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A new challenge as Max joins Ardgowan Distillery

One of the world’s top whisky makers has joined the Ardgowan Distillery team – with a plan to create and release a new series of whiskies later this year.

For over 25 years Max McFarlane was whisky maker for Edrington where he ensured the quality and consistency of some of the industry’s most iconic brands, including Famous Grouse, Cutty Sark, Bunnahabhain, Tamdhu and Highland Park.

His Highland Park 18-year-old was voted the best single malt in the word, and until his retirement Max’s name adorned every bottle of the Orkney malt.

Now Max has joined the Ardgowan Distillery – in his home town of Inverkip, 30 miles west of Glasgow – where he will help the fledgling distillery develop its whisky-making skills and deliver a series of new whiskies this autumn.

The Ardgowan Distillery has already received planning permission for their 1 million litre facility and will commence construction this year. They plan to start distilling in 2020 and aim to produce a flagship seven-year-old alongside a range of younger single malts.

And whilst the company plans for production and release of its own sprit, Max is already working with the Ardgowan team to a develop a number of new whiskies – in an as yet un-named series – to be launched later this year.

These will be created by Max, through blending and bottling quality barrels from distilleries Scotland-wide.

Max said: ‘Our first whisky will be released in and around Inverclyde this autumn, and it will be the first of a series of affordable and accessible quality whiskies which we will issue in the years ahead.’

Max, who was appointed a Keeper of the Quaich in 2017, remains tight-lipped on what the new series will be named, but did confirm it would include a single malt, a blended malt and a grain.

The whisky veteran says he is delighted to be working so close to home: ‘When I first heard there would be a new distillery in Inverkip I knew immediately I wanted to be involved. It’s my home town and I have long thought that Inverclyde is a natural area for a distillery.

‘It’s en route to the islands, it’s near the sea and I think this will help us create a coastal lowland malt of real character.

‘Of course, this will be a number of years away, but our new series will give us something to enjoy while we wait.’

Martin McAdam the CEO of Ardgowan welcomed Max to the team: ‘Max is just a lovely guy. He is totally unassuming, and we are delighted he has chosen to work with us.

‘Max knows so much about the industry. He is an expert in assessing new-make spirit and he is also working with the team at Ardgowan on our wood policy and production schedule. He has astonishing talent and is someone we can learn a lot from.

‘By bringing Max on board now, and whilst we wait for our own product, we can showcase some really great-tasting, quality whiskies to establish the Ardgowan brand and give a sense of the kind of spirit the distillery will produce in the years ahead.

‘Max will be a fantastic asset to our team.’