Strathisla distillery

Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky

It is Strathisla’s small stills which help to give the distillery its character. Although on paper the spirit should be light and fragrant, distillation helps to add heft and weight to the new make. Though widely used in blends – Chivas Regal in particular – it is seen as a tricky customer by blenders as it needs time to hit maturity when its full range of complexities is revealed.

  • Region
    Speyside
  • Production type
    Single malt
  • Distillery Status
    Working
  • Brands produced here
    Craigduff

Strathisla History

What is most surprising about Strathisla is that so little is made of the fact that this is the oldest licensed distillery in Scotland. It started life as the brewery of the local monastery and turned itself to the making of whisky in 1786, one of the few distilleries in what is now the Speyside region to go legal. It was known as Milltown/Milton until 1870, but its whisky was long known as Strathisla after the river which it sits beside. The distillery was renamed Strathisla in 1951.

It had a period of considerable fame in the late 19th and early 20th century when it was bottled as a single malt, but by the late 1940s it had fallen on hard times.

Acting on behalf of Sam Bronfman’s Seagram, the legendary whisky broker Jimmy Barclay bought it for £71,000 at auction in 1950, the year after its previous owner had been jailed for tax evasion. It began to rise in prominence immediately as the first piece in Bronfman’s plans for a reformulated Chivas Regal 12 Year Old.

A major tourist attraction with a fair claim to be Scotland’s prettiest distillery, in recent times it has played the role of the ‘home’ of Chivas Regal. That accolade also explains why this is a relatively small player in terms of single malt with Gordon & MacPhail being the main resource for bottlings. A repackaging in 2013 however suggests that times may be changing as far as official bottlings are concerned. 

Timeline

  • 1786 Alexander Milne and George Taylor license Milltown distillery, making it the oldest registered plant in Scotland
  • 1823 The distillery is purchased by Macdonald Ingram & Co.
  • 1830 William Longmore purchases the distillery
  • 1880 Longmore retires and the distillery is passed to son-in-law John Geddes-Brown who creates William Longmore & Co.
  • 1890 The distillery's name is changed to Milton
  • 1940 Jay Pomeroy purchases a majority share of the company, but is jailed for tax evasion and the distillery is bankrupted
  • 1950 Acting on behalf of Seagram, Jimmy Barclay purchases the distillery at auction for £71,000
  • 1951 The distillery's name is changed once more to Strathisla
  • 1965 Two additional stills are installed, bringing the total to four
  • 1970 Strathisla begins a short run of a heavily peated whisky, Craigduff
  • 2001 Now part of Chivas Brothers, the group is purchased by Pernod Ricard
  • 2013 The Strathisla brand is given a packaging update

Strathisla Facts

  • Capacity (mlpa) i
    2.4
  • Condenser Type i
    Shell and tube
  • Fermentation Time i
    54hrs
  • Grist Weight (t) i
    5.32
  • Heat Source i
    Steam heating coils
  • Malt Specification i
    Non peated
  • Malt Supplier i
    Bairds
  • Mash Tun Material i
    Stainless Steel
  • Mash Tun Type i
    Traditional
  • New-make Strength i
    72%
  • Spirit Still Charge (l) i
    8,081
  • Spirit Still Shape i
    Boiling balls
  • Spirit Still Size (l) i
    11,900
  • Stills i
    4 (2 wash, 2 spirit)
  • Wash Still Charge (l) i
    11,900
  • Wash Still Shape i
    Lantern
  • Wash Still Size (l) i
    13,500
  • Washback Size (l) i
    23,800
  • Washback Type i
    Wood
  • Washbacks i
    10
  • Water Source i
    Broomhill, Cossburn Springs
  • Yeast Type i
    Kerry

Owners

Parent company

Current owner

Previous owners

  • Seagram Distillers 1950 - 2001
  • George Jay Pomeroy 1940 - 1949
  • William Longmore 1830 - 1940
  • McDonald Ingram & Co 1823 - 1830
  • Alexander Milne and George Taylor 1786 - 1823

Contact

Address
Strathisla Distillery
Seafield Avenue
Keith
Moray
AB55 5BS
United Kingdom
Website
Visit Website
Phone
+44 1542 783044
Email
Send Email
Visitor Opening Hours
Monday
9.30am (mid-Mar to mid-Nov), 10am (Jan to mid-Mar) to 2pm (Jan to mid-Mar, closed noon-1pm), 5pm (mid-Mar to mid-Nov)
Tuesday
9.30am (mid-Mar to mid-Nov), 10am (Jan to mid-Mar) to 2pm (Jan to mid-Mar, closed noon-1pm), 5pm (mid-Mar to mid-Nov)
Wednesday
9.30am (mid-Mar to mid-Nov), 10am (Jan to mid-Mar) to 2pm (Jan to mid-Mar, closed noon-1pm), 5pm (mid-Mar to mid-Nov)
Thursday
9.30am (mid-Mar to mid-Nov), 10am (Jan to mid-Mar) to 2pm (Jan to mid-Mar, closed noon-1pm), 5pm (mid-Mar to mid-Nov)
Friday
9.30am (mid-Mar to mid-Nov), 10am (Jan to mid-Mar) to 2pm (Jan to mid-Mar, closed noon-1pm), 5pm (mid-Mar to mid-Nov)
Saturday
9.30am to 5pm (mid-Mar to Mid-Nov)
Sunday
noon to 5pm (mid-Mar to Mid-Nov)

Map

See also

  • Aberlour Aberlour Aberlour Distillery & brand

    Aberlour

    Part of Chivas Brothers' portfolio, Aberlour is best known for its cult expression, A'Bunadh.

  • Braeval Braeval Braeval Distillery & brand

    Braeval

    The joint highest Scottish distillery.

  • Glen Keith Glen Keith Glen Keith Distillery & brand

    Glen Keith

    Experimental site with a fruity whisky.

  • Glenallachie Glenallachie Glenallachie Distillery & brand

    Glenallachie

    Delicate and fruity filling for blends.

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