Glenturret distillery manager Neil Cameron has retired at the end of a 40-year career, to be succeeded in the role by long-time colleague Ian Renwick.

The 2016 Icons of Whisky’s Distillery Manager of the Year bowed out in front of family, friends and colleagues, past and present, at a special event held at the Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery on Thursday night (July 27).

Paying tribute to Neil’s long career in the industry was General Manager Stuart Cassells, the driving force behind Glenturret Distillery’s return to the limelight which has included the establishment of the brand’s core range of three malts as well as the series of popular limited-edition releases.

Stuart, who is also leaving Glenturret to take up a new post as Global Brand Development Manager for Glenrothes at Edrington’s Glasgow HQ, said: “Neil has been a tremendous asset to Glenturret over the past two decades, helping us relaunch the brand last year. His loyal service and incredible contribution are second to none and that’s why it was especially fitting when we dedicated our special limited edition Glenturret cask strength single malt whisky – The Glenturret Cameron’s Cut – to him at the end of last year.”

Neil started his career in the whisky industry aged just 15-years-old at the Glenfiddich Distillery in Dufftown in Aberdeenshire.

Over a career that now spans three decades, Neil has amassed a wealth of knowledge and expertise in whisky production that has been accumulated through working at a number of different distilleries, gaining experience of all aspects of whisky production including mashing, distillation and bottling.

By 1990, then a fully trained stillman, and armed with a General Certificate in Distilling, Neil joined Highland Distillers, later part of Edrington. His first role in the company was in the warehouse at Parkmore, Dufftown.

In 1995 he progressed to the role of brewer at Glenturret Distillery and in 1997 he was promoted to his current role of Distillery Manager.

Setting aside Neil’s lifelong passion for Scotland’s most popular alcoholic drink, he is as equally enthusiastic about passing on whisky knowledge and education to the many visitors he meets – including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2015 – and shows around the distillery every year, answering all their questions as he goes.

Asked what he’ll miss most, Neil says: “Definitely the people! I’ve been lucky enough to work with some incredible colleagues during my time in Crieff and it’s been an incredible experience sharing the story of Scotland’s oldest distillery with the tens of thousands of visitors who have made Glenturret Scotland most visited distillery.”

Neil hopes that his legacy will live on in the whiskies he’s helped to create. But what’s his personal favourite?

“I’ve got a soft spot for both the Glenturret Peated Edition and the Glenturret Sherry Edition. Both beautiful drams taken with a small splash of water.”

Retirement will give 60-year-old Neil – who lives in Crieff with wife Moira – time to indulge his passion for hillwalking.

He said: “I’ve bagged the Munros, so I’m now working on ticking off all the Corbetts – I’ve just got three left [on Harris, Knoydart and Rannoch] to go.”