Independent Whisky distilleries in Scotland

Sylvia Simm | 23. February 2024

There are more than 130 distilleries in Scotland. Most of them are owned by globally operating groups. For example, the largest spirits group alone owns 40 distilleries in Scotland.

Which distilleries are still considered independent?

The distilleries are listed alphabetically and we have listed newly founded distilleries from 2000 onwards separately:

Table of content

Currently independent distilleries

The distillery only came into being in 1995 and named itself after the Isle of Arran on which it is located. After a second distillery opened on the Isle of Arran in 2019 - it is the Lagg distillery ( see below) - the Arran distillery renamed itself to better distinguish itself and is now called Lochranza.

Originally founded in 1898, Benromach has had a chequered history. It has had to open and close several times. It was finally bought by the independent bottler G&M in 1993 and has been in operation again since 1998.

The Bladnoch distillery in the Lowlands was initially part of the Diageo group. In 1995 it was bought privately by the Armstrong brothers and eventually, after initially different plans, whisky production began. In 2009, it was shut down, only to be bought and reopened by Australian entrepreneur David Prior in 2015. Whisky has been available again since 2000.

The distillery was closed down and restarted in 2005! It is a farm distillery in the Lowlands, newly built and owned by two brothers.

The most 'famous' independent distillery was formerly part of Pernod Ricard. It is a small distillery in the Scottish Highlands. In 2002 it was bought by the independent bottler Signatory Vintage. It is a little gem.

It is the most important privately owned distillery and was built in 1886 and bought by the Grant family in 1865. Since then it has been distilling 6th generation malt whisky and still has wonderful old casks.

Glengoyne

The history of Glenyone takes an interesting path. Initially founded by George Connell, the distillery was bought by the Lang brothers in 1876 and renamed Glengoyne in 1905. It went to the Edrington Group in the 1960s and found its way back to the independent bottler Ian MacLeod Distillers Limited in 2003. 

Rosebank

In 2017, independent bottler Ian MacLeod revitalised the renowned Rosebank distillery. The aim is to rebuild the distillery and produce whisky.

The distillery has a long history. Its origins date back to 1956 with the purchase of the land, and construction began in 1965. However, it was not until 1990 that the first distillation took place and in 1993 the first whisky was released under the name Drumguish, which was then renamed Speyside at the turn of the millennium. The private investment group Speyside Distillery Company took over in 2000, and in 2012 the distillery went to the family-owned Harvey's of Edinburgh and the name was changed again, to Spey.

The distillery not only distils whisky, but also malts and bottles it itself. Due to economic bottlenecks, production has been at a standstill from time to time. When the distillery was reopened in 1989, the Springbank Distillery Company Limited was founded, which is still run by the Mitchell family today. In addition, the old distillery next to it, the Glengyle Distillery, was reopened in 2000. Whisky is not allowed to be called that because there is already a blend Glengyle, of which the rights are not free. Thus, Mitchell's Glengyle Distillery opened in 2004, launching the whisky with the name Kilkerran!

Tamdhu

Originally founded in 1896 by the Tamdhu Distillery Company, several closures and reopenings followed. In 1999, the Edrington Group bought it and sold it to the independent bottler Ian MacLeod in 2011. On 4 May 2013, the time had finally come: the first Whisky since the reopening under Ian MacLeaod was sold.

 

Interesting to know!

We would like to mention three distilleries that started out as independent distilleries and maintained their independence for many years, but were eventually absorbed into larger groups:

Bruichladdich

The distillery was founded in 1881 by the Harvey family. From 1936, it changed hands frequently and was also closed for a time. In 2000, it was sold to the independent bottler Murray McDavid and in 2012 the distillery became the property of the Rémy Cointreau group. It was sold for an impressive price.

Tullibardine

Tullibardine has been producing since 1949. The distillery was sold on several times, for example in 1953 and 1971, when Invergordon Distillers made the Tullibardine brand famous. In 1993, the distillery was taken over by Whyte & Mackay, only to be closed shortly afterwards. In 2003, four private individuals bought the distillery. However, it eventually became the property of the French wine and spirits group Picard Vins & Spiritueux in 2011.

Start-ups as of the year 2000

The distillery was founded in 2005. At that time it was the first newly founded distillery on Islay in 124 years.

The very young distillery was founded in 2007 when David Thomson and Teresa Church bought the old dilapidated building of the former Annandale Distillery on the English border in the north-west of Scotland. Distillation began in 2011.

The Abhainn Dearg distillery on the Isle of Lewis was built in 2008 by private citizen Mark Tayburn. The first whisky was bottled as early as 2010.

On the Isle of Arran, a new distillery called Lagg was built as the second distillery next to Arran. It started producing whisky in 2017. To better distinguish the two distilleries on the island in the future, Arran renamed itself and is now called Lochranza.

In 1913, the McKenzie Smith family bought Lindores Abbey and in 2017 a McKenzie Smith descendant opened what is now Lindores Abbey Distillery. It is now run by a company whose mission is to ensure that ancient crafts such as brewing, distilling, horticulture and beekeeping are practised at the old abbey, which was built in 1191.

In 2018, the Ardnahoe distillery was relaunched on the island of Islay. Owned by independent bottler Hunter Laing & Co, Stewart Laing, who gained his first experience at Bruichladdich at a young age, fulfilled a dream with the distillery. We are already looking forward to the first bottlings!

Conclusion

For us consumers, it sounds like an idyll when a distillery is still privately run. We have the idea that production processes are carried out by hand and that in the end we hold a tasteful gem in our hands!

However, with any start-up, one has to bear in mind that there is a long dry spell of three years of build-up and minimum maturing time to get through. It is therefore understandable that whisky distilleries pass into the hands of corporations.

Did you like the article? Then please give us a thumbs up?

This record has been liked 20 times.

To comment, you must be logged in

Comments (0)