Balblair distillery information

The Balblair distillery was established in Edderton, Ross-shire in the Scottish Highlands in 1790 by John Ross, who was joined by his son Andrew in 1824. In 1862, the Highland Railway Company built a line between Inverness and Ardgay, passing closely by the distillery. Balblair remained in the hands of the Ross family until 1894, when it was bought by Alexander Cowan, a wine merchant from Inverness. Under Cowan’s guidance, the distillery was rebuilt (designed by famous distillery architect Charles C. Doig) closer to the railroad, roughly half a mile north of the old location, though they stuck to using the original water source (despite a nearby burn being available).

In 1911, Cowan was forced to mothball the distillery, and it remained closed until it was bought by Robert “Bertie” Cummings, a lawyer from Keith, in 1948. The distillery was reopened a year later. Cummings would also increased capacity and production, adding additional warehouses and a steam boiler in 1964, as well as adding a third still. In 1970, Cumming retired and sold the distillery to Hiram Walker; the company that would later become Allied Distillers. 10 years later, in 1980, it’s once again time for improvements; this time in the mash house. Two new steel grist bins are installed, and the roof is replaced.

In 1996, Balblair Distillery is bought by Inver House Distillers (who also operate Speyburn, Knockdhu, Old Pulteney and Balmenach).

Nowadays, Balblair is somewhat dwarfed by it’s famous neighbor in Tain, Glenmorangie. Roughly 15% of the whisky distilled at Balblair is sold as single malt. The majority will find its way into blends.

Balblair whisky

Rather than putting age labels on their bottles, Balblair chooses to simply add the year of distillation.

The current core range consists of:

  • Vintage 1969 First release (grey luxury box). Matured in American oak, ex-bourbon hogshead casks.
  • Vintage 1983 First release (purple packaging). Matured in American oak, ex-Bourbon barrels.
  • Vintage 1990 2nd release (red packaging). Matured in American oak ex-Bourbon casks and Spanish oak ex-Sherry butts.
  • Vintage 1999 First release (purple packaging). Matured in Spanish oak, ex-Sherry butts.
  • Vintage 1999 2nd release (green packaging).
  • Vintage 2003 First release (blue packaging). Matured in American oak, ex-Bourbon barrels.
  • Vintage 2004 Sherry matured. First Release (pink packaging). Matured in American and Spanish oak ex-Sherry butts.
  • Vintage 2004 Bourbon matured. First Release (orange packaging). Matured in Bourbon barrels.

Distillery info:

Water sourceThe Allt Dearg
Owned byInver House Distillers Limited

Ross-Shire IV19 1LB
United Kingdom

+44 (0) 1862 821273

Visitor centreYes
CommunityThe Gathering Place

Distillery Setup:

Mash tun4.75 tonnes1 (Stainless steel, semi-lauter)
Washback23,000 litres6 (Oregon pine)
Wash still19,000 litres1
Spirit Still11,000 litres2 (1 not in use)
Expected yearly output in LPA (Litres of pure alcohol)1,350,000