Lochside distillery

Lochside was a whisky distillery in the town of Montrose, Angus, Scotland. It should not be confused with the whisky distillery of the same name, which existed in Campbeltown between 1830 and 1852.

The Lochside distillery had a short life, from 1957 to 1991. Although it operated as a grain and malt distillery for a while, it never had a major breakthrough in part because it was constantly being resold and no one was responsible for the distillery for long.

Production at Lochside distillery

Lochside started its life as a brewery in the early 19th century. It wasn’t till 1957 when Joseph Hobbs converted it to start producing whisky, where he installed a 67-foot (20m) Coffey still. During the first few years this was the only product of the distillery, then in 1961 two wash stills and two spirit stills were purchased and installed enabling the production of malt whisky.

The water required came from a groundwater well. A coffee still was installed for the production of grain whisky. Malt whisky was distilled over two pairs of wash and spirit stills. As grain and malt whisky were now both made in Lochside, Joseph Hobbs mixed them after the distillation and had this mixture poured into barrels for maturation. This procedure was also used at Ben Nevis for the Dew of Ben Nevis blend. The resultant whisky was used largely in the Macnab’s blend.

Lochside bottlings

Much of the whisky produced was used to make blends, especially in Sandy Macnab’s Old Blended Scotch Whisky. However, there were regular releases as single malts by independent bottlers, which can still sometimes be found at auction today. Commercial bottlings are virtually non-existent as the distillery was closed and demolished in 1992.

The only official bottling from Lochside was a 10-year-old single malt which was sold in 1987, a few short years before the distillery closed. There was also a short-term single blend under the “Scott’s Selection” label, which was made with grain and malt whisky from the distillery. The distillery character of Lochside is described as floral, honey-sweet and with tropical fruit notes.

History of Lochside distillery

The distillery that Hobbs founded had been a Deuchars brewery since the 1890s but this in turn stood on the foundations of a brewery believed to date from around 1700. The first concrete reference we were able to identify was Montrose Brewery, dating to the 1760. In 1899 the brewery was rebuilt by famed architect Charles Doig and the new site was acquired by James Deuchar. James Deuchar & Sons Ltd. were based in Newcastle upon Tyne and would eventually become Scottish & Newcastle. This company closed the brewery in 1956 when all activities were relocated to Edinburgh. Until then, it had been the only place outside Newcastle that brewed the famous Newcastle Brown Ale.

Lochside began its life as a grain distillery after Joseph Hobbs, then owner of Hillside (aka Glenesk) & Ben Nevis distillery installed a 67-foot (20m) Coffey still allowing the creation of grain whisky. The distillery was managed as Macnab Distilleries Ltd.

Malt & single blend

In 1961 Hobbs had two wash stills and two spirit stills added to the distillery allowing the creation of single malt, single grain and single blend “Sandy Macnab’s Old Blended Scotch Whisky”. The blend Sandy Macnab blend was created by mixing both malt and grain distillate and pouring this mixture into barrels for maturation, a procedure also used at Ben Nevis for the Dew of Ben Nevis. Hobbs was a proponent of the concept of ​​'blending at birth’.

After Hobb’s death in 1964, his son Joe took control of Lochside running the plant until production was stopped in 1971 and the distillery was put up for sale. Lochside was acquired by Destilerias y Crianza (DYC) in 1973 with a small part of the production used to improve their Spanish blend whisky with Scottish malt. The production of grain whisky was discontinued. In 1987 they released a bottle of a 10 year old single malt. Lochside was once again put up for sale in 1991 because the distillery was in dire need of renovation however no buyer could be found.

In 1992 DYC was acquired by the British Allied Distillers Ltd., part of Allied Lyons, and the new company was named Allied Domecq. As Allied Domecq had several distilleries and considerably more whisky than needed for Spanish market demand Lochside ceased production in 1992 never to distill again. By 1996 the remaining barrels in the bonded warehouses were shipped to Spain. In 1997 the warehouses were demolished and the stills dismantled.

In 2005 a fire partially destroyed the remaining buildings of the distillery and through the merger of Allied Domecq, Lochside became the property of Chivas Brothers. Although there had been efforts to put the striking tower at the east end of the complex under monument protection, today nothing remains of the distillery or former brewery. Today there is a housing estate on the former site.

Lochside factsheet

Name Pronounced AKA Region Country of Origin
Lochside Highlands Scotland
Status Active Whisky Type Website Tours Available
Closed 1957 - 1992 Malt Lochside Not Available
Manager Distiller Blender Owned by Parent Group

Lochside Timeline:

1760: First reference to Montrose Brewery on the site of the distillery is noted

1899: Brewery is rebuilt by Charles Doig and acquired by James Deuchar

1957: Lochside distillery is opened by Joseph Hobbs and begins production as a grain distillery

1961: Hobbs had two wash stills and two spirit stills added

1964: Joe Hobbs Jnr tates over the distillery following the death of Joseph Hobbs Snr

1971: Lochside falls silent

1973: Lochside was acquired by Destilerias y Crianza and resumes production

1987: Lochside 10 year old single malt is released

1991: Lochside is once again put up for sale

1992: Acquired through merger by Allied Domecq and mothballed

1996: Remaining casks are moved to Spain

1997: The warehouses were demolished and the stills dismantled

2005: The remainder of the distillery is demolished

Can I tour Lochside?

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