Balblair Whisky Distillery

Balblair Whisky Distillery & Story

Balblair whisky distillery is in the northern Highlands Region. Located close to Glenmorangie whisky distillery,  approximately 39 miles  north of Inverness on the A9 then A836.

The Balblair (bal-blair) whisky Distillery house stile is for a light and delicate whisky. The Balblair used to be bottled by age.

However since 2007 the single malt whiskies have been bottled by vintage, Ie 1965 thru to 2005. Although not every year is released.

These “Vintage” and older aged whiskies are collectable as they become discontinued.

How the Balblair story began

Originally founded in 1790 by James McKeddy. However before the year was out ownership moved onto John Ross.

Balblair is the second oldest working distillery in Scotland. It is situated on the Dornoch firth, one of the most stunning scenic areas of Scotland. The area is known as the ‘parish of the peats’ whilst the name Balblair means battlefield or town of the plain.

John Ross ran it as a thriving business until in 1817, when he was sequestrated. However, this did not stop him and in 1824 was joined by his son Andrew in the family business.

During 1836 John Ross passes away leaving the distillery to his son Andrew Ross.

In 1872 the old buildings are replaced. The following year Andrew Ross dies. His son James takes over.

The distillery stayed in the Ross family until in 1894 when the tenancy was taken over by Alexander Cowan. Who lasts until 1911 before he ceases trading and the distillery closes.

The distillery owners, the Balangowan Estate goes into bankruptcy in 1941, so the Balblair distillery is put up for sale.

In 1948 the freehold was bought by Mr. Robert Cumming for £48,000. (£1.728,000 at 2017 prices). Who promptly expanded the distillery and re-started production the following year.

Mr Cumming ran the distillery until 1970 when he sold it Hiram Walker. For the first time in its history Balblair was not owned by local businessmen.

With the merger of Hiram Walker and Allied Vitners to become Allied distillers the new owners in 1988.

In 1996 Balblair was purchased by Inverhouse Distillers. To go with its Knockdhu (anCnoc malt whisky), Pulteney,  Speyburn distilleries. The Balmenach distillery added to the Inverhouse portfolio the following year.

No Age Statement Balblair Elements and a 33 year old are released in 2000.

During 2001 Pacific Spirits purchase Inverhouse for $85 million.

A 38 year old is released in 2004.

The following year limited editions. peaty cask 12 year old, 26 and 35 year olds are released.

International Beverage Holdings take over Pacific Spirits UK in 2006.

The following year three new “Vintages” replaces the former range of Balblair Elements and 10 year old.

From 2007 the range consists of  yearly vintage releases.

2008 – 1975 and 1965 vintages.

2009 – 1991 and 1990 vintages.

2010 – 1978 and 2000 vintages.

A modern visitor centre and shop was built in 2011. Release 1995 and 1993 vintages.

2012 – 1975, 2001 and 2002 vintages.

2013 – 1983, 1990 and 2003 vintages.

2014 – 1999 and 2004 vintages.

2016 – 2005 vintage.

The distillery itself is a two pot still setup capable of producing approximately 1.4 million litres of whisky a year. The water is drawn from the Ault Dearg burn which originates in the Struie hill.

Today the Ross legacy of the area lives on as four out of the seven current employees share the surname Ross.

Balblair Whisky Distillery

Founded in 1790 by John Ross.

Location; Highlands. Northern Region.

Water source; The Allt Dearg

Balblair Whisky Distillery Equipment;

4.75 tonne stainless steel full lauter mash tun.

6 Oregon pine washbacks. Fermentation time 56 hours.

Pair of pot stills.


Balblair Whisky Distillery
Balblair Whisky Distillery Logo

Our Top 3 Balblair whiskies

Balblair Whisky Distillery External

Take a tour of the Balblair Whisky Distillery

The Balblair whisky distillery visitors centre is well worth a visit and regularly run guided tours of the distillery throughout the course of the day.

A number of the tours include tasting sessions where you can sample some of the drams they have to offer.

Click here for more information on the Balblair visitors centre

Balblair Whisky Distillery In the snow

Our Balblair Whisky Range - In stock and available to buy