Balblair Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky logo.

Balblair Distillery

  • Scotland
Phone Number
  • +441862821273
  • Edderton, Tain IV19 1LB, United Kingdom

Balblair distillery exterior with large still and barrels.

History of Balblair Distillery

Founding and Early Years

  • 1790: Establishment
    Balblair Distillery was founded by John Ross on the estate of the Rosses of Balnagown in the Highlands of Scotland, marking the beginning of its storied history​​.

Development Through the Centuries

  • 1824-1894: The Ross Family Era
    John Ross was later joined by his son, Andrew. The distillery was then managed by successive generations of the Ross family until the end of the 19th century​​.
  • 1894: Alexander Cowan’s Tenure
    James Ross handed over Balblair to Alexander Cowan, a wine merchant from Inverness, who modernised the distillery, adding new facilities including a still house, mash house, kiln, and barns​​​​.
  • 1895: Relocation
    To take advantage of the newly built railway line, which facilitated the transportation of coal and barley, the distillery moved half a mile north to its current location​​.

20th Century Challenges and Achievements

  • 1911-1949: Interruptions and Resumption of Production
    The distillery faced economic challenges leading to a temporary closure in 1911. It was not until 1949, under the ownership of Robert James “Bertie” Cumming, that production resumed​​​​.
  • 1970: Ownership Changes
    Bertie sold Balblair to Hiram Walker, and it subsequently passed through several hands, including Allied Distillers, before being acquired by Inver House Distillers in 1996​​.

Modern Developments

  • 2000s Onwards: Inver House and New Directions
    Under Inver House Distillers, Balblair underwent significant development, including the introduction of vintage releases in 2007 and a range of age-statement expressions in 2019​​. The distillery embraced a unique approach by bottling its whisky in vintages, marking the year of distillation on each bottle​​.

Visitor Centre and Cultural Impact

  • Balblair also gained wider recognition through its appearance in the Ken Loach film “The Angels’ Share,” which led to the opening of a visitor centre in its former malting building, further enhancing its profile among whisky enthusiasts​​.

Present Day

  • Balblair continues to produce its distinguished single malt Scotch whisky, drawing on its rich heritage and the natural resources of the Highlands. Its unique character is a result of the traditional distillation process, the rich history of the site, and the dedication to quality and craftsmanship that has defined the distillery for over two centuries​​.

Balblair’s journey from its foundation by John Ross in 1790 through various ownerships and challenges to its current status under Inver House Distillers illustrates a remarkable resilience and commitment to quality.

The distillery’s innovative approach to releasing vintage bottlings and the recent introduction of age-statement expressions reflect its adaptability and respect for its heritage, ensuring Balblair remains a revered name in the world of Scotch whisky.

Balblair Distillery Tour Information and Experience

Balblair Distillery offers a unique and intimate experience through its range of tours, each designed to provide insights into the art of whisky making at one of the oldest working distilleries in the Northern Highlands. Here is a breakdown of the tours available:

The Classic Tour (£20): This tour offers a journey of discovery into the exceptional process of making Balblair’s single malts. It starts with an introduction to the distillery’s age-old processes, ensuring visitors understand the quality and craftsmanship behind each bottle. Guests have the opportunity to taste Balblair’s 12 and 15 Year Old expressions, making the experience both educational and enjoyable​​​​.

The Signature Tour (£45): A more in-depth exploration of Balblair’s whisky-making process, this tour is led by one of the distillery’s senior guides. It covers each element of production in detail, from malting to maturation. The tour concludes with a tasting of the core range of single malts, including the 12, 15, and 18 Year Old expressions, along with an exclusive Hand Bottling. This tour provides a comprehensive insight into what makes Balblair unique​​​​.

The Definitive Tour (£100): Designed for those who seek a deeper understanding and experience, this tour is an intimate journey limited to small groups. It includes a detailed walkthrough of the whisky-making process, special access to one of the warehouses, and the chance to bottle some of Balblair’s hand-selected malt. The tour culminates with a tasting of four signature expressions, ranging from 12 to 25 years old, offering a complete sensory exploration of Balblair’s finest whiskies​​​​.

