By: Susan Colville, Brand Home Manager
As a born and bred Speyside girl, I was of course drawn to working in the whisky industry, and have done so for most of my adult life. As the Brand Home Manager at Benromach Distillery, I am responsible for all inbound visitors to the site.
The Benromach Distillery was built in 1898 by Charles Doig, a famous architect from Elgin, known also for his creation of the commonly used pagoda ventilator. Benromach was the last distillery that Doig built and was a mirror image of the Dallas Dhu distillery it was built with. The distillery didn’t start properly producing until the early 1900’s, however the wars halted production and eventually the distiller was purchased by DCL, which later became SMD, also known as Diageo. Benromach was later mothballed in the 1980’s but later purchased in 1993 by independent bottler Gordon & MacPhail.
When Benromach was purchased in 1993, it was essentially an empty shell. In poor condition, a renovation project began on the distillery. Aiming to recreate a lost style of Speyside whisky, which is slightly more peated, everything was placed in the distillery to create that specific style of spirit. After 5 years of renovation, production at Benromach started back up in 1998. In 2018, we will have been producing our whisky for 20 years, and the distillery turns 120 years as well. We have big celebrations to look forward to.
Benromach uses traditional methods for creating our whisky where everything is done by hand. From completing old fashioned water tests to check the spirit cut, to hand filling our casks, and even rolling them into our warehouse, everything at Benromach is done without automation. During tours, visitors can see the guardians of the centuries of whisky know-how producing the whisky mostly in one room. Visitors love how they can smell all of the aromas of production from the wash to the liquid in the spirit safe, which gives them a really intimate whisky experience.
The beauty of our distillery is that it small with a more relaxed and informal feel. Tours at Benromach start whenever a visitor wishes to come in during our opening times and a tour can last as long as they wish. During a tour, visitors are taken into our distillery and can see how our still men work. We even give visitors the opportunity to smell our new make spirit and rub it into their hands to feel all the fatty acids and esters. And there is usually a distillery manager or whisky maker around to answer questions. Afterwards, visitors are taken to see our traditional dunnage warehouses before finishing back at the visitor centre for the most important part, the tasting.
We offer four tours:
The Classic Tour, a guided walk through the distillery followed by a tasting of our award-winner Benromach 10 Years Old.
The Contrast Tour, a leisurely tour followed by a delicious exploration of our expressions, a tutored tasting of four drams from our collection.
The Heritage Tour, an in-depth tour around the distillery alongside our Brand Home Manager with a led tasting of the Benromach range in our cosy tasting rooms.
The Personal Distillery Manager Experience, with a guided tour from Keith Cruickshank, Distillery Manager, learning about our hand-crafted spirit and selection of finest oak casks. Following, is an opportunity to taste a selection of drams, chosen by Keith, that reflect the classic Benromach style. Before leaving, you will be given an exclusive bottle of Benromach, only available at the distillery, to take home and enjoy.
We look forward to welcoming you to Benromach on The Malt Whisky Trail soon!