The Dalwhinnie Distillery was founded in 1897 by the Scotsmen George Sellar and Alex Mackenzie, and sold just a few years later (in 1905) to an American company. However, the prohibition in America made the venture unprofitable for the new owners and Dalwhinnie soon ended up back in Scottish possession. Today the distillery is owned by Diaego.
In 1934 the distillery was severely damaged by a fire, and as a result production was shut down for four years. Only two years later, in 1940, the distillery had to close again; this time due to government restrictions on barley because of WW2. The distillery was reopened in 1947.
The Dalwhinnie Distillery sits at the base of the mountain Meall Cruaidh. With their 327 meters above sea level they claim to be the highest situated distillery in Scotland. With an average temperature of only 6°C, they just might be the coldest as well. With these conditions, some people might find it slightly comic that Dalwhinnie is Gaelic for ‘the meeting place’. But then again, this is the Highlands, where people are not affected by something as trivial as the weather. Dalwhinnie 15 won gold medal at International Wine and spirits 2004 for best Highland Malt aged 15-17.
Production at Dalwhinnie
The water is taken from Lochan a Doire-uaine and the Allt an t’Sluic burn (burn=small stream). Most of the water is snowmelt, and has flowed through the hills from approximately 600 metres above sea level before reaching the burn. Dalwhinnie started buying their malted and slightly smoked barley in 1968 and has done so ever since. The mill is a Boby. The mash tun holds seven tons and is made from stainless steel. The distillery has six wooden washbacks. Five of them are more than 50 years old and are made from Siberian larch. They have one wash still and one spirit still, both onion-shaped. The stills are broad with upward-leaning necks which allow for a longer distillation time. The whisky is stored on-site. The cold climate is said to limit the evaporation. The bottling is done in Leven, Fife.
Phone: +44 (0) 1540 672 219
Fax: +44 (0) 1540 152 228
Manager: David Hardy
Open January – Easter, Monday – Friday, 1pm–4pm
Easter – June, Monday – Friday, 9.30am–5pm
July – September, Monday – Saturday, 9.30am–5pm
October, Monday – Saturday, 11am–4pm
November – December, Monday – Friday, 1pm–4pm
The visitors centre was built in 1991 to better serve the increasing number of visiting tourists. The gift shop has a full line of Dalwhinnie bottlings. Guided tours start every 15 minutes at a £4 admission which is refundable upon purchase. The last tour starts one hour before closing time.