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Founded in 1897 by John Hopkins, locals traditionally refer to the Speyburn Distillery as ‘The Gibbet’ (pronounced ‘jib-it’) because of its location near ‘Cnock na Croiche’ meaning ‘hill of the gibbet’, a gibbet being an old word for gallows.
In Late February 2014, Inver House Distillers announced a GBP4m (US$6.7m) expansion programme to double the capacity of its Speyburn Distillery to 4 million litres per annum.
1897 was Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee year and as building work on the new distillery dragged into December, Hopkins was determined to start distilling whisky to mark the jubilee year. So as a blizzard blow in through the yet to be glazed stillhouse windows, distillers in heavy overcoats laboured on 15th December to produce just one cask of 1897 vintage Speyburn.
In 1916 Hopkins sold Speyburn to the Distillers Company Limited. From 1939 to 1947 the distillery was closed due to being used as barracks by two Scottish Artillery regiments. The current owners, Inver House Distillers, acquired Speyburn in 1992.
Speyburn was the first malt distillery to install ‘Henning’s Pneumatic Drum Maltings’. Laid out over three levels, mechanically driven germination drums slowly revolved to stop the rootlets matting together so negating the manual labour previously required. Although they ceased operating in 1967, the drum maltings at Speyburn is the only serving example with the original workings preserved and the four original wooden malt hoppers still in use.