The Craigellachie distillery was built in 1891, in Aberlour, Banffshire near the village of Craigellachie, by Craigellachie Distillery Co. Limited, a group of blenders and merchants led by Alexander Edward. Two years later (1893) it was incorporated as a limited company and in 1896 it was reconstructed as Craigellachie-Glenlivet Distillery Ltd.
The distillery is situated at the centre of the Speyside whisky producing area of Scotland (where the rivers Fiddich and Spey meet). The name Craigellachie means “rocky hill”, referring to the cliff that overlooks the Spey across from The Macallan distillery.
The Craigellachie distillery was described as old-fashioned even in 1891 as they used ‘worm tubs’ to cool the vapour down and condense the spirit back into liquid form, and bestow it with extra flavour; something they continue doing to this day.
As part of the distillation process for this whisky, Craigellachie uses ‘worm tubs’ to cool the vapour down and condense the spirit back into liquid form.
Distilleries typically convert distilled spirit back in to liquid by passing the spirit vapor through a condenser, which surrounds the copper piping and through which cold water is passed.
The worm tub does the same thing. Normally sited outside the distillery, it consists of a pool of cold flowing water through which the pipes zig-zag across the bottom – hence the name worm.
Worm tubs take more space than a condenser and require considerable work to maintain, and they are hostage to the vagaries of the weather: if the water in the tub warms, condensation becomes difficult and potentially impossible. For this reason they have largely been replaced.
Traditional and in many cases dispensed with years ago, they are an increasingly rare and old fashioned method that creates a unique strong and meaty character.
Only a few other distilleries, such as Old Pulteney, Glen Elgin, Mortlach and Springbank also use worm tubs.
During the years that followed, ownership passed to Peter Mackie (in 1916), the Distillery Company Limited (in 1927) and SMD (in 1930). The transfer to SMD marked the beginning of a period of stability for Craigellachie; apart from a reconstruction in 1964-65 during which the number of pot stills was doubled, relatively little happened at the distillery.
In 1998, Craigellachie was sold to John Dewar & Sons - the owners of Aberfeldy, Royal Brackla, Aultmore, and Macduff and themselves part of the Bacardi drinks conglomerate.
During its history, the distillery has released only a handful of official bottlings. The distillery's product is currently primarily used for Dewar's blended whisky.
The Craigellachie distillery does not have a visitor center.