Whisky Types: Single Malts
Typical Taste: Full boodied, smooth and warming with hints of smoke
Dalwhinnie Distillery is situated in the Grampian Mountains near the geographical centre of Scotland. Dalwhinnie has been a meeting point especially among cattle drovers for many centuries. The distillery belongs to one of the highest located distilleries in the land and was opened under the name Strathspey. Soon the three owners had financial problems and the distillery changed the owners a couple of times. In 1934, Dalwhinnie Distillery was almost entirely destroyed by a fire and it took more than 100 years until the distillery was in production again. Last time the distillery was renovated was in 1995. Now it produces about 2 million litres and also has a visitor centre.
Dalwhinnie Distillery is known for its “Gentle Spirit“. The Single Malt whisky is full-bodied, smooth and warming. The malt whisky is also used as a major component for the Buchanan blended whiskies. The Single malts are available as 15, 18 and 20 year editions. The 15 year old whisky is smooth, creamy with notes of vanilla, heather, honey and a hint of smoke. The 18 year old version has notes of dried fruit, cinnamon, cloves and a warming peat glow.
Tours are available from £6 for the standard tour and premium tours are available from £30. The Distillery is open throughout the whole year. However, opening times change a lot from season to season. Therefore it is best to check the Dalwhinnie Distillery website before visiting the distillery. Dalwhinnie Distillery is a 4 star visitor experience.
- Dalwhinnie Single Malt 15 year – Smooth, fruity, honey, heather, hints of smoke
- Dalwhinnie Single Cask 20 year – Spices, ginger, heather and hints of smoke
- Dalwhinnie Single Malt 18 year
- Buchanan Whisky Blend
Opening Times: Open throughout the whole year.
Dalwhinnie Whisky Distillery: A Visitors Guide to Scotland’s Highland Gem
Nestled in the heart of the Cairngorm National Park, Dalwhinnie Distillery stands out as the highest distillery in Scotland at 1,164 feet above sea level. This renowned distillery is home to a famous Highland Single Malt Whisky, known for its gentle flavours accentuated with notes of heather honey, citrus, vanilla, and sweet malt. As a VisitScotland five-star attraction, Dalwhinnie Distillery offers a unique experience for whisky enthusiasts and tourists alike, set against the stunning backdrop of mountain scenery.
The Dalwhinnie Distillery Visitor Centre welcomes guests with a fascinating array of displays, showcasing the history and craftsmanship behind their exceptional whisky. Tours of the distillery provide a captivating insight into the whisky-making process, and of course, include a wee dram for visitors to enjoy. The distillery also boasts an on-site Whisky Shop, where guests can browse and purchase their favourite Highland Single Malt Whisky to take home.
With its impressive elevation and striking location in the Scottish Highlands, the Dalwhinnie Distillery has become a must-visit destination for those exploring the scenic beauty of Scotland. Combining rich heritage, traditional whisky-making techniques, and the welcoming atmosphere of the Visitor Centre, Dalwhinnie offers a truly unforgettable experience for all who make the journey to this iconic distillery.
Dalwhinnie Whisky Distillery History
Origins and Founding
The Dalwhinnie Distillery was founded in 1897 by Scotsmen George Sellar and Alex Mackenzie. The name Dalwhinnie is derived from the Gaelic language, meaning ‘meeting place’. The distillery was established in the Scottish Highlands, known for its gentle flavours in whisky production, with notes of heather, honey, citrus, vanilla, and sweet malt.
Ownership and Growth
In 1905, the distillery was sold to an American company. However, the prohibition in America made the venture unprofitable for the new owners, so Dalwhinnie soon returned to Scottish possession. In 1968, the maltings ceased production, and barley was brought in from specialist maltsters for greater control over peatiness and alcohol yield. The distillery experienced further modernisation in 1972 when oil-firing replaced coal.
In 1988-1989, United Distillers (UD) chose Dalwhinnie as part of the Classic Malt Series, making the single malt more widely available. A visitor centre was built in 1991 and the distillery closed for a £3.2 million refurbishment in 1992. The centre opened, and the distillery was licensed to James Buchanan & Co. The distillery reopened in March 1995 and is currently owned by Diaego, continuing the legacy of producing high-quality Highland Single Malt Whisky.
Whisky Production Process
Ingredients and Mashing
The whisky production process at Dalwhinnie Distillery starts with selecting high-quality ingredients. The primary ingredients include sweet malted barley, heather honey, citrus fruits, vanilla, and abundant peat from the surrounding bogs. The distillery sources clear spring water for the whisky-making process. The malted barley is crushed in a mill, mixed with hot water in a large vessel called a mash tun. This process extracts the sugars from the malted barley, resulting in a sweet liquid called wort.
Fermentation and Distillation
The wort is then transferred to fermentation vessels, known as washbacks. Here, yeast is added, converting the sugars in the wort into alcohol. Fermentation typically takes around 48 hours, producing a beer-like liquid called wash. The wash is then distilled twice in copper pot stills to increase alcohol concentration and purity. The first distillation produces low wines, while the second distillation results in a clear spirit called new make.
