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Imperial distillery

Imperial was one of Scotlands most unlucky distilleries spending more than half of her life closed, decades as a floor maltings only operation and ultimatley looted for scrap before being unceremoniouslt demolished. Completed a mere 18 months before the Pattison whisky crisis Imperial remained closed for the next 20 years, production finally resumed for less than 6 years before she was again mothballed and maintained as floor maltings for the next 30 years.

In 1952 Imperial along with Aultmore became the first distillery to convert the spent pot ale and draff left overs to animal feed, a process which became virtually universal until the introduction of bio fuels, the heralded the longest run in Imperial’s history lasting almost 30 years during which the distilelry was connected to the grid, production doubled and floor maltings installed

Alas the 1980s whisky surplus rolled along and again Imperial had to shut her doors, changing hands first to United Distillers and then again to Allied Distillers Imperial again came online and Allied released the only official bottling in the distilleries history. She closed her doors for the final time on St Andrews day 1998 changed hands once more and then was finally demolised to make way for the new Dalmunach distillery over 6 times her size, only a few warehouses remain today

The distilleries only official bottling is painfully hard to come by but well worth trying, as are the range of independant bottlings that occasionally pop up, prices have finally started their northward climb on the auction sites so if you can, do get them while they last.

Imperial factsheet

Name Pronounced AKA Region Country of Origin
Imperial im*perial Speyside Scotland
Status Active Whisky Type Website Tours Available
Lost 1897 - 1998 Malt Imperial Not Available
Manager Distiller Blender Owned by Parent Group
Chivas Brothers Ltd

Imperial Timeline:

1897: Founded by Thomas Mackenzie who had substantial interests in the Dailuaine and Talisker Distilleries, designed to be fire resistant by famed architect Charles Doig from Elgin

1898: Transferred to Dailuaine-Talisker Distilleries Ltd.

1899: After only 18 months of operation the distillery closed, in large part due to the demand drop off caused by the Pattison whisky crisis

1916: Imperial was bought by a consortium of DCL (Distillers Company Limited), W.P. Lowrie, Johnnie Walker and Dewar's.

1919: Production was resumed

1925: The 'Big Three' blenders merge with DCL and mothball the distillery, for the next 30 years Imperial operates purely as a maltings

1952: DCL begin to experiment with 'dark grains' production at Imperial and Aultmore Distillery, the protein-rich draff and pot ale animal feed is wildly popular

1954: The turbine in Ballintom Burn becomes redundant as the distillery is connected to the grid

1955: Under the management of DCL subsidiary Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd. (SMD) Imperial is rebuilt and reopened

1965: Enlarged from two to four stills, Saladin maltings are installed and the stills are converted to mechanical coal stokers

1969: The stills shift to steam heating

1985: The distillery's longest run of 30 years of operation ends and Imperial is closed by DCL before being sold to United Distillers

1989: The distillery is acquired by Allied Distillers and resumes production but the onsite maltings are closed

1998: The distillery is Mothballed on St Andrews day

2000: The distillery is officially closed by Allied Domecq and applications were filed and granted by Moray Council for both demolition and the construction of housing

2005: Imperial is bought by Chivas Brothers (a part of Pernod Ricard) instructions to estate agents, Bell Ingram, to sell Imperial for redevelopment were withdrawn

2013: Having spent less than half of its life in operation and with her stills having been stripped for parts, Imperial is demolished

2015: At 10 million litres a year capacity the new distillery, Dalmunach, dwarfs the 1.6 million capacity of the former Imperial

Useful Imperial links:

Imperial at GreenWellyStop

Imperial at MaltMadness

Imperial at MasterOfMalts

Imperial at SMWS

Imperial at Whisky

Imperial at WhiskyExhange

Imperial at WhiskyPortal

Imperial at Whiskybase

Imperial at Wikipedia

Imperial at Wormtub

Interesting Imperial links:

Imperial Whisky Distillery at Derelict Places

Imperial at Whisky Cyclist

Life after Imperial: Dalmunach Distillery

Can I tour Imperial?

No, unfortunately Imperial distillery is not open to the public for tours