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Dallas Dhu Distillery

A mothballed distillery maintained in working order by Historic Scotland

History

Dallas Dhu Distillery lies just south of Forres on a minor road that branches off the A940. It is adequately signposted, but you do have to overcome the sense of being sent into a housing estate at one point.

The distillery was built in 1898-9 on the estate of Alexander Edward of Sanquhar by a Glasgow based whisky blending company, Wright and Grieg Ltd. Their main blend was called Roderick Dhu and sold well in the 1880s and 1890s, especially in India, Australia and New Zealand.

Dallas Dhu was located on the Altyre Burn to ensure a good supply of the most important raw material, water. Excellent barley was also available nearby, and the site was served by the (now long closed) railway line from Forres to Aviemore.

Dallas Dhu's fortunes fluctuated over the following 80 years, and its ownership changed more than once. The distillery was closed from 1929 to 1936; and the stillhouse burned down in 1939, being rebuilt just in time to be closed once more during World War Two.

Significant investment in the 1960s and 1970s helped bring the distillery up to date, but by the early 1980s it was clear that there were more distilleries than could possibly be needed to meet forecast demand. By 1983 Dallas Dhu was owned by the Distillers Company, who took the decision to close some of their smaller and older distilleries to reduce their capacity and costs. One was Dallas Dhu.

At the same time, the importance of distilling to Scotland's heritage was becoming more widely recognised. The organisation that is now Historic Scotland was therefore looking for a distillery to preserve. Of all those it looked at, Dallas Dhu was about the most complete and original: and it had the added advantage of being smaller than most and relatively easy to manage and maintain. Dallas Dhu therefore reopened as a visitor attraction in 1988.

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