Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis Distillery

  • Scotland
Phone Number
  • +441397700200
  • Lochy Bridge, Fort William PH33 6TJ, United Kingdom

Ben Nevis Distillery with casks and mountain background.

History of Ben Nevis Distillery

Founding and Expansion

The distillery’s inception by Long John McDonald marked the beginning of a legacy that would grow through strategic marketing and quality production. McDonald was known for his marketing prowess, notably rescuing the Duchess of Buccleuch in 1838, which garnered significant media attention and bolstered the distillery’s reputation. The whisky’s quality and royal patronage led to its widespread acclaim, with Long John’s Ben Nevis Whisky being advertised as patronized by the Royal Family and Scottish nobility. Despite Long John’s bankruptcy in the 1850s, the distillery was passed to his son, Donald Peter MacDonald, who expanded production significantly.

Challenges and Resilience

The late 19th and early 20th centuries brought challenges, particularly with the rise of blended whiskies. The Nevis distillery, built by Donald to meet demand, closed in 1908. The original Ben Nevis distillery continued operations intermittently until Canadian entrepreneur Joseph Hobbs purchased it in 1941. Hobbs, known for his whisky smuggling during US Prohibition, restarted production in 1955 and introduced innovative distillation practices.

Modern Era

In the 1980s, the distillery underwent refurbishment and changed ownership several times, eventually being acquired by Nikka Whisky Distilling Company in 1989, marking a new chapter in its history. Under Nikka’s ownership, Ben Nevis has focused on both supplying bulk whisky for Japanese blends and producing its distinguished single malt and blended Scotch whiskies.

Today, Ben Nevis Distillery is recognized for its traditional distillation methods, including the use of brewer’s yeast and wooden washbacks, which contribute to the rich and deep character of its whisky. The distillery’s current range includes the core Ben Nevis 10-Year-Old single malt, alongside other expressions that celebrate the distillery’s heritage and craft.

Ben Nevis Distillery Tour Information and Experience

The Ben Nevis Distillery, established in 1825 and located in Fort William, Scotland, offers a unique tour experience for those interested in the traditional craft of Scottish whisky distilling. Nestled at the foot of Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, the distillery provides a picturesque backdrop to its tours, where visitors can immerse themselves in the rich history and process of whisky making.

The distillery is one of Scotland’s oldest licensed distilleries and invites visitors to explore the secrets of whisky distilling through their guided tours. These tours not only allow visitors to meet Hector McDram, a symbolic figure of the distillery’s heritage, but also to visit the distillery’s whisky shop and restaurant. Guests are encouraged to sample the ‘Uisge beatha’ or ‘water of life,’ experiencing the unique flavours and aromas of their whiskies​​.

Advance booking for tours is essential to ensure a spot, as the distillery emphasizes the importance of planning ahead. The tours typically last between 1-2 hours, giving visitors a comprehensive insight into the distilling process, from mashing and fermentation to distillation and maturation. Note that children under 5 are not permitted on the tour, and only guide dogs are allowed in the Visitor Centre and on the tour due to specific restrictions.

The distillery also adheres to Scottish licensing laws, with their bar and shop opening at 10 am. The last entry for tours is 15 minutes before closing time, ensuring all guests have adequate time to enjoy their visit​​.

In addition to the guided tours, the Ben Nevis Distillery has a café and a well-stocked shop where visitors can purchase their distinct Highland malt whiskies and other merchandise. The distillery is proud of its contribution to the local culture and economy, being one of Fort William’s oldest established businesses. Their range of single and blended malt whiskies under the name Ben Nevis is produced using the soft, sweet waters straight from the mountain, offering a distinct taste and quality​​.

For more detailed information, including how to book a tour and specific offerings, visitors are encouraged to reach out directly to the distillery via their official website or contact details. This ensures the most current information and allows for any questions or special requests to be addressed promptly.

