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Day in the Life: Robert Mitchell, The Macallan Ghillie on the River Spey

Mitchell has had this job for five years, and looks after the brand’s mile and a half long stretch of river

Published: April 15, 2022
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5am

I always start my day with a cup of Scottish Blend tea, and a warm bowl of porridge with honey – a very Scottish breakfast - before taking my three Labradors, Meg, Rhu and Guvy for a long walk through the countryside.

6am

I make my way along the road to The Macallan Estate - a serene oasis which is populated by more than 60,000 trees and home to more than 70 specifies of wildlife, birds and fish. I head straight to the Fishing Lodge to set up for guests. This involves laying out the rods and recording the water height and temperature to gauge the best pools and conditions for the day. The beat features a selection of unique pools – places where fish are typically found - including the 25ft deep tunnel pool in the middle. As custodians of the River Spey, we encourage sustainability of the wildlife in and around it, and all our fishing is on a catch-and-release basis.

7am

Once I’ve finished setting up, I step on to the veranda to observe nature in all its glory. There are views up and down the river, as well as of Ben Rinnes, where you can watch the sunrise or rain clouds rolling in. It’s a very good indicator of the day’s weather patterns.

8am

Around this time, I welcome our guests, who travel from all corners of the globe. Fly fishing is an art, but with the right guidance anyone can do it, and I spend time with guests guiding them on the flies to use, the best spots to stand in, and so on.

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12pm

Lunch has been prepared by the extraordinary chefs at The Macallan Estate. Whatever it is, it’s always delicious.

3pm

Fishing resumes after lunch - typically until around 5pm, or later in the height of summer when the days are longer.

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5pm

As guests pack up, those not driving can enjoy a dram of single malt whisky while I record details of the day’s catch, including the time, weight and fly used. We then take a moment to toast the river.

In May and September we are hosting The Macallan Edition No.6 Fishing Experience where guests can enjoy a morning on the River Spey before exploring the estate and learning about the history and heritage of The Macallan.

6pm

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I finish my day the way it started, spending time with my dogs in the countryside, before sitting down to enjoy dinner - usually a pasta dish, soup or something with fish. Often, I will pick up a book and read about the global salmon fishing industry or new developments in the world of whisky.

10pm

Before bed, I sit by the fire with a dram and reflect on the day, thinking about what made it special and contemplating how tomorrow might be different. No two days on the river are the same. It’s an incredible part of the world, blessed with so much beauty and tranquillity.

For further information, please visit www.themacallan.com or to book an experience, contact estate@themacallan.com

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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