Peak District to Texas
Max was keen to differentiate English whisky, and not wanting to be a Scottish distillery in England, he looked to the North American spirits scene for inspiration, After reading a few articles about a whisky pioneer in Texas called Chip Tate, words like ‘maverick’, ‘legend’ often follow on in type to describe Chip and what he achieved in building (literally by hand) his first distillery. Chip was now building his second distillery, again by hand! Max felt instinctively that this was someone he’d like to meet, someone who doesn’t do things by the book, but finds his own way.
After a few e-mail exchanges with Chip, Max was invited to stay for a week in January 2016. This was the first time Claire, Max’s wife, was aware this was really happening!!! During his time in Texas, Max got some unfiltered insights into the realities (the ups and downs) of building a distillery. Chip was generous in his experiences of how a small scale craft distillery could work, a marker he had put down himself over the previous decade. One piece of advice stood out; ‘plan for success’. Max returned home inspired (and with an important revision to the plan – the distillery would be twice as big).
Chips eldest son George came to work with us in 2016 on route to an internship at Bruichladdich. We didn’t have any stills at that point, just a building that needed some TLC and our research bunker! Luckily George was happy to muck in.