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Issue 132 - In the Parish of Peats

Whisky Magazine Issue 132
December 2015


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In the Parish of Peats

Experience 'The Time Capsule'at Balblair

Ken Loach's whisky-themed film The Angels' Share, Balblair Distillery will be a familiar sight. The climax of the movie featuring the auction of a cask of Malt Mill single malt was filmed there, and it is not difficult to see why. Balblair is as traditional-looking a Scotch distillery as you could wish for, and set in stunning Highland scenery, some 40 miles north of Inverness and close to the southern shores of the Dornoch Firth, on the outskirts of the remote village of Edderton.

Balblair can lay claim to being one of Scotland's oldest distilleries, and whisky-making may have been practised there as far back as 1749, but its formal history dates from 1790, when John Ross established a distillery at Balblair Farm, about half a mile from the current site.

The distillery was rebuilt in 1872, but the present structure dates from 1894/95, and was the work of Inverness wine merchant Alexander Cowan. He took on the lease of Balblair Distillery from its owners the Balnagowan Estate, and chose a new location for the operation beside the Inverness to Wick railway line in order to facilitate deliveries to and from the site.

Balblair was silent from 1915 until 1947, when Keith solicitor Robert ‘Bertie' Cumming purchased it for £48,000, recommencing distilling the following year. In 1970 Cumming sold Balblair to the Canadian distilling giant Hiram Walker & Sons Ltd, who already owned five Scottish distilleries.

Hiram Walker merged with Allied Vintners to become Allied Disti...

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