Our Family

John Harvey McDonough, Senior

Non-Executive Chairman

claire

It was on 3rd January 1949 that a young John McDonough (16 years and 6 months) joined the Royal Navy - The Kings Royal Navy - as a Leading Airman Aircraft Handler 2nd Class. From HMS Royal Arthur, Corsham, Wiltshire - John (L SFX 867 877) joined the colossus class aircraft carrier HMS Ocean, in May '51 and sailed June '51 as part of the Mediterranean Fleet. HMS Ocean sailed to Malta, Cyprus, Crete, Greece, Tobruck and then from April '52 sailed into Japan - Sasibo, Kuri and Yokohama. Other sailings included Sri Lanka and Hong Kong.

Leading airman McDonough left the Royal Navy (The Queens Royal Navy) in July '57 returned to civi Street and then later in life took on the task of steering the family whisky business as Chairman, with son John re-establishing the business in Taiwan, a new but booming market for Scotch Whisky.

John Snr has travelled back to many of his naval ports as Chairman of the SPEY Whisky company, including Sri Lanka and Hong Kong. He once returned to Hong Kong in the flight deck of a Boeing 747, seated alongside the Jumbo's pilot - quite a contrast to his experience in 1955 when he left Hong Kong Harbour on the flight deck of HMS Ocean.

Today, John McDonough Chairman of SPEY Whisky is delighted that he, together with his family and friends, can fondly remember his time in the Royal Navy with a glass of Spey Single Malt instead of Pussers Original Navy rum - whilst tracking the Royal Navy's latest patrol vessel HMS Spey.

Leading Airman, McDonough was born in Seaham Harbour but was "Made in the Navy".

John Harvey McDonough

CEO

johnJohn is a highly experienced and much travelled executive in the Scotch Whisky Industry. Born in Sunderland, John was schooled at Lanchester St Bede School and studied at Durham College before graduating at London's Institute of Exports. A descendent of the John and Robert Harvey distilling dynasty (built Bruichladdich Distillery in 1881) John, driven by the advice given by his grandfather Alec Harvey, worked at International Distillers and Vintners (IDV) for many years learning the art of brand marketing.

In order to expand his experience and knowledge with IDV, John moved to live and work in Asia, mainly in Taiwan but also in Sri Lanka and China for a period in excess of 20 years. During this time John left IDV to fulfil his dream of re-establishing the family business, forming Harvey's in Taiwan and establishing the SPEY brand of Single Malt. John's father,  also named John, was given the honoured position of  Chairman of the company. The business went from strength to strength with Harvey's purchasing Speyside Distillers Company Limited (SDCL) in 2012.

John moved back to the U.K. to lead and develop SDCL into the  successful, innovative global business it is today. He was acknowledged by the Keeper of the Quaich Society which gave him the status of a "Keeper" in 2019. In the local community John became a Director of the Cairngorm Business Partnership - sharing ideas with other businesses and assisting the company to further develop globally, based on the branding model developed and successfully established in Taiwan.

John is married to Joanna, a professional artist and the official Artist in Residence at Speyside Distillery. They live in Aviemore, close by the distillery.

2020 marks the 250 year anniversary of John and Robert Harvey Ltd , business established in 1770 and is -as described by Brian Townsend in his book , 'Scotch Missed' - "truly a proverbial Phoenix risen from the ashes" all down to the successful endeavours and many years of hard work by John Harvey Mcdonough.

Alec Harvey will be looking down fondly at his grandson, John Harvey McDonough.... with a dram in his hand and a wink!

Patricia Dillon

Managing Director

patriciaPatricia has over 25 years at senior level in FMCG, both in public and private sector, previously working for a global food company turning over several billion dollars.
When Patricia took over as MD of Speyside Distillers Company Ltd she, with her team, led the company from a high loss-making company to a profitable business with a multi-million pound turnover and a presence in 32 world markets.

