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Land issues

GlenWyvis has been hijacked

An ongoing dispute between GlenWyvis founder John F Mackenzie and the current board of GlenWyvis directors, regarding the management of the land on which the distillery sits, has ended in court and arbitration proceedings.

To have to go to court against the business you started has been a bizarre experience

John F Mackenzie

What began as a community-focused initiative has turned into a living nightmare for John and his family, who now face the prospect of paying significant legal fees. Can you help John defend his farm?

John goes public

Following the release of their 2024 business plan on 27th March and, despite clauses in the lease contracts designed to keep any disputes private, GlenWyvis Distillery chose to send their large membership (which includes journalists and politicians) correspondence with only their side of the story. Bringing matters to the public's attention, John has responded by telling his side of the story and publically defending his farm.

Whisky Wars. What's the stooshie between John and the distillery he founded? When did the problems begin?

The information below is in the public interest, GlenWyvis Distillery has received money from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, both businesses are public.

John resigned in 2019 as volunteer Managing Director due to David O'Connor, chairperson at the time, violating board instruction. (This was minuted and has been reported to the society as a breach of rules and lease - the rules provide for the chairperson to chair meetings, nothing more.) O'Connor, a former police commander at Dingwall (retired in 2013) had started a separate business, Ross Shire Lettings Ltd, on 8th January 2018 with Hazel Allen, the Finance Director employed by the distillery at the time (also putting her in breach of contract, society rules and lease). This business arrangement was never declared at any board meeting. Unbeknown to the local committee, that business arrangement was the subject of litigation at Inverness sheriff court in 2019.

Another business, Muir of Allangrange Ltd, started by O'Connor on 8th July 2018, instigated the development and the purchase of Logie Farmhouse and Logie Farm from the neighbour of the distillery, Reverend Ivan Warwick. This property was also the subject of litigation and has been covered widely in the press.

Complicating matters further, Neil Boyle, the bank manager at Bank of Scotland for both John and the distillery, became the tenant of Logie Farmhouse (unbeknown to John). A complaint was lodged with the bank about Boyle's position as tenant of Logie Farm (owned by O'Connor) - a clear conflict of interest. The details were reported to independent Committee on Standards in Public Life and investigations are ongoing since information came to light in 2022.

An audit in summer 2019 revealed these serious conflicts of interest and John resigned as a director shortly after and before the fire of Oct 2019.

In 2022 further information came to light through the public court process and an official complaint was made to the Distillery standards committee, which John instigated the set up of in 2021 during mediation. Part of the the standards committee remit is to ensure democratic processes after O'Connor became chairman of the Goodwill committee in 2020 without any formal elections having been held. O'Connor finished as a director of the distillery in Nov 2019 and did not put himself forward for election to the Goodwill fund committee in 2021.

To date no response has been issued by the society on these important matters. Keep an eye out here for updates.

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Dingwall Whisky Distillery Trust
c/o GlenWyvis Farmhouse
Upper Dochcarty
Dingwall
Ross-Shire
IV15 9UF

Dingwall Whisky Distillery Trust