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A fond farewell: One of whisky's biggest characters retires

Diurachs raise a glass to one of whisky’s most celebrated characters, Willie Cochrane, as he retires from the industry

Published: May 20, 2016
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Jura has raised a glass to much-loved distillery manager, Willie Cochrane, as he retires after an incredible 39 year career.

He hands over the reins to Graham Logan, a former Jura mash/stillman who has worked at Willie’s side for over two decades, helping Jura become the thriving success it is today.

Willie has been a ‘Diurach’ – the Gaelic term for the community in Jura - since 1977, when he arrived on the island planning to stay for just a year. Initially he had little knowledge of whisky, but his passion was ignited and he proved his talent for crafting extraordinary single malts by working his way up from mash/ stillman to distillery manager 11 years ago.

He has become a celebrated part of the very fabric of Jura, renowned in the industry for his friendliness and his expertise, earning prestigious titles for the whisky.

A true ambassador for the brand, Willie has welcomed thousands of visitors from across the globe to the distillery, guiding them through the quality craftsmanship and dedication that goes into producing each cask of Jura.

Willie, who has made the decision so he can spend more time with his family, said: “Jura is just as important to me now, as it has been for the last 39 years. I’ll find it hard to walk away completely, so I’ll still be involved in promoting the whisky from time to time.

"Definitely not a quiet retirement but one I’m very excited about, especially as I’ll have more time for the grandchildren, and to take holidays abroad with my wife!

“Graham and I have worked together for years and I know he’s the right man for the job. I’ll sleep well at night knowing the distillery is in capable hands, with someone who loves Jura just as much as I do.”

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Graham, who has followed the same path as his mentor, starting out as a Mash/Stillman 25 years ago, first set eyes on Jura aboard the deck of the HMS Liverpool, while passing by in his previous role as a marine engineering mechanic in the Royal Navy – little did he know that his Father had accepted a job on Jura and he’d soon be calling it home.

Six years later, Graham swapped life at sea for the 'water of life' when a job came up at the distillery.

Together, Willie and Graham have overseen a number of limited edition bottlings, such as Camas An Staca and Tastival 2015.

Graham Logan, who is excited by the new challenge, said: “Willie Cochrane will be a hard act to follow – he is something of a legend and rightly so.

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"Willie played a huge part in making the distillery the success it is today and has been an asset to the quality of the whisky that we produce.

"I hope to be able to put my own stamp on the distillery, while maintaining the same level of craftsmanship and, overseeing some fantastic new bottlings.”

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