Balmenach distillery information

The Balmenach distillery was founded under the name Balminoch in 1824 by James McGregor , at the foot of the Haughs of Cromdale in the heart of the Cairngorm National Park. The story goes that in 1823 McGregor was distilling whisky illicitly, and he got a visit from the local exciseman, who noticed a waterwheel, and inquired why it was there. Following excellent hospitality on McGregor’s behalf, who explained it was a peat shed, the exciseman left but not before encouraging McGregor to license his “peat shed”. Licensing was obtained the next year, and the distillery was thus officially founded.

In 1878, James McGregor passed away, and he was succeeded by his brother, John McGregor, who returned to Scotland to take over management of the distiller after living in New Zealand. In 1879, a big storm destroyed a nearby railway bridge over the River Tay. At the distillery, it caused a chimney to collapse, which in turn started a fire. In 1897, John McGregor and his son establish Balmenach Glenlivet Distillery Ltd., and the distillery gets connected to the Cromdale railway station. It’s likely that the same year, the distillery got an additional pair of stills.

In 1922, the distillery is sold by the McGregors to a consortium of blenders, consisting of MacDonald Green, Peter Dawson and James Watson. They operated under the name Peter Dawson Ltd. In 1925, the consortium becomes part of Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd (SMD), and in 1930, the distillery is transferred to SMD completely. Between 1941 and 1947, the distillery is closed, and its buildings are used to house troops during the war.

In 1962, 2 more stills are added, bringing the total to 6. In 1964, Balmenach is fitted with so-called Saladin box maltings.

In 1968, the mash house is renovated, and in 1971, the stills are converted to be heated by steam. In 1992, the distillery is transferred to United Malt & Grain Distillers Ltd, who release the first official 12 Year Old bottle. A year later, they decide to mothball Balmenach in May 1993.

In 1997, Inver House distillers Ltd (who also own Balblair, Knockdhu, Old Pulteney & Speyburn) takes over, and the distillery is restarted a year later (the waiting was mostly caused due to regulations). In 2001, a 27 and a 28 Year Old are released, and in 2002, a 25 Year Old is released in a limited edition of 800 bottles to commemorate the Queen’s golden jubilee. However, since the takeover did apparently not include maturing casks in the warehouses, it’s likely that these releases were not by Inver House.

Balmenach whisky

Apart from the bottles mentioned above, since Inver House took over, no official bottles have been released. Every so often, though, an independent bottler might release a Balmenach. Besides whisky, the Balmenach distillery is also where Caorunn Gin is distilled.

IT’s safe to assume that the majority of the produce from Balmenach is saved for blenders, though perhaps Inver House has a few aces up its sleeves.

Distillery info:

Water sourceCromdale Burn
Owned byInver House Distillers

Balmenach distillery
Balmenach Rd
PH26 3PF

+44 (0) 1479 872569

Visitor centreNo

Distillery Setup:

Mash tun8.25 tonnes1 (Stainless Steel, Semi-Lauter)
Washback38,000 litres6 (Douglas Fir)
Wash still16,200 litres3
Spirit Still9,100 litres3
Expected yearly output in LPA (Litres of pure alcohol)2,000,000