Blair Athol distillery information

The Blair Athol distillery started out using the name Aldour (“Allt Dour” in Gaelic translates into “The burn of the otter”, named after a nearby stream) near Pitlochry (which is also home to Edradour) in Perthshire. Built by John Stewart and Robert Robertson in 1798, the distillery was not very successful, and eventually was shut down. In 1825, John Robertson decides to rebuild and expand the distillery, renaming it it to Blair Athol. It then was leased to John Conacher & Co. in 1826, followed by Alexander Conacher & Co in 1927 . In 1829, Peter Fraser & Co. took over, but were forced to close the distillery in 1832.

Alexander Conacher must have had some fun, because he’s mentioned running the distillery again by 1852, followed by Elizabeth Conacher from 1860 to 1882. In 1882, P. Mackenzuie & Co., wine and spirit brokers based in Liverpool) buy the distillery and expand it, adding new granaries and malting floors. In 1897, Mackenzie established P. Mackenzuie & Co. Distillers Ltd. to run Blair Athol as well as the Dufftown Distillery. The distillery was mothballed in 1932.

Arthur Bell & Sons Ltd. acquired P. Mackenzie & Co. Distillers Ltd.  in 1833, but it took until 1849 for them to extensively rebuild and reopen the distillery. In 1973, the distillery was expanded with an extra pair of stills, and the existing stills were switched to steam heating. Bell’s was doing well, becoming the best selling blend in the United Kingdom. This did not go unnoticed, and in 1985, Arthur Bell & Sons were taken over by Guinness PLC. In 1987, a visitor centre was constructed.

A few years later, Guinness would merge with International Distillers and Vintners to form United Distillers and Vintners, which later would become Diageo. Parts of the distillery are refurbished, seeing the 8 old washbacks (4 made from Oregon pine, 4 stainless steel) replaced with 6 new Stainless Steel ones.

Blair Athol whisky

A lot of the spirit produced at Blair Athol stills is used for Bell’s blends. Few official bottlings were released:

  • Flora & Fauna; 12 Years Old (released in 1991)
  • Rare Malt; 27 Years Old (released in 2003)
  • 12 Year Old

Distillery info:

NameBlair Athol
Water sourceAlt Dour Burn
Owned byDiageo

Blair Atholl Distillery
Perth Rd
Perthshire PH16 5LY
United Kingdom

+44 (0) 1796 482003

Visitor centreYes
CommunityFriends of Classic Malts

Distillery Setup:

Mash tun8 tonnes1 (Semi-Lauter)
Washback40,000 litres8 (4 Oregon pine, 4 Stainless Steel)
Wash still13,000 litres2
Spirit Still11,500 litres2
Expected yearly output in LPA (Litres of pure alcohol)2,500,000