New Scotch Distilleries to Watch – Part 3!

It seems that every other week a new distillery is planned, granted permission or has been built up and down Scotland. In fact, from 2010 to 2015 the HMRC granted over 150 distilling licenses! Admittedly most of these licenses have been granted to companies planning to produce vodka and gin, however, there at least 40 of these distilleries that plan to produce our beloved single malt scotch. How can you keep with all these developments, how can you keep up to date with the all this new whisky? Fortunately, we are doing that for you – and in alphabetical order! 


Daftmill Distillery

Located in the Howe of Fife, Daftmill is one of Scotland’s smallest malt whisky distilleries with a production of 20,000 litres a year! In 2003, brother Francis and Ian Cuthbert applied for planning permission to turn the old mill buildings, dating back to the Napoleonic war, into a distillery. The Cuthbert brothers ensured that the project was an entirely local affair and – apart from the stills – the work on the distillery was carried out by people in a five mile radius of the farm. On St Andrew’s Day, 2005, permission to distill was granted by HMRC and Daftmill’s first new make spirit was produced on the 16th December of the same year. The Cuthbert family have been farming the lands around Daftmill for six generations but in 1984 they purchased the Pitlair Estate – including Daftmill – from their landlord Sir William Walker. It is possible that the Cuthbert family are only the third family to own this land in 1000 years! Don’t be worried about the ‘daft’ in Daftmill, because of local landscape it appears that the nearby stream runs uphill and locals have taken to calling the backward-running burn the ‘Daft’ Burn. The former mill was powered by the burn and was subsequently named Daft Mill and that is where the name comes from. Daftmill distillery will be using barley grown at Daftmill farm and water drawn from the distilleries own artisanal well. Daftmill aims to support its local environment. The draff is used to feed cattle, effluent produced by the distillery is used as fertiliser and to ensure that the farm’s duck pond doesn’t freeze hot water is pumped into it during winter.


Dalmunach Distillery

Dalmunach, named after a nearby pool on the River Spey, is one of the most contemporary Scotch distilleries as well as being Chivas Brothers’ 14th Scottish distillery. Dalmunach was built in 2014 on former site of the Imperial Distillery. The Imperial Distillery was founded by Thomas Mackenzie, who co-owned Talisker and Daluaine, in 1897 and opened the following year. Producing Single Malt, almost all of Imperial’s production went into blends, including Ballatine’s, Old Smuggler and Teacher’s. Over it’s 100 year history, Imperial changed hands several times and experienced several periods of inactivity. Imperial came into the hands of Pernod Ricard (owners of Chivas Brothers) following their acquisition of Allied Domecq in 2005. Unfortunately, the distillery was completely inactive having been closed in 1998 after several years of being mothballed. Following the whisky boom in 2013, Chivas required a new distillery to capable of supplying their Chivas Regal, Ballantine’s and Royal Salute blends. A refurbishment of the Imperial Distilley would’ve been a large and expensive project and the decision was made to demolish the site and build a new ‘super’ distillery in its place. 

The project was overseen by Douglas Cruickshank, who stepped back from his role as Production Director at Chivas Brothers. Cruickshank’s overseeing of the project is a fitting end to his career in the whisky industry – which began when he was 15 working in the the Imperial distillery! Chivas has paid to homage to the former distillery. Dalmunach’s stills are replications of the Imperial’s stills, reclaimed red brick from Imperial has been used to create a feature wall in the new entrance and the wood from the original washbacks have been used to make an ‘entrance drum’ and adorn the gable wall of the new tun room that now contains the distilleries washbacks. Dalmunach is the perfect ending to Cruickshank’s career as well as preserving the Imperial’s place in history. However, whilst Dalmunach has many memorials to the past it does not mean that Dalmunach hasn’t received the latest tech! Chivas has used heat recovery technology, 16 stainless steel washbacks and has place its eight stills in a circle for a unique aesthetic. The project cost Chivas £25 million resulting in a production of 10m litres a year. Production began in 2014 and whilst it is being produced to supplement their blends maybe one day we will see a Dalmunach single malt.

Dornoch Distillery

Dornoch Distillery

The Dornoch Distillery was founded by the owners of the Dornoch Castle Hotel, brothers Phil and Simon Thompson. Both Simon and Phil have hand on experience in whisky production from working with Balblair Distillery and the Strathearn Distillery. Fortunately for Dornoch, they do not need to construct an entirely new facility. Instead, they are cramming a lot of equipment into a very small building – including, a pair of direct gas fired pot stills – one 1000 litres and the other 600 litres – and a 2000 litre column still. Alongside filling barrels with new make spirit, they will be experimenting with white spirits with an initial focus on gin. Unfortunately, Dornoch have recently experienced delays with the delivery of their column stills from the Netherlands. However, it seems that this delay has recently been resolved! We can expect the first Dornoch single malt whisky to be a five year old – but be wary, it will be in limited supply!

Drimnin Distillery

Drimnin Distillery

Located on the Morvern peninsula in West highlands, overlooking sound of Mull across from Tobermory, Drimin is the work of Organic Distilleries. Organic Distilleries is a part of Organic Architects, the company who helped create Adelphi’s Ardnamurchan Distillery. Drimin announced that plans were well under way earlier this year and that the distillery will be located in the historic farm buildings across from the Drimnin house and will make use of renewable energy from woodchip in surrounding forest. Drimnin received a grant from the Scottish government of £513,322 in January this year which will be put to use replacing the farms steading roof, the conversion of the greenhouse for visitors, building the distillery warehouse and the installation of distillery equipment. In their March newsletter, Drimnin revealed that they hoped to have construction complete and for production to begin in a year but work has already begun with the cooling pond being complete and the harvest of the local lodgepole pine to provide fuel. Recently, the distillery has even advertised jobs! Whilst we wait, the Drimnin estate has plenty more to offer with cottages and walks through picturesque Highland coast and countryside. 

Eden Mill St Andrew Brewery & Distillery

Scotland’s first combined brewery and distillery! Originally, Eden Mill opened in 2012 and was solely producing beer and it wasn’t until 2014 that production of whisky and gin began and name was changed from Eden Brewery to Eden Mill. The company was founded by Paul Miller, a former sales director for Molson Coors – but the site itself has been home to a distillery before! In 1810, the Haig family built the Seggie Distillery on the same site. In 1860, the Haigs decided that the distillery would be of better use as a paper mill – business was booming with the Cameronbrigde grain distillery – and so after fifty years, the Seggie distillery was converted to a paper mill. The mill continued to operate for 148 years until it went into administration in 2008. The land was bought by the University of St Andrews, who planned to use the land for a biomass facility. It was four years later that Paul stepped in and further two until spirits flowed from the site again. 

Eden Mill has a purposely small production of whisky, making just eight barrels a week! Unlike other distillers, Eden Mill uses three different malts: pale malt, chocolate malt and crystal malt. Whilst others claim barley varieties make little impact on whisky, Eden Mill disagrees! You’ll just have to taste all three of their one and two year old new make spirits to find out or, if you can wait, next year they release their single malts. If the new make spirit isn’t enough, Eden Mill currently produce and sell eleven different beers and a range of five gins.

< Part 2                                                                                                                                         Part 4 >

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