Oban distillery Information

The Oban distillery was founded in 1794 by brothers Hugh, James, and John Stevenson in what later would become the town of Oban. The coastal town grew around the distillery, and is located in the Scottish Highlands. The brothers dealt in commodities and had purchased the site years before to quarry slate from. They had little experience distilling whisky, so they employed the help of a gentleman who had served as a distiller in the Lowlands. Ownership later passed to Hugh’s son Thomas, who had to throw in the towel when he hit financial trouble. Thomas’ son John takes over management, returning from Peru to help save the business. The Stevenson family remained in control of the distillery until 1866, when it was purchased by Peter Curnstie. In 1880, the distillery is connected to a railway.

New owners

In 1883, the Oban distillery is bought by James Walter Higgin, who declares it “the finest sma’ still whisky in the Highlands”. Between 1883 and 1887, the distillery is rebuilt. During the work, a cave is discovered behind the distillery. Excavation revealed Mesolithic remains. The cave has been sealed again now.

In 1898, at the height of the whisky boom of the late 19th century, Higgin sells Oban to the Oban and AultmoreGlenlivet Distilleries Ltd; a partnership between Aultmore owner Alexander Edward and Glasgow merchants Wrigt & Greig, as well as FW Brickman, a merchant from Leith.  Part of Oban was owned by the Pattison brothers at some point in time. When Pattison Ltd. went bust, it caused a major collapse of the whisky industry.

In 1923, following the lift of the wartime restrictions, Oban-Aultmore-Glenlivet Distilleries Ltd sold the distillery on to Oban Distillery Co Ltd., a subsidiary of John Dear & Sons Ltd. In 1925, it was transferred to Distillers Company Ltd (DCL), who passed it to Scottish Malt Distilleries Ltd (SMD) in 1930. The distillery was closed between 1931 and 1937, following the great recession, and the prohibition i the United States.

Renovations and modernisation

Between 1969 and 1972, the distillery once again closed for renovations. When it reopened, it had a brand new still-house, with the stills converted from direct coal-firing to steam heating. As much of the original distillery as possible was recreated. This was in order for it to resemble Higgin’s setup as much as possible.

In 1989, the former malting floor is converted to a visitor centre. In the same year, Oban 14 Years Old is added to the Classic Malt selection (along with Cragganmore, Dalwhinnie, GlenkinchieLagavulin and Talisker).

Oban whisky

There are two core expressions:

  • 14 Year Old
  • Distillers Edition; finished in Montilla Fino sherry casks

Distillery info:

Water sourceTwo Lochs in Ardconnel
Owned byDiageo

Oban Distillery
Stafford St
Oban PA34 5NH
United Kingdom

+44 (0) 1631 572004

Visitor centreYes
CommunityClassic Malts

Distillery Setup:

Mash tun6.5 tonnes1 (Stainless Steel, full-lauter)
Washbackwashback_c litres4 (Euopean Larch)
Wash still18,800 litres1
Spirit Still8,296 litres1
Expected yearly output in LPA (Litres of pure alcohol)670,000