A production operator at Huntly’s Knockdhu Distillery will raise a glass to his late dad on Father’s Day – with a dram from a cask laid down by his dad in the 1970s.
Aberdeenshire-born James Logie, who began working at Knockdhu in 1991 when he joined Inver House Distillers, was rolling out some puncheon casks from an old warehouse to a new one when he realised that they had been laid down by his dad, Derek, in 1978.
Sadly Derek passed away in 2016, but to honour his dad, distillery manager Gordon Bruce has invited James, 50, to toast his father with a glass of whisky from one of the casks on Sunday.
James, who now lives in Keith, has been part of the dedicated Knockdhu Distillery team, who produce the award-winning anCnoc single malt Scotch whisky, for 30 years.
As a keen golfer, when he was young his ambition was to win the Open at St Andrews. However, when his dream didn’t look like it would become a reality, he decided he would follow in the footsteps of his father who worked in the Scottish whisky industry for 34 years before retiring in 2006.
Career in whisky
In 1986 James won the boys’ handicap championship at St Andrews and soon after pursued his next goal – a career working with whisky.
James said: “I saw dad working in the industry and heard him speaking about the good times they had at Knockdhu. I thought I’d like to be a part of that.”
His dad gave him all the encouragement he could to get into the industry, keeping him posted on jobs and the people that he knew and as a result, James got a warehousing role at Knockdhu.
His responsibilities included cask preparation, filling, bonding and at times grass cutting and painting. In 1995 he became a stillman and then a mashman.
Now Knockdhu is a single man production operator, which is a merger of both stillman and mashman roles.
Derek worked at the distillery from 1966 to 1968 and again from 1974 until 1983, as a warehouse man, so there was a touch of a family tradition at the Knock-based distillery.
Discovery of casks laid down by dad
And so it was in 2012 that James was rolling out some 1978 puncheon casks when he realised that the casks had been rolled into the warehouse and laid down by his late father in 1978.
Discovering that he was transferring one of his dad’s barrels was quite an emotional moment for James.
He had never worked with his father at the distillery yet they both had a hand in the making of something so many years apart.
James would have been six when his dad laid them and his dad would have been 31. James was 41 when he moved the casks and his father was 66 and retired.
To commemorate his dad this Father’s Day, Knockdhu’s distillery manager Gordon Bruce has arranged for James to raise a glass of whisky from one of the casks to toast his late dad.
Gordon said: “Over the years several family members have joined our dedicated distillery team. In addition to James and Derek, we currently have two brothers working in Knockdhu and have also taken on the nephew of one of our long-standing workers who has been with us for over 30 years.
“It’s great to see age-old whisky production techniques pass down to younger generations and we hope that whisky loving father’s take time out to enjoy a dram this Father’s Day.”
The casks are still in the warehouse to this day and James is hopeful that he will play a part in their final journey from Knockdhu to the consumer.