Arran distillery

Island Single Malt Scotch Whisky

As an island whisky, it might be thought that Arran would always have been peaty. Instead, it started life as a non-smoky ‘Highland-style' malt. Like any new build distillery, the equipment is in an easily managed single tier space with small semi-lauter mashtun, wooden washbacks and two pairs of small stills.

The character shows light cereal crunchiness behind a distinctly citric note. Arran has also shown that this distillate, allied to a quality-focused wood policy, has given single malt that is capable of extended ageing. These days, peated malt is also being run.

  • Region
  • Production type
    Single malt
  • Distillery Status
  • Brands produced here
    Robert Burns

Arran History

Although the Arran distillery is relatively new (production started in 1995), the island in the Firth of Clyde has a long history of whisky-making. A fertile place, the farmers in the south of the island had plenty of raw materials to work with, and when home distillation and small stills were effectively banned in the late 18th century, they simply went underground.

After all, demand for smuggled whisky was on the rise and Arran had excellent links to Glasgow. There is some evidence that molasses was also distilled here. When the law changed, a legal distillery ran at Lagg from 1825, but it closed in 1837 and Arran’s distilling heritage was seemingly lost forever.

All that changed in 1995 when a consortium, headed by former Chivas Bros MD Harold Currie, chose a site at Lochranza in the north of the island. The decision to move to a part of Arran that was previously unknown for whisky was a result of two facts: a good water supply and potential for tourism. Today, in excess of 60,000 people visit the distillery every year.

Further cash was made by selling casks of whisky to private individuals, but the scheme was halted when it was discovered that, though the money raised was useful in creating initial cashflow, it resulted in the distillery not owning a significant percentage of its own stock – a problem when trying to build a brand.

Bottling started with a limited edition three-year-old in 1998 and the range has continued to expand, although today there are fewer ‘finished’ variants than in the past. A peated expression, ‘Machrie Moor’, has also been introduced.

In 2017 an expansion of the distillery was completed with the installation of an additional wash and spirit still, more than doubling Arran’s capacity to 1.2m litres per year. To accommodate the growing number of visitors to the distillery, Arran added a second tasting room to its visitor centre, and built an adjacent facility with meeting room, tasting bar and blending room named Rowan House.

Parent company Isle of Arran Distillers opened a second distillery, Lagg, in the south of the island in 2019, then revamped the Arran range with clean, modern packaging plus the introduction of new core expressions Barrel Reserve and The Bodega – as the name suggests, a Sherry cask-matured whisky.


  • 1994 Work starts on building a distillery at Lochranza, Arran
  • 1995 Distilling officially commences at Arran
  • 1997 Arran’s visitors’ centre is opened by Queen Elizabeth II
  • 1998 The distillery’s first bottling, a limited edition three-year-old, is released
  • 2010 Arran releases its first peated single malt, Machrie Moor
  • 2015 The distillery releases its first limited edition bottling of an 18-year-old
  • 2017 Arran's production capacity is doubled with the installation of two additional stills
  • 2019 The Arran range is revamped in the wake of the opening of a sister distillery, Lagg, in the south of the island

Arran Facts

  • Capacity (mlpa) i
  • Condenser Type i
    Shell and tube
  • Fermentation Time i
  • Filling Strength i
  • Grist Weight (t) i
  • Heat Source i
    Indirect steam through a bank of thin, stainless steam plates
  • Malt Specification i
    Unpeated (46 weeks per year), 20ppm (four weeks per year) or 50ppm (2 weeks per year)
  • Malt Supplier i
    Boortmalt, Glenesk Maltings
  • Mash Tun Type i
    Semi Lauter
  • New-make Strength i
  • Single Malt Percentage i
  • Spirit Still Charge (l) i
  • Spirit Still Shape i
    Bulb shape with a long narrow lyne arm
  • Stills i
  • Warehousing i
    Dunnage, racked and palletised
  • Wash Still Charge (l) i
  • Wash Still Shape i
    Broad pot with a tall narrow neck and long narrow lyne arm
  • Washback Charge (l) i
  • Washback Size (l) i
  • Washback Type i
  • Washbacks i
  • Water Source i
    Gleann Easan Biorach
  • Wort Clarity i
  • Yeast Type i
    Kerry 'M' strain


Current owner


Arran Distillery
Isle of Arran
KA27 8HJ
United Kingdom
+44 1770 830334
Visitor Opening Hours
10am (11am Nov-Feb) to 5.30pm
10am (11am Nov-Feb) to 5.30pm
10am (11am Nov-Feb) to 5.30pm
10am (11am Nov-Feb) to 5.30pm
10am (11am Nov-Feb) to 5.30pm
10am (11am Nov-Feb) to 5.30pm
10am to 5.30pm


See also

  • Lagg Lagg Lagg Distillery


    Experimental single malt distillery on the Isle of Arran with a focus on peat.

  • Isle of Arran Distillers Isle of Arran Distillers Isle of Arran Distillers Distiller & blender

    Isle of Arran Distillers

    Independent distilling operation, with two distilleries, located on the Isle of Arran.

  • Isle of Harris Distillers Isle of Harris Distillers Isle of Harris Distillers Distiller

    Isle of Harris Distillers

    The holding company created to build and operate Isle of Harris distillery.

  • Ardincaple Ardincaple Ardincaple Distillery


    Ardincaple was a short-lived distillery on the Island of Seil, south of Oban.

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