The beautiful picturesque distillery at Deanston is one of a number of distilleries that you can easily reach from Edinburgh, and its rich and interesting history mean it’s a distillery tour that will capture everyone’s imagination.
Here’s what to expect on a visit to Deanston Distillery, from Visitor Assistant Vanessa Glindmeier.
From Cotton Mill to Highland Malt Whisky
Driving up north-west from Edinburgh, go past the Kelpies, past Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument emerging in the distance, and you will get to one of the hidden gems in the Scotch Whisky world, Deanston Distillery. Tours here run every hour on the hour and are packed with history, whisky facts and fun (brace yourselves for “fun facts” all the way through this blog, too!)
Did you know, for example, the distillery started out as the Deanston Cotton Mill back in 1785 and only started producing Single Malt Scotch Whisky in 1967, after the decline of the cotton market?
Fun fact: Deanston therefore counts as one of the youngest distilleries in Scotland.
The mill closed its doors in April 1965, and instead of letting the building go to waste, the cotton wool machinery made way for four copper pot stills, one of the infamous Porteus Patent Mills (fun fact: The Porteus Mill has only broken twice, and that was down to human error!), and seven stainless steel mash tuns, some of which are the originals from 1967. They will be exchanged soon though, so be quick if you want to see those pieces of the distillery’s history!
Tours at the distillery will take you through each step of the production process and allow a cordial glimpse behind the scenes of this history-laden place. Certainly, one of the highlights at the distillery is the atmospheric warehouse.
Fun fact: here you will find casks which have been signed by cast and crew of the movie Angels’ Share (a must see for every humouristic whisky enthusiast!) in 2012. And did you know, traditionally, buyers would come in and sign a cask to guarantee their whisky would be bottled out of that particular cask? The oldest cask in the warehouse dates back to 1974 and comes from Deanston’s sister distillery on the island of Mull: Tobermory/Ledaig. It is common practice in the world of whisky to keep casks of sister distilleries in their warehouses and vise versa, in order to protect the stock from unforeseen, disastrous events, such as floods and fires (not so fun fact: Deanston was hit by a flood-scare in 2015).
Green all around!
Some fun facts about Deanston’s green commitments.
First up, ever since the 1830s, Deanston has generated its own electricity through waterwheels located in the nearby river Teith, and is currently the only distillery in Scotland able to do that. They are even able to pass on the excess energy to the National Grid. Furthermore, at Deanston, the holy trinity of ingredients in single malt Scotch whisky (that’s water, yeast and barley), are sourced from Scotland alone! And lastly, only in the first two weeks after the quiet season, when the washbacks, mash tuns and stills are immaculately clean, the distillery produces their Organic style Single Malt, using untreated malted barley.
I would highly recommend a trip to Deanston! It is a working distillery, so you get the chance to see the production of Scotland’s liquid gold live and in technicolour! It is easy to get there, by car or bus, from Stirling, and is surrounded by even more to see, such as Doune Castle – film location for Monty Python and TV shows such as Outlander and Game of Thrones. Deanston Distillery is a guaranteed fun trip, and my colleagues and I have learned so much along the way! Leaving me with only one more thing to say…
Visit Deanston Distillery’s website and book a tour here.
Not in Scotland for long but looking for some in-depth Scotch whisky knowledge? Why not try a Morning Masterclass at the Scotch Whisky Experience – the perfect tour to find out your own fun facts and ask plenty of questions about the secrets of Scotch Whisky.