Strathisla Distillery logo, Home of Chivas, established 1786.

Strathisla Distillery

  • Scotland
  • Historic Recognition at Edinburgh International (1886), Acclaim for Strathisla 12 Year Old Whisky, High Scores for Gordon & MacPhail Bottlings
Phone Number
  • +441542783044
  • Seafield Ave, Keith AB55 5BS, United Kingdom

Illuminated historic distillery building at dusk.

History of Strathisla Distillery


Strathisla Distillery, located in the Speyside region of Scotland, is renowned for its rich history and significant contribution to the world of Scotch whisky. This historical overview delves into the distillery’s origins, development, and current status.

Establishment and Founding (1786)

Strathisla Distillery, originally known as Milltown Distillery, was founded in 1786 by George Taylor and Alexander Milne. It is one of the oldest continuously operating distilleries in Scotland. The early years were marked by modest operations, primarily focused on producing malt whisky using traditional methods.

Early Challenges and Changes (19th Century)

Throughout the 19th century, the distillery faced various challenges, including ownership changes and financial difficulties. Despite these hurdles, Strathisla continued to produce whisky, gradually gaining a reputation for its high-quality spirits.

Expansion and Modernization (Early 20th Century)

In the early 20th century, the distillery underwent significant expansions and modernization efforts. These updates were crucial in increasing production capacity and improving the overall quality of the whisky.

Post-War Era and Acquisition (1940s to 1960s)

After World War II, Strathisla faced a critical period but managed to emerge successfully. In the 1950s, it was acquired by Chivas Brothers, a move that marked a new chapter in its history. Under Chivas Brothers, Strathisla became the spiritual home for the Chivas Regal blend, one of the world’s best-selling Scotch whiskies.

Recent Developments and Current Operations (21st Century)

Today, Strathisla Distillery continues to thrive, combining traditional techniques with modern technology. It plays a pivotal role in the production of Chivas Regal, while also producing its own single malts. The distillery has become a popular tourist destination, offering visitors a glimpse into the art of whisky making.

Environmental Initiatives and Sustainability (Current Focus)

In recent years, Strathisla has focused on sustainability and environmental initiatives. This includes reducing carbon emissions, managing waste effectively, and sourcing local ingredients to minimize environmental impact.

Strathisla Distillery’s journey from its humble beginnings in 1786 to its current status as a cornerstone of Scotch whisky production is a testament to its resilience, adaptability, and commitment to quality. Its rich history, combined with a forward-looking approach, continues to define its legacy in the world of whisky.

Awards Won by Strathisla Distillery

  1. Historic Recognition at Edinburgh International (1886):
    • Strathisla Distillery received an Honourable Mention for its Old Highland Malt Whisky, highlighting its early commitment to quality whisky production.
  2. Acclaim for Strathisla 12 Year Old Whisky:
    • Renowned for its rich, creamy texture with a blend of wood oils, resins, winter spice, and cereal sweetness.
    • Features a palate that includes notes of cream, honeyed raisins, sultanas, and mixed peels, leading to an oak-infused finish.
  3. High Scores for Gordon & MacPhail Bottlings:
    • A 42-year-old Strathisla (1967/2009) scored 91 points, appreciated for its sherry profile and balance of wood, fruits, and spices.
    • A 50-year-old Strathisla (1957/2007) earned 89 points, noted for its rich woodiness balanced with fruit and spices.
  4. Strathisla’s Independent Bottlings:
    • Bottlings by independent bottlers like Duncan Taylor and Douglas Laing further emphasize Strathisla’s appeal among whisky enthusiasts.
  5. Customer Appreciation and Reviews:
    • Strathisla whiskies have received glowing reviews from customers, highlighting their depth of flavor, smoothness, and distinctive oakiness without harshness.

Strathisla Distillery Tour Information and Experience

Strathisla Distillery, with its deep-rooted history and traditional charm, offers a unique and immersive tour experience for visitors. The tours are designed to provide an in-depth look into the art of whisky making and the rich heritage of one of Scotland’s oldest operating distilleries.

Upon arrival, visitors are greeted with the picturesque view of the Strathisla Distillery, known for its distinctive architecture and beautiful surroundings. The distillery’s setting in the Speyside region’s heart adds to the experience’s allure.

Range of Tours Offered

Strathisla offers various tour options to cater to different interests and preferences:

Standard Tour

  • Duration: Approximately 1 hour
  • Features: This tour typically includes a guided walk through the distillery, covering the whisky production process from mashing and fermentation to distillation and aging.
  • Tasting Session: Concludes with a tasting of select Strathisla whiskies, giving visitors a chance to savor the distinct flavors.

Connoisseur Tour

  • Duration: Extended duration compared to the standard tour
  • Features: Offers a more detailed exploration of the distillery, often including areas not covered in the standard tour.
  • Tasting Session: Includes a premium tasting experience, featuring rare and aged whiskies from Strathisla’s collection.

Custom and Private Tours

  • Customization: Tailored to the specific interests of the group, these tours offer a more personalized experience.
  • Advanced Booking: Generally requires prior arrangement and may accommodate special requests.

Visitor Center and Amenities

  • Exhibits: The visitor center showcases the history of Strathisla and the Chivas Brothers brand.
  • Shop: A gift shop where visitors can purchase Strathisla whiskies, including exclusive bottlings, and branded merchandise.
  • Facilities: Comfortable amenities, including rest areas and refreshment options.