Flask & Barrel Review of Ben Nevis Distillery

Being a whisky collector, I’ve seen my fair share of distillery tours, but this one? It’s up there with the best, easily a 4.7 out of 5 in my books.

Let’s start with the setting – right at the foot of Britain’s tallest mountain. The view alone is worth the trip. And then there’s the distillery itself, steeped in history since 1825. Walking into Ben Nevis Distillery feels like stepping back in time, but in the best possible way.

The tour was top-notch. They’ve got this whole process down to an art, from mashing to fermentation, distillation, and maturation. And the guide? Super knowledgeable and friendly, made the whole thing engaging from start to finish. Learned a few new things, even after all the tours I’ve been on.

Now, the tasting – highlight of the visit, no doubt. Their whiskies have this unique character, probably thanks to the pure mountain water. Tried a few different drams, each with its own story. And yes, I might’ve added a bottle (or two) to my collection.

The only reason I’m not going full 5/5? Well, wish there was a bit more time to linger in the tasting room. But honestly, that’s me nitpicking. The whole experience was well-organized, informative, and just plain enjoyable.

What To Do Nearby Ben Nevis Distillery

Steall Waterfall (approximately 2.8 miles from Ben Nevis Distillery): A scenic walk to Steall Waterfall is a must-do, taking you through beautiful landscapes with a trail that’s accessible and rewarding. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in the natural beauty surrounding Fort William​​.

Neptune’s Staircase (distance not specified but close to Fort William): This engineering marvel consists of eight locks on the Caledonian Canal, offering a unique look at Scotland’s canal history and a picturesque setting for a leisurely walk​​.

Old Boat of Caol (Caol shipwreck) (distance not specified but close to Fort William): Visit the Old Boat of Caol shipwreck near Corpach for a spectacular photography spot, where you can capture the stunning contrast of a storm-damaged vessel against the backdrop of mountains and possibly Ben Nevis itself​​.

Corpach Marina: For those interested in seeing the Jacobite Steam Train (also known as the Hogwarts Express), Corpach Marina provides a fantastic vantage point. The train passes by the marina twice daily, offering an excellent opportunity for photography enthusiasts​​.

Caledonian Canal: A walk or cycle along the Caledonian Canal towpath offers serene views and a peaceful experience. The canal stretches 60 miles, with the section linking Neptune’s Staircase to Corpach Marina being particularly recommended​​.

Jacobite Steam Train: A ride on the Jacobite Steam Train offers stunning views of the Scottish Highlands, including the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct seen in the Harry Potter films. It’s a magical journey that transports you through some of the most breathtaking landscapes Scotland has to offer​​.

West Highland Museum: Dive into the local history and culture at the West Highland Museum, where you can learn about the region’s past, including its Jacobite and Victoriana history. It’s an engaging and educational stop for anyone interested in Scottish heritage​​.

Frequently Asked Questions

What restaurants are near Ben Nevis Distillery?

The Stables Restaurant & Grill, Fort William: It has a rating of 4.3 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +44 1397 700730. Their address is Dudley Rd, Fort William PH33 6JB, United Kingdom.

The Tavern Restaurant: It has a rating of 4.2 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +44 1397 703600. Their address is 72 High St, Fort William PH33 6AD, United Kingdom.

The Crofter Bar and Restaurant: It has a rating of 4.4 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +44 1397 704899. Their address is 11 High St, Fort William PH33 6DH, United Kingdom.

What hotels are near Ben Nevis Distillery?

Inverlochy Castle Hotel: It has a rating of 4.7 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +44 1397 702177. Their address is Torlundy, Fort William PH33 6SN, United Kingdom.

Highland Hotel: It has a rating of 4.6 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +44 1397 707500. Their address is Union Rd, Fort William PH33 6QY, United Kingdom.

Premier Inn Fort William Hotel: It has a rating of 4.0 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +44 333 777 7268. Their address is An Aird, Loch Iall, Fort William PH33 6AN, United Kingdom.