Dalwhinnie

The Dalwhinnie distillery sits at the heart of the majestic Cairngorms National Park in the Scottish Highlands. It is one of the highest whisky producing distilleries in Scotland. Read more about it below.↓

Information about the Distillery
33 Bottles
Scotland, Highlands
-4.238062 56.940128
Active
Diageo
1 x 17,000 l
Pear
1 x 14,000 l
Pear
6 x 34,000 l
7 t
1897
1,200,000 l
Average Tasting Notes Calculated from 128 Tasting Notes
Nosing
Fruit
Honey
Vanilla
Heather
Sweet
Peat Smoke
Sherry
Oak
Pear
Malt
Apple
Berries
Hay
Orange
Raisin
Peach
Chocolate
Spices
Cinnamon
Alcohol
Lemon
Coffee
Cherry
Herbs
Grass
Plum
Barley
Floral
Wheat
Pinapple
Nuts
Salt
Grape
Melon
Caramel
Oil
Fig
Almonds
Chili
Mint
Tasting
Honey
Fruit
Sweet
Oak
Vanilla
Malt
Spices
Peat Smoke
Heather
Chocolate
Oil
Sherry
Pear
Nuts
Herbs
Lemon
Apple
Orange
Raisin
Pepper
Chili
Pinapple
Coffee
Green Apple
Cherry
Grass
Grape
Dark Chocolate
Floral
Bonfire Smoke
Peach
Almonds
Clove
Alcohol
Tropical Fruit
Cake
Mint
Finish
Oak
Malt
Spices
Peat Smoke
Fruit
Sweet
Sherry
Chocolate
Honey
Oil
Coffee
Heather
Dark Chocolate
Berries
Vanilla
Grass
Apple
Orange
Raisin
Barley
Pepper
Medicinal Smoke
Date
Pear
Alcohol
Mint
Details about the Distillery

The Whisky

The Dalwhinnie distillery sits at the heart of the majestic Cairngorms National Park in the Scottish Highlands. The distillery does a range of official bottlings, with its signature single malt being the 15 year-old although the distillery also produces a 20 year-old and a 36 year-old, among other Distillers Editions. Almost all bottlings are official ones. Independent bottlings haven't been seen for decades. Only a minor percentage of the single malt distilled at Dalwhinnie is marketed as single malt, with the majority being used in the Diageo-owned Buchanan and Black & White blends. Due to its high altitude setting, the distillery today also fulfils a dual function as a working meteorological station, with readings being taken daily. 

The Production

When you’re one of the highest distilleries in Scotland, you can be sure that the water you’re going to be working with will be pretty special. The Allt an T’Sluic Spring, which provides the water used in Dalwhinnie’s production, is wonderfully clear and fresh, thanks in part to the fact that a large proportion of it comes from snow melt. As the spring is a tributary of the river Spey, there has been a great deal of discussion over the years about whether Dalwhinnie should be classified as a Speyside whisky or not. Dalwhinnie’s location in the Western Highlands lies almost at the geographical heart of Scotland, resulting in conflicting opinions on which region it should technically belong to. Dalwhinnie is a relatively small distillery, with a capacity of 1.3 million litres of pure alcohol a year. Additionally, the distillery is one of the few sites in Scotland still using wooden worm tubs. Most sites today use metal ones, if they use them at all. 

The distillery house of Dalwhinne
The Dalwhinnie distillery

The Pot Stills

Dalwhinnie operates with only a single wash still, at 17,000 litres, and a single spirit still at 14,000 liters. Both stills are made by Abercrombie & Co and have a “traditional” still shape with a large bulbous base and a gradually narrowing neck. The neck of the pot still is very tall. This allows the whisky to separate very well, and it creates a very fine distilled spirit.

Malting

The distillery used its own floor maltings until they were shut down in 1968. Today, Dalwhinnie sources its malt from one of Diageo’s industrial malting sites. The malt is very lightly peated, but only enough to give it a hint of a smoky flavour. The malt also has a hint of heather in its flavour, which the distillers say is due to the heather that surrounds the site. 

Warehouse

The Dalwhinnie distillery has two racked warehouses on site, which have room for over 5,000 casks of aging whisky. Dalwhinnie predominantly uses bourbon barrels. Some of the distillers edition, however, are aged in Oloroso sherry casks. 

A look inside the warehouse.
View inside the warehouse of the Dalwhinne Distillery.

History

The Victorians described Dalwhinnie as being “madly located”. Even through modern eyes, it’s possible to see where they were coming from. Dalwhinnie is the third highest located distillery in Scotland, and the meteorological station that has the distinction of observing the lowest recorded temperature in Britain. The distillery maintains the ability to be completely self-contained in the event of high snows, with an entire hostel located on site to house the staff. 

Dalwhinnie’s isolated location is a key part of its history. “Dalwhinnie” means, “meeting place” in Gaelic, a nod to the distillery’s excellent central location. The Strathspey Distillery Company founded the distillery in 1897 and originally operated under the name “Strathspey”. Less than a year later however, the company went into liquidation, and the name of the distillery was changed appropriately as it switched hands to the Dalwhinnie Distillery Company. 

Production continued, with the architect Charles Doig, who is responsible for the famous pagoda shaped roof, contributing to the expansion of the distillery. The distillery changed hands twice more during the first half of the twentieth century, and was briefly owned by an American company, Cook & Bernheimer, making it the very first foreign-owned scotch distillery. In 1934, a fire destroyed the majority of the distillery and production had to be halted for four years while the site was being rebuilt. After the rebuild was completed in 1938, the distillery had to remain closed until 1940, due to wartime restrictions on barley. Since 1940, the distillery has produced whisky almost uninterrupted, save for a brief period in 1986 when the distillery underwent a complete refurbishment. 

Today, Dalwhinnie is owned by Diageo and is part of its Classic Malts range. The brand has reached great critical acclaim, with the 15-year old and the Distillers Edition being awarded the Monde Selection Gold Medals. 

Visitor Centre

Dalwhinnie’s visitor centre opened in 1992 as part of a 3.2 million refurbishment of the distillery and includes a shop and café. It is also possible to take a 45-minute tour of the distillery facility. The distillery also offers an acclaimed “whisky and chocolate” tour, where it’s possible to taste chocolate and whisky side-by-side, observing how they complement each other. 

Chronological rating history

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