Chairman - Ian Macleod Distillers
Born in Edinburgh and educated at Edinburgh Academy, Peter Russell was in the midst of his studies in economics at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, when he was called up for National Service in 1946. When it was over, he decided to train as a Chartered Accountant, qualifying in 1953. He practised for two years in Paris, but when his father took ill, he dutifully returned to join Leonard J. Russell, the firm of Scotch Whisky Brokers his father founded in 1936.
Leonard J. Russell died in 1956, and Peter took over control of the company, joined later by his brother, David. As a successful broker, and having acquired a working knowledge of the industry as a whole, Peter decided to turn his hand to blending.
The outcome of this was that the company bought over Ian Macleod & Co Ltd, with the brand name Isle of Skye.
Shortly afterwards British supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s began to introduce their own-label brands. “Some of the big boys in the industry sneered at them when they heard what they were doing, but it took off like a rocket,” he recalls.
Pretty soon, he was happily supplying a range of supermarkets with Scotch whisky, gin and vodka, and exporting a brand they acquired, King Robert II, a competitively priced range which includes Scotch whisky, gin, vodka and rum.
During the 1980s, the marketing of Isle of Skye, retailing at 8, 12 and 18 Years Old, gained momentum. In 1984, the company entered into a 50/50 partnership with the late George Grant of the Glenfarclas Distillery and bought the Broxburn Bottling Plant from Saccone & Speed.
Peter's son, Leonard, joined the company in 1987, having acquired a degree from Bristol University, an MBA from Edinburgh University, and experience of new brand development after working with IDV and Scottish & Newcastle Breweries. In 2000 Leonard became Managing Director taking over from his father and Peter became Chairman of Ian Macleod Ltd which then became Ian Macleod Distillers in 2003.
Having retired from the front line, but remaining Chairman, Peter now appears to have time on his hands to do other things including helping out his racehorse trainer daughter Lucinda and looking after his own collection of pets and animals.