Ben Nevis Distillery Information

The Ben Nevis distillery was founded in 1825 by “Long John” McDonald (aptly named so due to his imposing 6 foot, 4 inch height). The distillery is located at Lochy Bridge in Fort William, just at the base of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland (and the British Isles). Its water source, the Allt a’Mhuilinn originates on the mountain from two springs: Coire Leis and Coire na’Ciste. In 1826, McDonald was joined by Angus McDonnel, but their cooperation was shortlived, and ceased in 1831. Originally, the whisky was sold under the name “Long John’s Dew of Ben Nevis”.

When Long John passed away in 1856, ownership of the distillery passed to his son Donald P. McDonald. In 1878, under his guidance a second distillery was established nearby, under the name Nevis Distillery. This was done in an attempt to keep up with the rising demand for whisky. The distillery is transferred to Long John’s Ben Nevis Distilleries Ltd in 1882, still operated by Donald P. McDonald. In the early years of the Twentieth century (1908 to be exact), the two distilleries eventually merged into one again. In 1910, the distillery is transferred once again, this time to D.P. McDonald & Sons Ltd.

In 1941, D.P. McDonald & Sons Ltd is taken over by Ben Nevis Distillery (Fort William Ltd). In 1955, the distillery officially switches to their ownership, under direction of Joseph Hobbs, who had a Coffey still installed, in order to also produce Grain Whisky at the distillery. Hobbs dies in 1964, and ownership passes to his son Joseph Hobbs Jr. In 1978, production at the distillery stops, and in 1981, it’s sold by Hobs Jr to Long John Distillers (A subsidiary of Whitbread & Co), who dismantle the Coffey still.

Between 1983 and 1984, the distillery is closed for renovation and reconstruction, resuming production again until 1986 when it’s once again closed. 3 years later, in 1989, Whitbread sells the distillery to Japanese firm Nikka Whisky, who reopen it in 1991, with a brand new visitor center. Production has been steady since, and the quality of the whisky has steadily improved over the years.

Ben Nevis Whisky

The current core range consists of a number of Single Malt whiskies, as well as a few blends:

  • 10 Years Old
  • 16 Years Old
  • 21 Years Old
  • McDonald’s Glencoe “8 Year Old Vatted” Malt, 58% ABV
  • Dew of Ben Nevis “12 Year Old Deluxe” Blend
  • Dew of Ben Nevis “Supreme Selection” Blend
  • Dew of Ben Nevis “Special Reserve” Blend; no-age statement
  • Dew of Ben Nevis “Blue label” Blend; no-age statement

Distillery info:

NameBen Nevis
Water sourceAllt a’Mhuilinn
Owned byNikka

Ben Nevis Distillery
Lochy Bridge
Fort William
PH33 6TJ
United Kingdom

+44 (0) 1397 702476

Visitor centreYes

Distillery Setup:

Mash tun? tonnes1
Washbackwashback_c litres6 (4 Stainless Steel, 2 Douglas Spar, unused)
Wash still? litres2
Spirit Still? litres2
Expected yearly output in LPA (Litres of pure alcohol)2,000,000