Dufftown (flickr jurgen mangelsdorf)

An Ode to Dufftown, Whisky Capital of the World

Denny Mac Taggart has been working in the drinks industry in The Netherlands for years, owning his own bar at one point. He has a Scottish grandfather and is proud of his heritage. Recently he moved to Scotland, to a small town in the Speyside area called Dufftown. Right now he works at Glenfiddich as a tourguide. He has fallen in love with Dufftown, and wrote this ode to the whisky capital of the world.

I moved here just two months ago, downtown Dufftown, located in the north eastern parts of the Highlands in Scotland. Whisky capital of the world? I certainly think it is!

Of course because it’s based in the heart of the Speyside region, where you’ll find more whisky distilleries located close to each other than in any other part of the world. But also because a group of whisky enthusiasts founded a non-profit organization called Dufftown 2000 Ltd back in 1995. The purpose is to promote activities in and around Dufftown and to organize whisky related events all year round.

Denny and colleagues
Denny (on the right) with colleagues Logan and Kirsten at the cooperage of Glenfiddich and The Balvenie.

The good people of Dufftown 2000 Ltd help organize the annual Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival every May and they host the Autumn Whisky Festival every year. Additionally, on Wednesdays during the summer months they work with distilleries to host a fun nosing and tasting, which is were I met my best friend in Dufftown, Matt. He just moved here from New Zealand this year. There is also a traditional cèilidh on Thursdays. The event organizers of Dufftown 2000 Ltd are all volunteers who give their time freely for the overall benefit of the town.

Dufftown is a village where you find only one bakery, one butcher and one bank, but of course several pubs. They all have one thing in common, a whisky menu that many bars around the world would probably be dreaming of. These are the places where you find whiskies that you won’t find easily anymore in your local shops. Original bottlings that sadly have been replaced in many domestic markets. Reasonable prices too, for Scottish standards that is.

One of the things I really like about living in Dufftown is the whisky heritage that is in the DNA of any person you meet here. If you go to one of the pubs and the bartender can’t help you with your whisky questions, there is always someone at the bar who can. In many occasions his dad, granddad, brother or himself would have been working in the whisky industry. Everyone is always very friendly and helpful, especially when it comes down to choosing the right whisky of course.

Denny with guests from Russia, at the visitor centre of Glenfiddich.
Denny with guests from Russia, at the visitor centre of Glenfiddich.

And then there’s the whisky legends. You don’t expect to meet them in person when you move to Scotland but you do! I’ve read articles about many of them for many years before I moved over. Watched interviews where they have been VIP guests on international television shows, guys that have been working in the whisky industry for over 40 years, they are everywhere. And as I said earlier always so down to earth and friendly.

Mister David Stewart for example, the current Balvenie malt master, working for the company for over 50 years now and one of the most respected people in the business, he is so genuine and nice. Mister Dennis McBain worked for William Grant & Sons for 50 years being the onsite coppersmith. He is a lovely guy and well respected all over the world. Here in Dufftown I did not only have the pleasure of meeting him but once he also gave me a ride home when it was raining.

It may seem like a little thing to you, but I enjoy those little things so much. The most recent example is mister Ian MacDonald, another absolute legend, master cooper for 47 years at the cooperage shared between Glenfiddich and Balvenie. He is not only also a very friendly guy but became my personal trainer at bowls and even brought me a birthday cake last week.

This is all so special for me and to me it shows what Dufftown is all about. A town that is rightfully proud of its whisky history and is willing to welcome all visitors with open arms. Dufftown, whisky capital of the world. I am proud to live here.

Pictures: Denny Mac Taggart and Jürgen Mangelsdorf (Flickr)

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