HISTORIC Scotland are looking at the possibility of going into the whisky production business for the first time as part of proposals to transform a mothballed Speyside distillery into a major tourist attraction for Scotland’s national drink.
• Historic Scotland consider entering whisky business as feasability study commissioned on distillery
• Dallas Dhu distillery may be re-opened for business despite being closed since 1983
The Dallas Dhu distillery near Forres in Moray, ceased to operate as a working distillery 1983 and had been owned and by managed since 1998 as a visitor attraction by Historic Scotland, the agency charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment.
But it has now been revealed that a feasibility study has been commissioned to look at the possibility of restarting whisky production at the historic site as part of proposals to establish the Dallas Dhu Distillery as a national whisky visitor attraction.
The new lease of life for the distillery has been revealed by Fiona Hyslop, Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, in a letter to Richard Lochhead, the SNP MSP for Moray.
She states: “The feasibility study, as currently proposed, is an essential first step for Dallas Dhu as it will allow Historic Scotland to assess whether it is possible to bring the distillery back into production while conserving the historic nature of the site.
“In addition Historic Scotland has met with whisky industry experts to discuss Dallas Dhu and will be in a better position further advise on the next steps after these experts have visited the site and reported back.”
Mr Lochhead welcomed the move. He said: “Dallas Dhu is already an important visitor attraction for Moray and could have enormous potential as a working distillery attraction and a national focal point for whisky tourism.
“ While many distilleries have excellent visitor facilities their production arrangements change over time with the development of new and more efficient distilling technologies. At Dallas Dhu I believe there could be an opportunity to showcase traditional distilling techniques as a living history attraction.”
He continued: “ That would be a unique and memorable experience for visitors from home and abroad offering an insight into the production of our most famous product, which is also our very own national drink.
“ I look forward to hearing further progress on this in due course.”
Dallas Dhu Distillery produced whisky from 1899 to 1983. The distillery was opened by entrepreneur Alexander Edward when he built two new distilleries on the outskirts of Forres, Benromach and Dallasmore. The Dallasmore distillery was sold before it had gone into production, to Glasgow firm Wright and Greig Ltd., who changed its name to Dallas Dhu.
After the First World War it was sold it to J. P. O’Brien & Co Ltd of Glasgow, but the company went into liquidation in 1921, and Dallas Dhu was then sold to the Benmore Distillery. It continued in production until 1983 when it was closed largely because of a water shortage, produced by a prolonged drought.
The distillery’s guidebook states: “Whisky is Scotland’s national drink. It has evolved out of our landscape and history. While the march of change has transformed many distilleries, and closed others, Dallas Dhu remains – a perfectly preserved time capsule.”