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Issue 17 - A very regal distillery (Strathisla)

Whisky Magazine Issue 17
July 2001

 

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A very regal distillery (Strathisla)

David Stirk visits Strathisla Distillery, the home of Chivas Regal and a fine single malt. Additional words by Martin Betts

You wouldn't be far off the mark describing Strathisla as the Queen Mother of distilleries. Old, dignified and surviving its advanced years with a certain amount of style, the distillery is also a key member of a very regal royal family.

Only a very small amount of the malt that Strathisla produces is available as a single malt because the majority of their spirit strengthens the heart of the Chivas family. One of the best-loved blends in the world, Chivas Regal has relied on the help of Strathisla's deliciously oaky whisky to create its blend since Chivas Brothers bought the distillery for £71,000 on the 14th April 1950.

However, this association of over half a century may well now be thrown into a state of flux with the imminent arrival of Pernod Ricard – they have bought Chivas Brothers as part of their recent deal with Seagram. Campbell Distillers, the distilling subsidiary of Pernod Ricard, have an excellent history of promoting their single malts: it remains to be seen whether Strathisla will retain its place in the Chivas Regal family.

The distillery is one of the oldest in Scotland (only Glenturret, Littlemill and Bowmore are older) and is generally accepted as the oldest distillery in the Highlands. George Taylor and Alexander Milne founded the distillery in 1786 under the guise of the Milton Distillery in Keith, a small Scottish town that was well renowned for its linen mills. On site was a rather convenient water source, the Fons Bulliens Well, which is stil...

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