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Issue 47 - Scotland's own Marie Celeste (Dallas Dhu)

Whisky Magazine Issue 47
April 2005


This article is 13 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Scotland's own Marie Celeste (Dallas Dhu)

Dallas Dhu is a distillery musuem. But does it have any soul left? The Mystery Visitor went to the eerily deserted site

Dallas Dhu styles itself a ‘historic distillery' – quite fittingly, as it is in the charge of Historic Scotland.

Better known for its castles and heritage sites this government agency seems an unlikely custodian of the cratur.

But there is a logic to all this. As the excellent guide book explains, “Whisky is Scotland's national drink. It has evolved out of our landscape and history… While the march of change has transformed many distilleries, and closed others, Dallas Dhu remains – a perfectly preserved time capsule.”

From all this you will gather that Dallas Dhu is silent. In fact, it last distilled in March 1983 after which it was closed. Its owners, UDV (now Diageo), transferred it to Historic Scotland who have operated it as a visitor attraction and museum since 1988.

So now it stands, cold and empty, looking slightly forlorn in the grey light of a dull Scottish day. Located just outside Forres, on the edge of a drab housing estate, Dallas Dhu presents an enigmatic face to the visitor. Its purpose lost, it seems forever questioning its new role.

On the one hand, there is nothing sadder than a silent distillery that you sense will never re-open. Mothballed machinery lies idle, a deep cold pervades the still room and water-filled casks make believe they are maturing in the dunnage warehouses.

The angels have long departed. It's all unbearably poignant. One longs for the confidence and energy of the Victorian entrepreneurs who built this little place.


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