Closed & demolished
Pernod Ricard Group
1,600,000 litres (mash size 11.56 tonnes)
Not open to public
Carron, Morayshire, Scotland AB38 7QP,
Imperial only produced whicky for 45 years of its 115 year history. There are few bottlings and there has only ever been one official bottling, a 15 years old expression from Allied Domecq. Imperial's production was used for blending rather than bottled as a single malt. Consequently, Imperial has a rarity that makes it an interesting malt for collectors.
In October 2012, Pernod Ricard, the owners of then mothballed Imperial Distillery announced plans to build a new malt whisky distillery, Dalmunach Distillery, on the site of the old distillery which had sat mothballed since 1998.
1897 – Established
Constructed by Thomas Mackenzie, an entrepreneur who already owned two other malt distilleries (Dailuaine and Talisker). Building started in 1897, the year of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee and the year that the British Prime Minister, Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, hosted the first Imperial conference. This obviously influenced the naming of the distillery which stands out from that of most others which are named after their location. This Queen’s Jubilee was celebrated with the building being topped with a gilded cast-iron crown. This was eventually removed in 1955 due to corrosion.
1898 – Completed
Production was completed in the summer of 1898 just as the Victorian whisky boom was starting to fade. Designed to be fire resistant by architect Charles Doig, Imperial is built of red Aberdeen brick with an iron beam and pillar framework. This was an important development in distillery design as previously they were constructed from the local stone. The first mash at the distillery was on 2nd July 1898.
1898 – Ownership change
Mackenzie also held interests in Talisker and Dailuaine Distillery (the latter lies a short drive away on the road to the A95) and as production from his new Imperial Distillery commenced, he decided to consolidate his distilling interests into Dailuaine-Talisker Distilleries Ltd and this company assumed the administration of all three distilleries. At the time Imperial was claimed to be the largest distillery in the Highlands.
1899 – Silent
Imperial did not get off to an auspicious start and in the summer of the next year it closed, a casualty of Pattison Whisky Crisis which sent shock waves through the industry after Pattison's of Leith, whisky blenders and distillery owners collapsed with enormous debts. Production at Imperial had barely lasted a year.
1915-1916 – Acquired
Imperial was partially acquired by Distillers Company Limited (DCL), a consortium comprising James Buchanan, John Walker and John Dewar which was eventually become what we know today as Diageo.
1919 – Reopened
Production resumed at Imperial after lying silent for 20 years, possibly due to a major fire disrupting production at nearby Dailuaine.
1925 – Mothballed
DCL (Distillers Company Limited) acquired 100% of Imperial but that same year also ceased operations at the distillery, bringing to an end a short six year burst of production. However, the maltings remained active.
1930 – Management Change
The management of Imperial was taken over by Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd (SMD), a Scottish subsidiary of DCL.
1954 – The turbine which generated the distillery’s power from the Ballintom Burn became redundant as the distillery was connected to the National Grid.
1955 – Reopened
Imperial is reopened by SMD after extensive renovations, which included the removal of the now rusty and somewhat superfluous crown and the installation of an evaporator and spray drying as part of an experiment in pot ale drying.
1964-65 – Expansion
An expansion program by SMD saw the number of stills doubled from two to four, heated by mechanical coal stokers.
1967 – Floor Maltings Replaced
A Saladin malting by Thomas Mackenzie was installed to malt the barley. The adjacent railway is closed the same year.
1969 – Stills converted
The four stills are converted to steam heating.
1983-1984 – Maltings closed
1985 – Mothballed
Imperial was closed by SMD and the distillery mothballed bringing a production period of 30 years to an end, the longest in Imperial's shaky history.
1989 – Acquired
Sold to Allied Distillers (would become part of the Allied Domecq conglomerate) who refurbished the distillery.
1991 – Production resumed.
1998 – Mothballed
The last production at Imperial was on St Andrew’s Day. Mothballed once again.
2000 – Officially closed
Allied Domecq announced that it was making the closure of Imperial permanent and applications were filed and granted by Moray Council for demolition of the distillery buildings and construction of housing.
2005 – Acquired
Imperial was bought by Pernod Ricard's Chivas Brothers as part of the dismembering of the former Allied Domecq empire. Instructions to estate agents, Bell Ingram, to sell Imperial for redevelopment were withdrawn. Although still silent, the distillery received a stay of execution.
2012 - Demolished
Imperial was demolished by Pernod Ricard to make way for their new Dalmunach Distillery, built on the same site.