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Strathisla Distillery
Picture: Strathisla
Click to see large map in separate window   Location: Keith, Banffshire AB55 3BS
Roads: Seafield Avenue, sign-posted off the A95
Hours: Hours: 9.30am - 4pm, Mon - Sat Sun 12.30 - 4.00pm Group bookings, max 50; starting times as required
Reception centre and shop. Admission charges
Phone: 01542-783044

This is not only possibly the oldest distillery in Scotland; it is also a candidate for the cutest little distillery in the world. It sits there like a Hansel-and-Gretel cottage with enormous twin pagoda heads over low walls, a waterwheel and a bumpy little lawn and you cannot help smiling at its outrageous appeal.

When the distillery was built Robert Burns was becoming famous and fashionable with the publication of his Poems Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, Goethe began his Italian journey and Mozartís Marriage of Figaro was performed for the first time.

Strathisla began in 1786 as Milltown distillery and had a succession of licensees until 1830 when William Longmore began 38 years of ownership. He had to rebuild substantially after a fire in 1876 and it was then that the distillery took on the appearance that we see today. It was also in the 1870s that the name was first changed to Strathisla. Much later, George Pomeroy, a London financier who owned the distillery until 1949, was jailed for tax evasion and the following year Seagram bought it through its subsidiary, Chivas Brothers.

The water with which Strathisla is made is drawn from the Fons Buliens, a spring that was documented by Dominican monks who lived nearby in the 12th century. There are two pairs of steam heated stills.

The Whisky

Picture: Spirit Safe at Strathisla
The spirit safe at Strathisla proudly announces when the distillery was established.
Strathisla begins placidly but fills out to quite mouth-filling proportions. Very fruity, sweet and herby with fine succulent zest and creamy, peaty intensity. The official issue is 12 years old at 43% vol. but independents offer a wide choice of 8- to 25-year-old and about a dozen vintages going back to 1948. It is the predominant malt at the heart of Chivas Regal and also graces a number of Seagramís other blends, including 100 Pipers

Source of water
Fons Bulliens Well
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Text Copyright © Gordon Brown 1993
Used by UISGE! with permission by the publisher and the copyright owner.