A farewell to Our Distillery Manager

After 18 years of outstanding service, John MacDonald, has hung up the keys at Balblair Distillery for one last time as he retires from the whisky industry.

As he put in his final shift on the 3rd of May – nearly 35 years on from the day he joined the whisky industry - he will retire as one of the whisky world’s most admired and respected distillery managers.  


During his time, his integrity, skill, depth of knowledge and big personality have earned John a reputation as one of whisky’s greatest champions, who will be missed by all at Balblair, and the wider whisky world. 

John began his career as a warehouseman at Glenmorangie Distillery, where he worked his way up the ranks over 17 years to the post of Assistant Distillery Manager. He made the move to take up the top job here at Balblair, as he says, ‘without even reading the contract’; such was his admiration for the whisky being made here at Edderton. 

John’s long list of accomplishments during his tenure here include building a friendly, close-knit distillery team, opening an award-winning visitor experience and leading Balblair’s sustainability programme, which includes the move away from heavy fuel and recent installation of TVR (thermal vapour recompression) technology to improve energy efficiency. 

He has also forged a reputation as one of the most sought-after global whisky brand ambassadors in the sector – always with his unshakable belief in making, enjoying and sharing a brilliant dram at the core. 

A Keeper of the Quaich, his character and dedication were perfectly captured in the 2022 David Eustace film, Precious Time, featuring John and exploring the unrushed craft behind our whisky and the beauty of our Highland home. 


Following John’s retirement, we welcome his successor, David Rogerson, who will move from his post as Assistant Distillery Manager at Speyburn to the Balblair Distillery Manager role to continue John’s long-standing legacy.

My time as Distillery Manager at Balblair has been a huge honour and a job that I have thoroughly enjoyed over the years. Balblair is an exceptional single malt whisky that I've been so proud to craft and represent over the years, following in the footsteps of a long line of makers going back to 1790. I want to say a huge thank you to the distillery team, past and present, for their craftsmanship, dedication and friendship, with a particular mention to Assistant Manager Norman Laing, who is the best in the business and whose help has been invaluable. I also want to offer a warm welcome to David, and to wish him the very best of luck in the role. I've had the pleasure of working alongside him in the past few months and I know that Balblair is in very good hands for future generations.