Patricia has led the company to achieve several business awards including the highly prestigious BOFTA (Board of Trade Award) for exceptional performance and contribution to the UK's international trade, Glasgow Business Awards Exporter of the year 2018, Inverness chamber of Commerce Exporter of the Year 2016 & 2019 - Cairngorm Business of the Year 2015, 2016 & 2017.

Patricia has also led her team to achieve multiple whisky awards including the prestigious Concours Mondial Grand Gold Medal 2019; The Scotch Whisky Masters Spirits Business Master Award 2019; World Whisky Awards Category Winners in both 2019 and 2020.

Patricia is a Keeper of the Quaich in recognition of showing outstanding commitment to the Scotch whisky industry.   

She joined the Scotch Whisky Association Council as a non voting member in September 2019 and was nominated onto the Council in March 2020.

Allan Findlay

Speyside Distillery Manager

findlayBorn and raised on a farm on the edge of malt whisky country I have always had a very keen interest and passion for whisky and I'm very proud to be part of the industry.

I started my experience with Chivas Brothers working around various distillery sites, in the filling stores to warehousing, blending troughs and cask movements.

I have worked and lived onsite at Tamnavulin Distillery as a process operator, milling, mashing, fementation and distillation.
As a whisky operations manager for Murray McDavid cask whisky brokers I was responsible for the day to day running of the warehouses and warehousing team, also sampling casks, selecting casks for finishing whiskies and selecting whiskies for the future brand releases.

I was honoured to join the SPEY family and become the Speyside Distillery Manager in the Summer of 2018.

Paul Dempsey

Speyside Distillers Commercial Manager

paulAfter graduating from a Communications & Journalism course, Paul started his career in the drinks trade in 1997, working in Scotland for one of the USA's largest wine producers. 
He moved into Spirits in 2002, holding sales and marketing roles with the distributor of several international premium spirits. This involved working with brands such as Grey Goose, Patron, Luxardo & Jagermeister, including assisting in the development of the Jagermeister's music sponsorship programme, working with bands such as Slipknot & Slayer!

It was during this time that he also began working with whisky producers, including Isle of Arran, Bowmore, Bruichladdich & Suntory. He joined Speyside Distillers as Commercial Manager in 2014 to work with their SPEY & Beinn Dubh whiskies at home and abroad.

Paul has served as a judge at international spirits competitions around the world including The World Whiskies Awards in London, The Warsaw Whisky Awards in Poland and at the Spirits Selection (Concours Mondial des Bruxelles) competitions in Mexico, Chile, Bulgaria & China. Paul was also a Whisky Magazine "Icons of Whisky Scotland"  2021 Highly Commended.

Claire Southern

The Snug Manager

claire

Born and raised in Cornwall and started working at the age of 14 buying her own house at 19. She then moved to London to become a flight attendant which opened a new world for Claire and leading on to fast track work for the 4th largest multinational AIG.

Claire has travelled and worked around the world including Dubai, India, Sri Lanka, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Bangkok, Eastern and Western Europe and she finally arrived to her new home in the Highlands in 2008.

Claire joined The Snug and SPEY Family when it opened in June 2017 and has since fallen in love with whisky - finding it an interesting new career where she meets many people from the countries she has visited as they in turn explore Scotland.

Claire received the 'Icons of Whisky Scotland' - Visitor Attraction Manager of the Year 2020 Highly Commended.

Susan Libeks

Brand Manager

susanAfter 35 years working in the hospitality industry and organising corporate events Susan joined the SPEY family in 2015.

Her interest in whisky started at the Inverdruie Whisky Centre under the tutelage of owner and whisky afficionado Frank Clark back in the 80's and 90's, this was followed by working with the key corporate clients of Chivas and Diageo at venues in the Highlands.

Her passion for whisky came when she joined the SPEY family and tasted her first Speyside Distillery dram.

Originally from Lancashire, Susan has lived in the Highlands for over 40 years and is truly at home in the Cairngorms National Park.

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