Helmsdale distillery

Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Although many distilleries were established in neighbouring Caithness, Sutherland had relatively few, by far the best-known being Brora, or Clynelish which is still distilling today.

It’s difficult to accurately locate where Helmsdale distillery stood. Logically (and from its rough OS coordinates) it sat on the east bank of the Helmsdale River, but it is risky to be more precise than that. It is possible the distillery used coal from the Brora mine, 15 miles to the south, but the difficulty in transporting it at the time means locally-dug peat was probably used. 

  • Region
  • Production type
    Single malt
  • Distillery Status

Helmsdale History

Helmsdale distillery was first licensed to A & D Simpson in 1825, which ran the site until 1831. The company changed to Alexander Simpson & Co., which continued to operate Helmsdale until 1837, when it seems to have lain unused for a short period. The site was eventually licensed to James Christie & Co., which was sequestrated in 1840 and the distillery was closed and dismantled.


  • 1825 A & D Simpson establish Helmsdale distillery in Sutherland
  • 1831 The licence is transferred to Alexander Simpson & Co.
  • 1837 Helmsdale is closed, but re-opened at an unknown date by James Christie & Co.
  • 1840 James Christie & Co. is sequestrated and Helmsdale distillery is finally closed


United Kingdom

See also

  • Brora Brora Brora Distillery & brand


    Originally known as Clynelish, Brora has become a cult whisky.

  • Clynelish Clynelish Clynelish Distillery & brand


    Highlands site built next to Brora.

  • Gladfield Gladfield Gladfield Distillery


    Also spelled Gledfield, this was a fleeting distillery in Ross and Cromarty from 1798-99.

  • Skelbo Skelbo Skelbo Distillery


    A remote 18th century distillery in Sutherland that was opened and closed in 1798 under James Boag.

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