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Borders distillery

“The one next to the Lidl”. The Borders distillery is a Tudor Cotswold building constructed by Hawick Urban Electric Company back in 1903, flanked by a couple of sheds dating back to 1888. It’s fair to say the site looks pretty industrial, and definitely lacks the charm of the more traditional purpose built distilleries with their sweeping pagodas but it’s far from unsightly. Featuring exposed rubble walls, wooden sarking and aluminium batons through the mash and still halls and a garage door to the rear where they brought the stills in, it’s fair to say its unconventional but it works and looks pleasantly in step with the area.

The four founders of Three Stills, Tim Carton, John Fordyce, Tony Roberts and George Tait have all held senior positions at William Grant & Sons and they seem to have opted, in part through necessity and preference opted for a very low tech set up. The staff are knowledgeable, all being given on site training which makes for an enjoyable tour with a lot of technical insight. The new make is incredibly pleasant, light, sweet and fruity.

Perhaps the more curious part of the distillery however is the location, none of the founders have any connection to the area and yet the distillery is very much a champion of the region, and local employment. CEO Tim Carton explained to his reasoning to the Spirits Business as an "opportunity to rebuild the industry and put the Borders, as far as Scotch whisky’s concerned, back on the map". In recent years there seems to have been something of a race to get a Borders distillery set up with the Borders Distilling Company, Mossburn Distillers and the (now delayed/cancelled) R&B distilleries all planned. Three Stills Company got there first.

Putting the borders "back on the map" might be slightly generous however, as the Borders distillery is the first distillery to operate in the region since 1837 when the only 12 year old Kelso distillery closed its doors for the last time. It’s a shrewd move regardless, as Fordyce notes it’s better to be distillery "number 1 in the Scottish Borders" as opposed to "number 70 on Speyside”. Hopefully the borders distillery will have a slightly longer shelf life than it’s predecessor..

Borders factsheet

Name Pronounced AKA Region Country of Origin
Borders Lowlands Scotland
Status Active Whisky Type Website Tours Available
Active 2018 - Present Malt Borders Tour Link
Manager Distiller Blender Owned by Parent Group
Three Stills Company

Borders Timeline:

1837: Kelso distillery closes after only 12 years of operation, the last in the Borders

2018: At 10.11am on 6 March 2018 the first distillate began to flow, in May the Borders distillery is formally opened

Useful Borders links:

Borders at ScotchWhisky

Interesting Borders links:

Borders distillery opens

Borders distillery at Whisky magazine

Can I tour Borders?

Yes Borders distillery is tourable. On Trip Advisor the distillery has been rated as excellent by 73 of 86 tours to date. This gives Borders an overall rating of 5.0

Latest reviews

Top Place by Iflett

Exceptional experience. You don’t get a tour guide waffling on. You do get a distillery employee that has worked the stillhouse and the mash house. It is nice to see a new distillery using age old methods like manual valves and a spirit safe that relies on the stillmans skill.

The Borders Distillery Tour by Katie H

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the distillery today and want to thank David for our tour. We were very pleased with how the covid regulations were put in place and felt very safe.It was great seeing the process of making whiskey, gin and vodka and our party of 4 learnt lots. We can’t wait to have another taster from buying a bottle of each in the shop. We look forward to the exciting times ahead when the whiskey is ready in a couple of years. Thanks for a lovely afternoon.

Fantastic Experience, Great Fun and Very Informative!! by Georgia M

Came with my parents and brother. A very welcoming experience from the team, with excellent COVID measurements in place. The tour was exceptional and our tour guide (Chris I think) was very knowledgeable. Great venue and will definitely be returning upon our next visit to the borders.

Rating Reviews
Excellent 73
Very good 11
Average 2
Poor 0
Terrible 0