Who gets the title “Scotland’s oldest distillery” is open to argument, as historical records are not always clear — and it also depends on your criteria. But here are six of the oldest that can still be visited, in alphabetical order.
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Balblair in Ross-shire was founded in 1790, but the present buildings date to 1895, when it was rebuilt. As well as touring the distillery, you can choose one of their whiskeys to fill your own bottle and add your own label. www.balblair.com
Based in Pitlochry, the picturesque village known as the gateway to the Highlands, Blair Athol was started in 1798 under the name Aldour. www.discovering-distilleries.com/blairathol
Bowmore dates back to 1779 and was the first of many distilleries on the island of Islay off the west coast of Scotland — and eight of them are still open! www.bowmore.com
Glen Garioch in Aberdeenshire prints its 1797 foundation date on every bottle, but there are records showing it was in operation as early as 1785. You can find out more on a distillery visit. www.glengarioch.com
Glenturret in Crieff claims to be Scotland’s oldest distillery, thanks to a license dating from 1775. It closed for a long period due to the effects of prohibition, but it came back and is well-known for The Famous Grouse. experience.thefamousgrouse.com
Strathisla’s claim to fame is that it remains the oldest continuously operating distillery in Scotland. It retains many of its original buildings and was founded in 1786 in Keith.
And there’s gin, too:
It may be hard to believe, but there are Scottish distilleries that don’t make whiskey! Gin has become increasingly popular. Here are four of Scotland’s top gins.
The Botanist: Made by Bruichladdich on Islay, where there are eight malt whiskey distilleries, this gin uses 22 foraged island botanicals. www.thebotanist.com
Edinburgh Gin: Edinburgh now has its own gin distillery. Various tours are available, as well as the chance to make your own gin.
Crossbill: Crossbill claims to be the only Scottish gin using 100 percent Scottish juniper, helping to revive the country’s juniper business. The gin is made on the Inshriach Estate in Aviemore. www.crossbillgin.com
Caorunn: Made in the traditional whiskey heartland of Speyside at the Balmenach Distillery, which dates back to 1824, Caorunn was recently voted one of the world’s 10 best gins. www.caorunngin.com
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