Educational Aspect

The tours are educational, offering insights into the craftsmanship of whisky making, the history of Strathisla, and the importance of the Speyside region in the Scotch whisky industry.

Interactive Experiences

Some tours may include interactive experiences, such as nosing and tasting sessions, blending workshops, or the opportunity to draw whisky straight from a cask.

Sustainable Practices

Visitors also learn about Strathisla’s commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility in their operations.

Booking and Visit Information

  • Advance Booking: Recommended to ensure availability, especially for specialized tours.
  • Accessibility: Information about accessibility for visitors with disabilities is available, ensuring an inclusive experience.
  • Age Restriction: Usually, there are age restrictions for tasting sessions in compliance with legal drinking age laws.

A visit to Strathisla Distillery is more than just a tour; it’s an opportunity to immerse oneself in the world of Scotch whisky, experiencing the blend of tradition and innovation that defines Strathisla’s enduring legacy. Whether a whisky enthusiast or a curious traveler, the Strathisla Distillery tour offers a memorable and enriching experience.

Flask & Barrel Review of Strathisla Distillery

As a seasoned whisky collector who’s seen more than my fair share of distilleries, I’ve got to say, my recent visit to Strathisla Distillery was a real treat. I’m giving it a solid 4.7 out of 5, and here’s why.

First off, the setting of Strathisla is straight out of a postcard. Nestled in the heart of Speyside, the distillery’s old-world charm hits you the moment you step in. It’s like taking a step back in time, and for a whisky nerd like me, that’s a big plus.

The tour itself? Top-notch. Our guide was not just knowledgeable but also had a way of making the complex whisky-making process sound super simple. I mean, I’ve been on loads of these tours, but I still picked up some interesting tidbits about Strathisla’s unique approach. The mash, the fermentation, the aging – every step was explained in a way that was both engaging and easy to grasp.

Now, let’s talk whisky tasting – the highlight, right? Strathisla’s range didn’t disappoint. Their signature flavors were bold, complex, and everything I appreciate in a good Scotch. The only reason I’m not going full 5 stars? I felt the tasting session was a bit rushed. I’d have loved to savor each sip a bit more, especially with such high-quality drams.

The visitor center and the little gift shop were neat additions too. I snagged a couple of exclusive bottles for my collection, and that’s saying something because my bar at home is pretty crowded already!

One thing that stood out to me was how Strathisla’s blending tradition and history were woven into the entire experience. It’s not just about sipping whisky; it’s about understanding the heritage behind it. For a collector like me, that deeper connection makes all the difference.

The verdict? If you’re into whisky, Strathisla Distillery is a must-visit. It’s got history, charm, and some seriously good Scotch. Sure, the tasting could have been a tad more leisurely, but overall, it’s an experience that’s hard to fault. A solid 4.7 out of 5 from this whisky enthusiast!

What To Do Nearby Strathisla Distillery

Glenfiddich Distillery Visitor Centre (14.66 km): Offers a unique insight into the world of whisky making. Ideal for spending 2-3 hours exploring the process and history of this renowned distillery.

Speyside Falconry (8.96 km): Experience the thrill of falconry in the beautiful Speyside region. A great opportunity for bird lovers and photographers alike.

The Whisky Line – Keith & Dufftown Railway (14.74 km): A historic railway offering scenic journeys between Keith and Dufftown, perfect for experiencing the stunning local countryside.

Balvenie Castle (14.57 km): Explore this ancient castle’s ruins, steeped in history and surrounded by picturesque landscapes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What restaurants are near Strathisla Distillery?

Bengal Spice: This Indian restaurant in Keith has earned a strong reputation, reflected in its rating. It’s about 0.5 miles from Strathisla Distillery. You can contact them at +441542888072 and their address is 94 Mid St, Keith AB55 5AE, United Kingdom.

Square Roots: Located 0.6 miles from the distillery, this café offers British and Scottish cuisine. It’s the third-ranked restaurant in Keith and is known for its quality. You can contact them at +441542488540 and their address is Mid St, Keith AB55 5AF, United Kingdom.

Spey Inn: Situated 9.6 miles from Strathisla, this restaurant in Craigellachie specializes in bar, British, and Scottish dishes. It’s highly rated and known for its atmosphere and quality food. You can contact them at +441340881204 and their address is Victoria St, Craigellachie, Aberlour AB38 9SR, United Kingdom.

What hotels are near Strathisla Distillery?

Laichmoray Hotel: Located in Elgin, about 14.8 miles from Strathisla Distillery, Laichmoray Hotel has received positive reviews for its cleanliness, surroundings, service, and food. It’s a great option if you’re looking for a comfortable stay with good dining options. You can contact them at +441343540045 and their address is Maisondieu Rd, Elgin IV30 1QR, United Kingdom.

Cullen Bay Hotel: Situated near Buckie, approximately 10.9 miles from the distillery, Cullen Bay Hotel is known for its scenic views overlooking Cullen Bay. The hotel has been modernized and offers a cozy stay with a quirky golf course nearby. You can contact them at +441542840432, and their address is Cullen AB56 4XA, United Kingdom.

Castle Hotel Huntly: Located 8.8 miles from Strathisla Distillery, Castle Hotel Huntly is appreciated for its excellent dining experience and hospitality. The hotel provides a luxurious setting for special occasions and a pleasant stay. You can contact them at +441466792696 and their address is Marquis Dr, Huntly AB54 4SH, United Kingdom.