Oban Whisky Distillery & Story
Oban whisky distillery is located on the west coast of the Scottish Highlands.
Situated in the town centre of Oban (oa-bun), just off the the main shopping on George Street. The town is now a well established ferry port.
The Oban distillery house style is a light bodied, Coastal Maritime style with gentle fruits and fresh peat.
How the Oban Distillery story began
Oban in 1778 was little more than a fishing village when the Stevenson brothers John and Hugh arrived.
Together they established a boat building yard, a tannery and in the early 1790s a brewery, which had become the Oban distillery by 1794.
The rest of the town developed around the distillery.
In 1822 Hugh’s son Thomas Stevenson became the distillery manager and purchased the other owners’ shares.
Unfortunately Thomas Stevenson became bankrupt in 1829 due to financial difficulties brought about by supporting his brother in a printing business in Edinburgh.
He attempted to satisfy his creditors by supplying them with slates and whisky. This didn’t work and the creditors briefly took control.
However his oldest son, John Stevenson managed to keep the company in the family by buying back the distillery for £1,500. (=£149,000 at todays values).
John Stevenson operated the distillery until 1866 when Peter Cumstie purchased the distillery.
The distillery was then acquired by James Walter Higgin in 1883 and between 1890 and 1894 he dismantled and rebuilt the distillery a section at a time, in order to keep up production.
Such was the demand for Oban’ malt whisky. He carefully replicated the famously small stills and other traditional features in order to preserve the quality of the whisky.
Alexander Edward, who also owned Aultmore Distillery, bought out Higgin in 1898 forming the Oban & Aultmore Distilleries Ltd.
However during the new company’s first year of operation it suffered major losses when a major blending company, Pattison’s of Leith went bankrupt.
In 1923, Oban & Aultmore Distilleries Ltd was sold to Buchanan – Dewar & Sons.
The distillery traded under the new name of The Oban Distillery Company Ltd. Which joined the Distillers Company Limited in 1925.
This became part of the Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd in 1930.
Oban distillery fell silent from 1931 until 1937, then again during the Second World War.
The location of the distillery, hemmed in between the cliffs and the other town buildings, prevented further external expansion.
During 1968 the floor maltings stopped and the distillery closed for re-construction.
The stillhouse was rebuilt with a new wash and spirit still. Production resumed in 1972.
Since 1988 the whisky has been promoted as part of the Classic Malts of Scotland range. The business is now part of Diageo.
A new visitors’ centre was installed in 1989.
In 1998 the Distillers Edition Oban bottling launched, which is matured in Montilla sherry casks. Awarded a gold medal at the International Wines and Spirits Competition in 2002.
The Oban Whisky Distillery
Founded in 1794 by brothers John and Hugh Stevenson.
Location; Highland region, western district, Town centre of Oban.
Water source; Loch Gleann a’ Bhearraidh.
Oban Whisky Distillery Equipment;
6.5 tonne Stainless steel mash tun with rakes.
4 European larch washbacks.
1 pair Lampglass shaped stills. Fitted with traditional worm condensers.
Matured in American oak bourbon casks some double matured in Montilla Fino Sherry casks.
Our Oban whiskies
Take a tour of the Oban distillery
The Oban 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.