Visitor reviews highlight the tours as highly informative, enjoyable, and unique, praising the distillery’s traditional methods and the personal touch provided by knowledgeable guides. The original buildings and the fitting of new equipment within them are especially appreciated, maintaining the charm and heritage of the distillery​

Flask & Barrel Review of Balblair Distillery

I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Balblair Distillery, and I have to say, it was an experience that truly stood out in my journey as a whisky collector. Having toured many distilleries over the years, I’ve developed a keen sense for what makes each one unique, and Balblair did not disappoint.

From the moment I stepped into the distillery, there was a sense of warmth and welcome that felt genuinely special. The original buildings, steeped in history, have been preserved with care, seamlessly integrating any modern equipment without losing the distillery’s traditional charm. This respect for the past, combined with a commitment to the craft, really resonated with me.

The tour itself was a highlight. Led by a guide whose passion and knowledge for whisky making were evident, I found myself immersed in the intricate processes that go into creating Balblair’s distinctive single malts. The hands-on approach and the patience poured into every batch were impressive. It’s clear they’re not just making whisky; they’re crafting legacies in liquid form.

Tasting the whisky was, of course, the icing on the cake. Each expression, from the 12 to the 25-year-old, told its own story of complexity and character, allowing me to experience the distillery’s history and dedication firsthand. The opportunity to taste the wash and wort, and even hand bottle some of their hand-selected malt during The Definitive Tour, was an incredibly personal touch that added depth to the whole experience.

What sets Balblair apart, in my eyes, is not just the quality of their whisky but the genuine pride and care that go into every aspect of their operation. From the meticulous preservation of their heritage to the detailed explanation of their process and the intimate, insightful tasting sessions, every moment at Balblair felt both educational and deeply personal.

What To Do Nearby Balblair Distillery

Dornoch Beach: Beautiful, sandy beach perfect for walks, around 10 miles north of the distillery. Great for a peaceful day out by the sea.

Glenmorangie Distillery: Another renowned whisky distillery offering tours and tastings, located about 9 miles south of Balblair.

Royal Dornoch Golf Club: One of the top-ranked golf courses in the world, approximately 10 miles north. Ideal for golf enthusiasts.

Tain Through Time: A museum and visitor center that explores the rich history of Tain, around 5 miles south.

Dunrobin Castle: A historic home with beautiful gardens and falconry demonstrations, about 20 miles north of the distillery.

Frequently Asked Questions

What restaurants are near Balblair Distillery?

The Garden Restaurant at Morangie House Hotel: The Garden Restaurant at Morangie House Hotel boasts an impressive 5.0-star rating on Google Maps, reflecting its exceptional dining experience. Those interested in dining at this esteemed restaurant can make reservations by calling +44 1862 892281. It is conveniently located at Morangie Rd, Tain IV19 1PY, United Kingdom, making it a must-visit for anyone in the area seeking a top-rated dining experience.

Luigi: Luigi, another highly regarded restaurant, has earned a 4.7-star rating on Google Maps, indicating a high level of customer satisfaction with its offerings. Reservations can be made by contacting them at +44 1862 810893. The restaurant is situated at 1 Castle St, Dornoch IV25 3SN, United Kingdom, offering patrons a delightful dining experience in a charming location.

Surf and Turf : Surf and Turf has a rating of 4.8 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +44 1862 811181. Their address is 8 Castle St, Dornoch IV25 3SR, United Kingdom.

What hotels are near Balblair Distillery?

Tulloch Castle Hotel: It has a rating of 4.2 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +44 1349 861325. Their address is Tulloch Castle Drive, Dingwall Ross-Shire, Scotland IV15 9ND, United Kingdom.

The Eagle Hotel: It has a rating of 4.3 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +44 1862 810008. Their address is Castle St, Dornoch IV25 3SR, United Kingdom.

Morangie Hotel Tain: It has a rating of 4.0 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +44 1862 892281. Their address is Morangie Rd, Tain IV19 1PY, United Kingdom.