- First Distillation: Low wines (20-25% alcohol by volume)
- Second Distillation: New make (~70% alcohol by volume)
Maturation and Bottling
The new make spirit is filled into oak casks for maturation, which significantly contributes to the whisky’s final flavour profile. At Dalwhinnie Distillery, the whisky is aged for a minimum of 15 years in the casks. During this time, the whisky extracts flavour compounds, tannins, and colour from the wood, and its alcohol content gradually reduces.
After maturation, the whisky is bottled at the distillery. Some of the popular Dalwhinnie whisky expressions include:
- Dalwhinnie 15-Year-Old: Notes of heather honey, citrus, vanilla, and sweet malt
- Distillery Exclusive Bottling: Limited edition, available only at the distillery
- Special Release: A unique expression offered for a limited time
Visitors to Dalwhinnie Distillery can enjoy a guided tour, whisky tastings, and specially paired artisan chocolates from The Highland Chocolatier.
Tastings and Tours
The Dalwhinnie Distillery is a five-star attraction, located in the Cairngorm National Park and surrounded by scenic mountain landscapes. Famous for its Highland Single Malt Whisky with gentle flavours of heather honey, citrus, vanilla, and sweet malt, a visit to the distillery offers a unique and enjoyable experience. This section will cover the tour options and prices, as well as the whisky tasting experience.
Tour Options and Prices
At the Dalwhinnie Distillery, you can join a guided tour to learn more about the distillery’s history, production process, and the distinctive flavours of their whiskies. Note that during winter, the distillery may close at short notice due to weather conditions, so it is advisable to check their Google listing for updates before planning your visit. The different tour options available include:
Standard Tour: Explore the distillery, learn about the process of whisky-making, and taste the Dalwhinnie Single Malt Whisky.
Whisky & Chocolate Tasting Tour: Enjoy a specialized tour that pairs whiskies with handmade chocolates, allowing you to experience unique taste combinations.
Prices for the tours may vary, and it’s best to check the distillery’s website or contact them directly for the latest information on pricing.
Whisky Tasting Experience
During the whisky tasting at the Dalwhinnie Distillery, you’ll have the opportunity to sample and appreciate their Highland Single Malt Whisky. The experience typically includes:
Guided Tasting: Knowledgeable staff members will guide you through the tasting, explaining the unique flavour notes of each whisky sampled.
Diverse Selection: You may have the chance to taste a range of whiskies, from their classic expressions to limited edition releases.
Whisky & Chocolate Pairing: If you choose the Whisky & Chocolate Tasting Tour, you’ll be treated to a special pairing of Dalwhinnie whiskies and handmade chocolates, enhancing the flavours of both the whisky and the chocolate.
Visiting the Dalwhinnie Distillery for tastings and tours is an exciting and memorable experience for whisky enthusiasts and those looking to learn more about this iconic Scottish drink. Make sure to plan your visit in advance to get the most out of your time at this renowned distillery.
Visitor Centre and Amenities
The Dalwhinnie Distillery Visitor Centre is a VisitScotland five-star attraction situated in the heart of the Cairngorm National Park. It is the highest distillery in Scotland, located at 1,164 feet above sea level. The visitor centre offers guests a range of amenities to enhance their experience, including a shop and café.
Shop and Souvenirs
The Whisky Shop at Dalwhinnie Distillery provides a wide selection of products for visitors to purchase, including their famous Highland Single Malt Whisky. The whisky is renowned for its gentle flavours accentuated with notes of heather honey, citrus, vanilla, and sweet malt. In addition to whisky, the shop also offers a range of unique souvenirs and gifts, such as branded glassware, clothing, and accessories.
Café and Local Treats
The Café at the visitor centre offers a variety of refreshments and local treats for guests to enjoy during their visit. Whether you’re stopping in for a light lunch or just a cup of tea, the café provides a cosy atmosphere where you can relax and take in the stunning mountain scenery surrounding the distillery. Don’t miss the opportunity to try some locally-produced treats, such as handmade chocolates or locally sourced artisan cheeses, which can pair perfectly with your Dalwhinnie whisky.
How to Get There
To reach the Dalwhinnie Distillery by car, it is conveniently located just off the A9 motorway, which connects Inverness and Perth. The distillery is approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes from Inverness and 1 hour and 45 minutes from Perth. Upon arrival, the distillery offers free onsite parking for visitors.
The nearest train station to Dalwhinnie Distillery is situated in Dalwhinnie village, just a short walk from the distillery. The scenic Highland Mainline route connects major cities such as Inverness, Edinburgh, and Glasgow to Dalwhinnie. Train journey times to Dalwhinnie are approximately:
- From Inverness: 1 hour and 20 minutes
- From Edinburgh: 2 hours and 30 minutes
- From Glasgow: 3 hours
Although there are no direct bus services to the Dalwhinnie Distillery, you can still use public transport by taking a bus to nearby towns like Aviemore or Newtonmore, and then either transfer to a local bus service or take a taxi to the distillery. Please note that bus schedules may be limited, so it is advisable to check current timetables and plan your journey accordingly.