Scotch Whisky Distilleries in the Highlands
The Scottish Highlands are an incredibly scenic part of the country though they may be somewhat more rugged and lacking in luxury when compared to lower lying areas. Still, they make the perfect compliment to a warm glass of Whisky and while settlements in this rugged region are few and far between, there are a number of fine Whisky Distilleries in the Highlands which are well worth touring. It is here that you will find the Clynelish Distillery, the Glenmorangie Distillery, the Dalmore Distillery and the Glen Ord Distillery. Each Distillery offers its own special brand of Whisky as well as its own unique style of tour so you can be sure that you will enjoy each and every visit to these different Highland whisky distilleries.
Aberlour was the brainchild of James Fleming, wholesaler, distiller and philanthropist. He built the most perfect, modern distillery of its time in 1879 at an ideal location. Aberlour Distillery is situated in Speyside in the Highlands, the home of malt Scotch whisky and numerous distilleries. It was built at the confluence of the two important rivers of the region, the rivers Lour and Spey. The incredibly beautiful surroundings of the distillery are dominated by the rugged peaks of Ben Rinnes which is just a short distance away.
Balblair Distillery is located in a wild, lonely and romantic spot surrounded by the craggy mountain Ben Dearg, the Strathcarron River, the Dornoch firth and the sea. It is built high on the Dornoch firth, in the midst of sheep farms with a single-track railway nearby. Balblair is Gaelic for “battlefield” or “town of the plain”.
The Ben Nevis Distillery is unique in many ways. Located at Fort William in Scotland, the distillery stands at the foot of Britain’s highest mountain after which it is named. Not only is it one of the oldest licensed distilleries in Scotland, Ben Nevis is one of the few distilleries in Western Scotland. It was built by John MacDonald (popularly known as Long John) in 1825 and he was succeeded by his son Donald MacDonald.
The original Aberlour Distillery was believed to be founded by John and James Grant in Aberlour, Banffshire in 1826. Officially, though, it is recorded as being built in1879 by James Fleming about a mile from the original site in Speyside. Aberlour means ‘mouth of the chattering burn’ in Gaelic. The distillery was taken over in 1892 by R. Thorne and Sons who enlarged it to a great degree. Unfortunately there was a fire in 1898 and it had to be rebuilt. This was done under the supervision of Scotland’s leading distillery designer, Charles Doig of Elgin.
The original Clynelish Distillery was started in 1819 in the northern outskirts of the village of Brora in the Northern Highlands by the Marquis of Stafford (later the First Duke of Sutherland). It was so successful and its whisky so popular that by the end of the century they could not accept any trade orders. The distillery was sold to Ainslie & Co in 1896, which reconstructed and expanded the distillery. Scottish Malt Distillers (SMD) bought the distillery in 1930.
Dalmore Distillery is unusual in many ways. Not many whisky lovers seem to be aware of this distinctive single malt that has been created in the prime barley-growing district of Scotland. The still-men who work in the distillery are basically from a few local families. There are even three generations of a family working together. They believe that their pedigreed whisky is shaped by time, water and weather.
Glen Grant Distiller deserves to be visited not just to see its original nineteenth century buildings but also the exquisite Victorian garden. The distillery was started in 1840 and is one of the first licensed distilleries in the Scottish Highlands. Located in the Speyside region which is home to many famous Highland distilleries, Glen Grant has the perfect setting for a whisky distillery.
Glengoyne whisky is distilled in the Highlands and matured in the Lowlands! Glengoyne is just fifteen miles away from Glasgow and is situated on the Highland Line, the symbolic border separating the Highlands and the Lowlands. The Glengoyne Distillery has been built in a wooded valley beneath the rolling Campsie Hills at the gateway to the Highlands. It is one of the most picturesque distilleries you could find. Well maintained buildings, lovely landscaped surroundings and its water flowing down a waterfall just behind the structures - all contribute to its picture postcard appeal.
The phrase that comes to mind when one thinks of Glenmorangie is ‘The sixteen men of Tain.’ From the time the distillery was started in 1843, it has been managed and run by sixteen dedicated, hard working men who carry on the responsibility of producing this fine single malt. The tradition has passed down with every generation and even though the quantity of whisky produced is much more than it was in 1843, this whisky is still handcrafted by sixteen men of Tain.
The town of Oban in Argyll in the Western Highlands grew around the Oban distillery, one of the oldest in Scotland. Since it was established in 1794, it has played a major role in shaping the lives of the people living around it. The distillery and town were founded by two local brothers John and Hugh Stevenson whose father was a stone mason. The brothers themselves were a builder and a farmer but soon had many businesses from ship building to stone quarrying and building houses. In its early days it was among the best equipped distilleries in the Highlands.
Pulteney Distillery is the most northerly distillery in the mainland of Scotland and is located in an old fishing village called Wick. It was built by James Henderson in 1826 and the distillery remained with the Henderson family for almost a hundred years. The distillery was only accessible by sea and the barley was delivered in this way. The main consumers were the folks from the provincial towns of Scotland and the port of Wick was ideal for transporting the whisky.
The most important ingredient in the world’s largest selling Scotch whisky, Chivas Regal, is Strathisla Single malt. It is at the heart of Chivas which is a blend of mature 12 year old whiskies and contributes significantly to its distinctive mellow flavor. But that is not Strathisla’s only claim to fame. The Strathisla Distillery is the oldest working distillery in the Scottish Highlands.
Robert Louis Stevenson praised it in his 1880 poem 'The Scotsman's Return from Abroad' with the words: The king o' drinks, as I conceive it, Talisker, Islay or Glenlivit. Talisker is the only distillery on the Isle of Skye, and is named for a nearby farm. It is located on a lee of Cnoc-nan-Speireag-Hawkhill, near the village of Carbost. It is built on the exposed west coast of the island, on the seaweed shores of Loch Harport and has splendid views of the Cuillins, the dramatic hills of Skye.
In the heart of Speyside, on the banks of the River Spey is a distillery whose name does not begin with Glen…This is Tamdhu, Gaelic for ‘Little Dark Hill’, set in the Spey valley. It was founded in 1897 by a consortium of local distillers and was sold a couple of years later to Highland Distillers, who still own Tamdhu. Lying between Knockando and Archiestown in the Highlands of Scotland, its name is not the only original thing about Tamdhu.