Ainslie & Heilbron Distillers Profile

For a few years Ainslie & Heilbron owned and operated the original Clynelish distillery (also known as Brora). However, to stave off bankruptcy after the Pattison Crash, it sold the distillery to concentrate on whisky blending. A number of mergers soon followed until it joined DCL in 1925.

Ainslie & Heilbron Distillers History

This company can trace its origins back to 1868 when James Ainslie & Co. was founded as a wine and spirit merchant in Leith, Edinburgh. The company proved to be very successful and, at the height of the whisky boom, purchased the Clynelish distillery in 1896 and completely re-built it within two years.

However, James Ainslie & Co. suffered along with the rest of the Scotch whisky industry after the Pattison crash of 1898, and in 1912 only survived bankruptcy by selling Clynelish to James Risk (the former owner of Bankier distillery in the Scottish Lowlands) and DCL, who took a half share each. The next year the company merged with fellow blenders Walter Baillie & Sons, Robertson Brothers and John Gillon & Co. to form Ainslie, Baillie & Co. of Leith.

This company traded until 1921 when, upon the retirement of Robert Ainslie, son of founder James, the company was liquidated and taken over by Sir James Calder, the chairman of blender Alexander & Macdonald. Calder merged the company with another old blending company, David Heilbron Ltd., and distilling company Colville Greenlees & Co, owner of the Argyll distillery in Campbeltown, to form Ainslie & Heilbron (Distillers) Ltd.

By 1925 Ainslie & Heilbron had become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Calder’s expanded MacDonald, Greenlees & Williams Ltd. of Leith. That same year he sold MacDonald, Greenlees & Williams to DCL, along with his own distillery Dalwhinnie, bringing Ainslie & Heilbron under the control of the distilling giant.

Distilleries & Brands


Ainslie & Heilbron Distillers Limited
Distillers House
33 Ellersly Road
EH12 6JW
United Kingdom

See also

  • Brora Brora Brora Distillery & brand


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

  • Auchroisk Auchroisk Auchroisk Distillery & brand


    One of Diageo’s ‘nutty-spicy’ sites.

  • Benrinnes Benrinnes Benrinnes Distillery & brand


    A highly individual Speyside whisky.

  • Blair Athol Blair Athol Blair Athol Distillery & brand

    Blair Athol

    The home of Bell's blended whisky.

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