The History Of Balblair

The Dornoch Firth is a historically significant part of the Highlands of Scotland. This beautifully remote location with its air of mystery is celebrated by the Balblair Malt.

Built on the sweeping shores of the Dornoch Firth and overlooking the ancient ‘Clach Biorach’ – a standing stone over 4,000 years old – the Balblair Distillery is one of the oldest working distilleries in Scotland. Its history can be traced as far back as 1790 when it was founded and built by John Ross in Edderton, a small village near Tain. Ross was joined by his son Andrew in 1824. The distillery itself was redesigned, relocated and rebuilt in 1895 by Charles C. Doig in an effort to aid production and distribution by being closer to Edderton Railway Station.

Balblair remained a family business until passing into the hands of Alexander Cowen in 1894. It was under Cowen’s management for more than 50 years until he finally sold the distillery to Robert ‘Bertie’ Cumming. Cumming’s influence and vision became the driving force behind Balblair’s increased production, expansion and popularity. In the 1970s the distillery was sold to Hiram Walker following Cumming’s retirement. It was then sold again in 1996 to Inver House Distillers – Balblair’s owners ever since.

Using six traditional wooden wash backs made of Oregan pine, and housing two unique stills specifically designed to “capture the fruity esters at the start of the distillation” and “the heavier oils at the end that give Balblair its body”, the distillery gets its water from the tiny Allt Dearg burn. They disregard a closer burn in favour of the original source used by John Ross in the 1790s. This untreated, soft water source is an essential ingredient of the Balblair malt.

Boasting a rich historical past and beautiful surroundings it is ultimately a deep passion for the art of whisky making which defines the Balblair Distillery. They are fiercely committed to creating the perfect malt. We leave you with a few of their own words…

“Every year, our Distillery Manager, John MacDonald, tastes, judges and selects straight from the cask. And at exactly the right moment, when the balance between the age and the character of the whisky is just right, we bottle it. Each Vintage represents an exact moment in time. A moment of perfection. It’s the ability to judge that precise point in time that makes Balblair so special. Timing is everything. It’s an art. An alchemy. A way of life.”

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