Dalwhinnie Distillery is located in the heart of the Scottish Highlands in the Cairngorms National Park. Their name from Gaelic also indicates the earlier determination of the place, namely meeting point or meeting place. It is one of the highest distilleries in Scotland. Visiting this distillery is a nice day trip from Inverness. From Perth you can also quickly reach the Dalwhinnie Distillery.
Those who like particularly mild and very soft whiskies will love the spirit produced a Dalwhinnie Distillery.
The Dalwhinnie Distillery is unique in that it doubles as a meteorological station. The weather data recorded by the distillery manager can be found on the BBC website. The wooden “worm tubs” with internal copper spirals of the still are extremely rare these days, which, when placed outdoors, give the distillate a more complex character when it cools down.
In the past, Dalwhinnie mainly produced for blends. Nowadays individual original bottlings are available, the number of independent bottlings is rather limited. It is reported that the Dalwhinnie Malt is very popular with Diageo to dazzle highly decorated brands like Buchanan’s. Dalwhinnie has been part of the Classic Malts of Scotland from Diageo since 1987 with her 15-year-old malt and confidently represents the Highlands with her creamy, fruity distillate. With its two rather small stills, the amount of alcohol produced by the distillery is rather small.
The distillery was founded in 1897 by John Grant, Alex Mackenzie and George Sillar as Strathspey. One of the deciding factors for the location in one of the coldest inhabited places in Great Britain were the perfect climatic conditions for whiskey production. But also the access to the spring water of the Allt an t’Sluie spring, which is over 600m high in the mountains and the proximity to the Great North Road and the railway made this location attractive for the distillery.
Within a year, the distillery was sold on and renamed Dalwhinnie. Dalwhinnie was the first American-owned distillery when it was auctioned off to the American distillery company Cook & Bernbeimer in 1905. Thanks to Prohibition, the distillery fell to the Blender Macdonald Greenlees in 1919 and finally to Distillers Company, which mostly used the malt to produce the Black & White blend.
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1897-98: Built by the Strathspey Distillery Co. Ltd. for £10,000, and named Strathspey Distillery. Subscribers are John Grant, a solicitor and sheriff clerk depute for Inverness-shire, Alex Mackenzie, who designed the distillery, was an architect and burgh surveyor, George Sellar, a grocer and draper, and others. The site was chosen for its water supply from Lochan-Doire-Uaine and peat from the surrounding moors
1898-Feb: Production starts. There were financial problems after a few months
1898-Nov: John Somerville & Co. and A.P. Blyth & Sons take over. The name is changed to Dalwhinnie. Charles Doig is called in to make some improvements
c.1900: Sold to the Dalwhinnie Distillery Co., owned by A.P. Blyth, managing director of a distillery company in Leith. He changed the name to Dalwhinnie, and called in a celebrated distillery architect of the time, Charles Doig of Elgin, to improve the building and plant
1905-Feb: A.P. Blyth & Son owned Dalwhinnie Distillery Co. assets were purchased at auction for £1,250 by Cook & Bernheimer, New York and Baltimore, and assigned by them to their subsidiary James Munro & Son Ltd. This is the first time a Scottish distillery is taken over by a foreign company that led to fears of a US takeover of the industry, but other Scotch whisky traders saw it as the first opportunity to promote sales in the North American market. The new owners proudly flew the Stars and Stripes above their warehouses in Leith where they blended "Scotch whiskies to suit the American palate"
1920: Following the decision in 1919 to introduce prohibition in the US, the distillery was sold to Macdonald Greenlees & Williams Ltd. of Leith, headed by Sir James Calder, who maintained the company name (1919 mentioned as well)
1926: Macdonald Greenlees & Williams Ltd. of Leith is acquired by the Distillers Company Ltd. (DCL), which licensed it to James Buchanan & Co.
....: Transferred to J. & G. Stewart Ltd.
1930: Transferred to Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd. (SMD)
early 1930s: The village of Dalwhinnie was still untouched by many of the conveniences of the 20th Century. There was no telephone and no electricity, the distillery was lit by parafin lamps and equipment was powered by steam engines
1934-Feb: Badly damaged by fire and closed
1938: Reopened. Two stills. Licensed to James Buchanan & Co. Ltd.
WWII: The distillery shuts down as a result of Government restrictions to conserve barley for food supplies
1961: Stills became steamheated
1968: Floor maltings ceased production
1979: The malt barns are converted to warehousing, and the private railway siding is closed by British Rail. A new stretch of the A9, built in the 1970’s, bypassed the village and the distillery
1986: Distillery is completely refurbished
1988-1989: United Distillers (UD) chose Dalwhinnie as a part of the Classic Malt Series and the Single Malt comes available more widely
1991: A visitor centre is built
1992: The distillery closes for a £3.2 million refurbishment. The visitor centre opens, the distillery is licensed to James Buchanan & Co.
1995-Mar: The distillery opens again