Brora Distillery (the original Clynelish)

Closed & redeveloped


Diageo plc

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Brora Distillery,
United Kingdom

Closed in 1983, Brora produced whisky using malted barley with very high levels of peat and has many devotes who compare its whiskies to those produced on Islay.

Originally founded in 1819 as Clynelish Distillery by Marquis of Stafford (later known as the Duke of Sutherland) to create a market for his tenant farmers’ grain. Now known as the Brora distillery, it lies on the northern outskirts of the village of Brora on the Sutherland coast.

In 1896 the distillery was purchased by Ainslie & Co., whisky blenders from Leith who went bust in 1912. Ownership eventually passed to the Distiller's Company Ltd (DCL) in 1930. Production ceased between 1931-38 and again during the Second World War 1941-1945.

Brora's stills were direct coal-fired until converted to steam in 1961. Then in 1967-68 a brand new, much larger distillery with three pairs of stills as opposed to one was built alongside the old Victorian distillery. The old distillery was closed but re-opened with a re-built mash house in 1975.

The two distilleries were run in tandem with the new distillery known as ‘Clynelish A’ and the old distillery referred to as ‘Clynelish B’. This continued until Customs and Excise insisted the two distilleries should have different names so in 1969 the original Clynelish distillery had the humiliation of being renamed Brora. It was finally shut down altogether in March 1983 but its listed Victorian pagoda buildings remain standing alongside the ugly new distillery.

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