From the editors

Back to the Future Day

  • Great Scott! Bust out those self-tying sneakers, hop onto your hoverboard and switch on some Frankie Goes to Hollywood, for today is Back to the Future Day.

    Yes, we have finally arrived at the date in time Marty McFly and Doc Brown broke through the space-time continuum to in their Delorean, in the smash-hit 1989 film sequel.

    The day Marty McFly travels back to the future is now a reality.

    For our favourite time travellers 21 October 2015 was a fantastical world apart from the familiar shoulder pads and big hair of the 1980s, though director Robert Zemeckis did accurately predict several innovations.

    Hoverboards are now scarily real, as is 3D cinema and video chat. Heck, Zemeckis even predicted the invention of the Google Glass.

    Certainly technology has evolved in the last 26 years, as has the Scotch whisky industry, which rose from the ashes of a crash in the 1980s to export 1.19bn bottles a year all over the world.

    Even distilleries have implemented new technologies that have streamlined production, yielding more liquid faster than ever before, while biomass plants that convert waste product into energy are now par the course.

    In celebration of Back to the Future Day here’s a look back at some of the highlights occurring in Scotch whisky in 1989.

    'Hey McFly you Bojo! Those boards don't work on water!'

    Ben Nevis. In 1989, Long John International – the whisky arm of brewer Whitbread – sold Ben Nevis distillery to Japanese distiller Nikka, a long-term customer of the business.

    Lagavulin. The now iconic Lagavulin 16 Year Old joined Diageo’s Classic Malts portfolio in 1989.

    Bowmore. Japanese drinks group Suntory bought a stake in Islay distillery, Bowmore, in 1989, going onto acquire the site fully in 1994.

    Glentauchers. United Distillers sold the mothballed distillery to rival Allied Distillers (later purchased by Pernod Richard) in 1989 and became a named component of Ballantine’s.

    Imperial. The mothballed distillery is sold to Allied Distillers in 1989 but not reopened for another two years. Eventually the site was demolished to make way for Chivas Brothers’ gleaming new Dalmunach plant.

    Glenrothes. While much of the whisky industry was struggling under a fall in demand, Glenrothes swam against the tide of closures and increased its distillery capacity with the installation of two new stills, bringing its total to 10.

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