Strathisla Distillery was founded in 1786 by Alexander Milne and George Taylor, which makes it the oldest distillery in Speyside. Although the illicit distillery was built in the valley (strath) by the river Isla, it was not initially named Strathisla but instead went under the name of Milltown because of its proximity to Miltown Castle. The whisky produced was however called Strahisla-Glenlivet.
The distillery was sold to William Longmorne in 1828. Longmorne successfully ran the distillery for many years and greatly expanded the capacity by replacing the original 500 litre stills with two stills holding 10.000 and 20.000 litres each. In the mid-1880s much of the distillery was lost to a fire and was replaced with the beautiful buildings we see today. The twin pagoda roof is likely to be one of the very first in Scotland. Strathisla was one of the first distilleries in Scotland to launch their whisky as a single malt besides supplying the blended industry. In 1880 it also became the first distillery in northern Scotland to be included in a limited company.
The distillery changed names between Strathisla and Milton or Milltown a few times in the late 19th century, but ended up being called Milton (or Milltown) Distillery until 1950 when it was sold to Chivas Brothers who renamed it Strathisla Distillery. In 1965 the number if stills were expanded from two to four. Chivas Brothers still own the distillery and have moved their headquarters to the distillery together with a laboratory and a research and development department.
Production at Strathisla
Strathisla Distillery takes its water from a spring right across the road called Fons Bullion (the bubbling spring). Their malt is bought lightly peated from local suppliers (Pauls of Buckie). For a short period of time Strathisla made a more peated whisky, the Craigduff, in order to take some market share from tthe Islay whiskies. The attempt was unsuccessful and production of Craigduff was soon discontinued.
Strathisla has a copper top mash tun, which holds five tons. The ten washbacks are made from Oregon pine, each with a capacity of 22.500 litres. The distillery uses four copper stills; two lantern-model wash stills which hold 12.500 litres each, and two wide-necked boiling ball spirit stills with a capacity of 8.500 litres each. Since there is no room for warehouses on site, Strathisla store their whisky in the town of Keith. The whisky is matured in sherry and bourbon casks. Bottling is done in Newbridge outside of Edinburgh.
In 1999 Strathisla produced close to two million litres of whisky. Strathisla is an important component of the blended whisky Chivas Regal.
Seafiled Avenue, Keith, Banffshire AB55 5BS
Phone: +44 (0) 1542-783 044
Fax: +44 (0) 1542-783 055
Distillery Manager: Alan Greig
Visitors: Visitors are welcome between April and October Monday-Friday 10am-4pm, Sunday 12.30am-4pm. The modern visitor centre was built in 1995. Guided tours are held as demand dictates, admission is £5. Strathisla also has a tour book, which is much appreciated by visitors. Upon advance booking, groups of more than 205 visitors receive a 10 percent discount in the fully stocked gift shop.
The visitor centre does not house a café although coffee is served. The old mash room has been converted into an inviting Dram Room where visitors may enjoy the Strathisla 12 yo.
Owner: Chivas Brothers Ltd / Pernod Ricard