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Collection: The BenRiach Distillery

Rocky history creates smooth whisky


The BenRiach Distillery was established in 1898 by the Grant Family on the same site as the Longmorn Distillery. Indeed, locally BenRiach was sometimes referred to as ‘Longmorn 2’.

However, the timing proved to be unfortunate, preceding the ‘Pattison Crash’ by just a few months. ‘Pattison, Elder and Co’, fronted by Robert and Walter Pattison, were the biggest purchaser of whisky at that time. Because of their buying power, distilleries were willing to extend significant credit to Pattison Elder, unaware of the firm’s precarious financial position. When they eventually went bust, many distilleries were crippled, and the whisky business moved into a period of recession.

Widespread distillery closures follow the Pattison Crash, and BenRiach was mothballed in 1900 after just two years of production. The distillery remained closed until 1965, however BenRiach’s floor maltings remained in constant production during this period, providing malted barley for the fully operational Longmorn Distillery.

In 1965 BenRiach was re-opened by Glenlivet Distillers Ltd, having been almost totally rebuilt, and production re-convened. Later that year Glenlivet Distillers Ltd, and the various distilleries under their ownership, including BenRiach and Longmorn, were purchased by Canadian whisky firm Seagrams.

In addition to the regular distillation, production of peated malt whisky commences in 1983. This move is a response to the increasing cost of Islay whisky due to a general industry shortage. With no Islay distillery in their portfolio, and with peated malt a key component in Seagram’s blended whisky brands, the firm decided to produce their own peated Speyside, at BenRiach - a very unusual move at that time for a Speyside distillery.It is from the stock of peated BenRiach that the previous owners laid down that the distillery produces 'Curiositas', the only comercially available Speyside single malt distilled from peated malted barley.

Then in 1999 the BenRiach floor maltings are closed after 101 years of uninterrupted operation. The maltings remain in good working order, and are re-activated again in 2001, when Seagrams is acquired by French firm Pernod Ricard, creating the 2nd largest spirits firm in the world after Diageo.

The Pernod Ricard group quickly moves four distilleries rotational production, distilling for just 3 months of the year; BenRiach, Allt a’Bhainne, Braeval and Caperdonich. Then in August 2002 all four distilleries are subsequently mothballed yet again.

In April 2004 BenRiach is acquired by an independent consortium consisting of 3 partners; Scotch Whisky veteran Billy Walker, and South Africans Geoff Bell and Wayne Keiswetter. Since taking over the distillery in 2004, they have continued to distill both varieties of BenRiach; peated and non-peated. Rest assured that the future of both styles of BenRiach is secure.

Production re-convenes immediately, meaning the inventory is effectively uninterrupted.