Buchanan brothers

Buchanan brothers brought up on adventure – and whisky

Buchanan Stewart 2

By Stewart Buchanan, whisky expert, whose parents are from Dumbarton and Gartocharn.

I COME from a whisky production background so I spent a long time in distilleries making whisky before going out onto the road. What I love about moving into a ambassadorial role is travelling around the world and seeing people taste it. I can sit in front of 300 Japanese bar tenders in Tokyo or be in a pub in Glasgow.

People want to enjoy quality these days. Single malt is not a drink you drink fast; you can sit back and relax with it, it’s not about drinking that bottle, it’s about sipping away. That’s what people want; people are drinking less but higher quality.

With BenRiach, my blood, sweat and tears went into that whisky. It was like pumping the blood back through its veins again in bringing that distillery back to life. Tobermory is my home town distillery on the Isle of Mull; I moved to Elgin and the BenRiach distillery had been sitting empty for two years. When I first walked in, I felt quite sorry for the distillery, it looked neglected and needed a lot of work. For the first six months, we didn’t even switch on a bit of machinery, the place was stripped down, built back up and brought back to life.

Buchanan Gordon Jr

It’s very humbling that I’ve been invited to become a Keeper of the Quaich. You have to be elected by a Keeper who has been one for 10 years and even if you’re nominated, it goes to the board and then they decide if you’re worthy enough. It’s an honour to be invited to join the bunch of whisky heroes. Consumers want more knowledge, more details – that’s why I went into it.

Some people think of single malt as out of their reach or a premium spirit typically associated with an older gentleman. However, that’s changed dramatically in the last five or six years. I go out in the markets now across Asia and into America and see that consumers are evenly split between men and women and younger; so there’s whisky for everybody.

We’re not pigeon-holing whisky; it’s appealing to a very broad cross section of consumers. We don’t aim at any generation, it’s dangerous to do that. If you start concentrating on one, you start to alienate your traditional drinker.

Being brought up on an island like Mull drives you to be more diverse as far as career choices. Most of my friends have eclectic jobs such as artists, musicians, novelists to name a few. My brother Gordon Buchanan (above left) swapped Mull for the Amazon Jungle, so there’s adventure in our blood. I’m not sure who deals with the wilder … Gordon with animals and me with the whisky consumer. It’s funny because I can turn on the TV on the other side of the world and he’ll pop up in front of me so in some ways we are together across the globe.

School opening

Official opening of Our Lady and St Patrick’s High School in Bellsmyre

OLSP picture of opening

Politicians, officials and teachers attended the opening of the new Bellsmyre secondary school.

West Dunbartonshire Council’s newest flagship school, Our Lady and St Patrick’s High School was officially opened this month.

Elected Members, parents, pupils, staff and invited guests attended the opening of the spectacular new £25m Bellsmyre school on Tuesday, 27 March.

As part of the opening ceremony guests were entertained with a stunning performance from singers Caitlin O’Sullivan and Callum Latham and heard a moving performance from Sarah Docherty on piano.   Guests were shown a video which highlighted how students are benefiting from the new building  and also detailed the history of how  Notre Dame and St Patrick’s came together to create Our Lady and St Patrick’s High School.

The school was officially opened by Convener of Educational Services, Councillor Karen Conaghan, who is a former pupil of Notre dame and an OLSP parent.

Councillor Conaghan said: “Since opening in October the new Our Lady and St Patrick’s High School has transformed the educational experiences of the 1000 young people who attend.

 “This is a high-performing school which has a history of attainment and the building offers the perfect environment to continue that success. Classrooms are fully furnished with modern state-of-the-art equipment with large break-out spaces to facilitate innovative and inspirational methods of learning and teaching.

“These new facilities offer our young people the best possible facilities to support them to become confident individuals and successful learners”

Head Teacher, Christopher Smith, added: “This was a special moment for everyone connected with the school. I was delighted to welcome our guests, parents and carers to this special event which followed on from our official blessing by His Grace Archbishop Philip Tartaglia earlier this year.

“Our Lady and St Patrick’s is not only a school, it is a whole community. We are immensely proud of our history and heritage and the opening of this new build marked the next chapter in our journey.  Pupils and staff are delighted with the design and quality of the school and are making the most of the new learning environments and facilities which are enhancing opportunities for our young people.

“This is a school built for the modern curriculum and we are looking forward to the future and supporting many more young people to achieve all that they can.”

Laura Mason, Chief Education Officer said: “OLSP is the final new build high school and on completion of Choices will complete the regeneration of West Dunbartonshire’s secondary school estate. Together these developments will have transformed learning for thousands of young people and moved them into facilities which are purpose built to support the Curriculum for Excellence. I have every confidence that this new building will support generations of young people to attain and achieve.”

Following the opening ceremony, senior pupils took guests on a tour of the school, showing off the impressive educational and sporting facilities within the new building.


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