Blair Athol distillery

Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Cloudy worts and a short fermentation time give the nutty base, but it is distillation which adds real weight to the distillate. A controlled level of solids coming across in the wash still add a rich, deep, malt-loaf character to the new make. It is this character which allows it to show so well in ex-Sherry, although for blending purposes the majority of the make is destined for ex-Bourbon.

  • Region
    Highland
  • Production type
    Single malt
  • Distillery Status
    Working

Blair Athol History

The central Perthshire town of Pitlochry sits on the banks of the River Tay and has had a distillery since 1798, making its plant one of the oldest legal whisky-making sites in Scotland. The original distillery was named Aldour after the burn which supplied it with process water, but changed its name to Blair Athol [after a village seven miles to the north] in 1825. This could conceivably have been to sweeten the Duke of Athol who owned the land

It became part of the Peter Mackenzie blending house in 1886, but like many distilleries suffered during the economic troubles of the 1930s and fell silent between 1932 and 1949. In the interim period however Mackenzie (and its estate, which also included Dufftown distillery) had been bought by Perth-based blender, Arthur Bell & Sons.

By the 1970s, Bell’s was being built into the UK’s top-selling blended Scotch and, as a result, Blair Athol was doubled in capacity. Guinness (which bought Bell’s in 1985, and after further mergers evolved into Diageo) opened a visitor’s centre in 1987.

In an attempt to tap into the then infant single malt market, Bell’s bottled it as an 8-year-old in the 1980s, but in the Diageo era it has only appeared as a member of the Flora & Fauna range (at 12 years of age), matured in first-fill ex-Sherry casks. 

Timeline

  • 1798 Aldour distillery founded by John Stewart and Robert Robertson in Pitlochry
  • 1825 The distillery name is changed to Blair Athol after a nearby village
  • 1826 The Duke of Atholl leases the distillery to Alexander Connacher & Co
  • 1860 Ownership is passed onto Elizabeth Connacher
  • 1886 Blair Athol is purchased by Peter Mackenzie, future founder of Dufftown
  • 1932 Blair Athol falls silent
  • 1933 Peter Mackenzie & Co, along with Blair Athol, is purchased by Arthur Bell & Sons
  • 1949 Production restarts at the distillery once again
  • 1973 Production capacity is expanded from two stills to four
  • 1985 Guinness buys Arthur Bell & Sons
  • 1987 Blair Athol’s visitors’ centre built

Blair Athol Facts

  • Condenser Type i
    Shell and tube
  • Fermentation Time i
    Maximum 50hrs
  • Filling Strength i
    63.5%
  • Grist Weight (t) i
    8.2
  • Heat Source i
    Steam
  • Malt Specification i
    Unpeated
  • Malt Supplier i
    Mostly in-house
  • Mash Tun Type i
    Lauter
  • New-make Strength i
    67%
  • Spirit Still Charge (l) i
    11,500
  • Spirit Still Shape i
    Plain
  • Stills i
    4
  • Wash Still Charge (l) i
    14,000
  • Wash Still Shape i
    Plain
  • Washback Type i
    4 wood, 2 steel
  • Washbacks i
    6
  • Water Source i
    Kinnaird Burn
  • Wort Clarity i
    Cloudy
  • Yeast Type i
    Creamed

Owners

Current owner

Previous owners

  • Arthur Bell & Sons 1933 - 1997
  • Peter Mackenzie & Co 1886 - 1933
  • Peter Mackenzie 1882 - 1886
  • Elizabeth Connacher 1860 - 1882
  • Alexander Connacher & Co 1852 - 1860
  • Peter Fraser & Co 1829 - 1842
  • Alexander Connacher & Co 1827 - 1829
  • James Robertson 1825 - 1826
  • John Stewart and Robert Robertson 1798 - 1825

Contact

Address
Blair Athol Distillery
Perth Road
Pitlochry
Perthshire
PH16 5LY
United Kingdom
Website
Visit Website
Phone
+44 1796 482003
Email
Send Email
Visitor Opening Hours
Monday
10am to 4pm (Nov-Easter), 5pm (Easter-Oct)
Tuesday
10am to 4pm (Nov-Easter), 5pm (Easter-Oct)
Wednesday
10am to 4pm (Nov-Easter), 5pm (Easter-Oct)
Thursday
10am to 4pm (Nov-Easter), 5pm (Easter-Oct)
Friday
10am to 4pm (Nov-Easter), 5pm (Easter-Oct)
Saturday
10am to 5pm (Easter-Oct)
Sunday
10am to 5pm (Easter-Oct)

Map

See also

  • Bell's Bell's Bell's Brand

    Bell's

    The UK’s best-selling blended Scotch.

  • Benrinnes Benrinnes Benrinnes Distillery & brand

    Benrinnes

    A highly individual Speyside whisky.

  • Brora Brora Brora Distillery & brand

    Brora

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

  • Braeval Braeval Braeval Distillery & brand

    Braeval

    The joint highest Scottish distillery.

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