Benromach Distillery lies on the outskirts of Forres, right beside the A96 which runs past the town. The word ‘Benromach’ translates into ‘mount Romach’, and originates from the Romach hills which stand a few kilometres south of the Distillery.
The Benromach Distillery was founded in 1898 by FW Brickham and Duncan McCallum. FW Brickham was a whisky broker as well as the Director of Oban and Aultmore Distilleries Ltd, and Duncan McCallum was the founder of the Glen Nevis Distillery in Campbeltown. The distillery was designed by Charles Doig who was a prominent distillery engineer and architect at the time.
The distillery was all but finished when the Pattison crash occurred in December 1898 (a severe depression in the whisky industry caused by aggressive and speculative growth tactics by the Pattison family). As a result, the distillery did not start production until the fall of 1909. Only five years later, in 1914, the distillery had to close again due to WW1. At the end of the war the distillery was bought by John Joseph Calder who immediately sold it on to the Benromach Distillery Ltd, a private company owned by several brewery companies including the Greenlees & Williams Ltd which was controlled by Joseph’s brother James.
Benromach was mothballed between 1925 and 1937. In 1938 the distillery was transferred to the Associated Scottish Distilleries Ltd who later were acquired by the National Distillers of America (NDS). In 1953 Benromach was bought by the Distillers Company Ltd (DCL) who transferred Benromach to the Scottish Malt Distillers company (SMD).
The distillery was renovated in 1966 when the still house was rebuilt and equipped with a new oil-fired boiler (probably the first in Scotland). Further changes were made in 1968 when the maltings were converted into a warehouse and in 1974 when the mash house and the tunroom were renovated and modernised.
On March 24th in 1983 Benromach was closed again and remained so until 1993 when it was bought by its current owner Gordon & MacPhail. The distillery was refurbished with new steam-heated stills which were made smaller than the previous two. A new mash tun was also installed and the wooden washbacks were dismantled, renovated and reassembled.
Production resumed in 1998, almost exactly 100 years after the distillery was founded. HRH Prince of Wales hosted the reopening and signed the first cask to be produced by the ‘new’ distillery. In 1999 a visitor centre named the ‘Malt Whisky Centre’ was opened in the old Drier House. One year later the centre was awarded a four-star visitor attraction grading from the Scottish Tourist Board.
In 2004 Benromach launched their first bottling since the reopening, the Benromach Traditional which had been stored for 5 ½ years in Bourbon (80 percent) and Sherry casks (20 percent). Benromach also offer several single malt bottlings produced before the reopening.
Production at Benromach
Benromach draw their water from the Chapelton Springs in the heart of the Romach hills. The Barley (Chariot) is bought slightly peated primarily from the Moray Firth Maltings. The mash tun is made from stainless steel and holds 1.5 tons. The four larch washbacks each hold 11 000 litres. The wash still is onion shaped and has a capacity of 7 500 litres while the spirit still is a boiling ball model and holds 5 000 litres. Both stills are steam heated and have rather short and wide necks.
The whisky is stored primarily in bourbon casks but sherry casks are also used. The casks are stored on site in traditional warehouses. Bottling is done in the Gordon & McPhail facility in Elgin.
The annual output of Benromach is between 150 000 and 200 000 litres.
Benromach Distillery & Malt Whisky Centre
Phone: +44 (0) )1309 675968
Fax: +44 (0)
Distillery Manager: Keith Cruickshank
Visitors: Opening Times
October to December, February and March (excluding Christmas): Monday to Friday 10am – 4pm (last tour 3pm). April to September: Monday to Saturday 9.30am – 5pm (last tour 4pm). Open also on Sundays in June, July and August 12 noon – 4pm (last tour 3pm).
Adult (18years and over) £3.00 (The admission includes a voucher for £2.50 redeemable at the Distillery against a purchase of 70cl Malt Whisky aged 10 years or more)
Groups of 12 or more are urged to phone in advance. The gift shop is well stocked with glassware, clothes, whisky from the Benromach Distillery and many other bottlings from Gordon & MacPhail.
Owner: Gordon & MacPhail