distillery has lain silent since.

Ian Macleod Distillers, which purchased the site in 2017, expects to begin renovation work ‘shortly’, with a view to reopening Rosebank in autumn 2020.

Leonard Russell, managing director of Ian Macleod Distillers, said: ‘To bring back to life an iconic distillery and quintessential Lowland single malt is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.

‘Rosebank distillery has a very special place in Scotland’s whisky heritage and we’re committed to ensuring this remains the case.

‘We will strive to replicate the unique Rosebank style by once more employing the unique techniques of triple distillation and worm tub condensers, for which this iconic Lowland single malt is famed.’

Rosebank will be an energy-efficient distillery capable of producing up to one million litres of alcohol per year.

With a range of distillery tours available, Rosebank’s visitor centre is expected to attract 50,000 visitors each year, ‘adding to the town’s flourishing economy and tourism scene’.

Councillor David Alexander, Falkirk Council’s spokesperson for economic development, said: ‘It’s great to see the Rosebank distillery coming back into use and this large investment on the site is to be welcomed.

‘We’ve worked closely with Scottish Canals and Ian Macleod Distillers to ensure that this site can become a great tourist attraction as well as bringing investment to the local economy and new employment opportunities.’

In its purchase of the distillery, Ian Macleod also acquired the remaining maturing stocks of Rosebank whisky from former owner Diageo.

The company will begin releasing limited bottlings from its acquired stocks – all of which was distilled in the distillery’s last few years – later in 2019
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