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The Out About Scotland complete guide to Dallas Dhu Distillery
Category: Historic building, Industrial, Museum, Whisky
Suitable for ages: 11 to 18 years, 18+ years, 65+ years
Ideal for: Couples, Families, Groups, Solo travellers
I rate it: 7 out of 10
About Dallas Dhu Distillery
Whisky is one of Scotland’s most-loved exports with millions of bottles sold around the world annually. Although the Scotch ‘water of life’ (known as uisge beatha in its native Gaelic) has been made in Scotland for hundreds of years the first official records of the distillation process that we recognise today date from 1494.
Many distilleries have been and gone in the intervening years but luckily for whisky-loving tourists the distillery at Dallas Dhu is now in the protection of Historic Environment Scotland (HES) who have restored this fascinating part of Scotland’s history back to its former glory, although unfortunately it no longer produces spirit.
The old distillery is interesting to walk around and HES have done a great job of explaining how grain becomes spirit thanks to a series of installed information panels.
If you’ve got any kind of interest in the history of Scotch whisky and how it’s made you’ll definitely enjoy visiting this tourist attraction in Morayshire.
Continue reading to discover why you should visit this attraction.
Things to do at Dallas Dhu Distillery
Although there are guides on hand to answer questions you’re allowed to make your own way around so you can explore this museum at your own pace, but I suggest you take it slow to read each information panel as they’re full of facts about Scotland’s favourite tipple.
As you walk around the rooms in the distillery you’re told of the daily life of the buildings and the men that worked there on a self-guided audio tour, but if you prefer the human touch there are knowledgeable HES guides in the gift shop to tell you anything you might want to know about the distilling process.
The entire complex is open to explore and you’ll be able to visit all the areas where the whisky production took place – from the two-storey malt barn warehouse where barley grains were turned into malt, to the still house where the ‘wash’ was turned into spirit.
The entire process is retold in detail thanks to the HES audio tour and you’ll soon discover each stage of the whisky life-cycle and how the grain and water slowly turns into alcohol.
But perhaps the most important part of the distillation process is the stage where seemingly nothing happens at all, which you’ll be able to see for yourself in the enormous bonded warehouses.
These huge storage areas contain the oak barrels that the whisky used to be stored in, and you might be interested to know that Scotch whisky can’t actually be given that name until it’s stood in a bonded warehouse in Scotland for at least three years.
If you’ve ever visited a working distillery you’ll know what a strong smell these warehouses produce, and while Dallas Dhu’s barrels have long-since been emptied they really do make you feel like you’re stepping back into a long-lost age of whisky production, which I think is a sign of the best restored historic attractions.
In fact, walking around the entire complex is like stepping back in time, and the rich smells of grain and antique oiled machinery are certainly evocative of a bygone era.
The end of the self-guided tour includes a dram of whisky from a small bar next to the well-stocked gift shop, and an outside picnic area surrounded by fields is the perfect place to stop for a well-earned lunch.
The history of Dallas Dhu Distillery
Dallas Dhu began life as the Dallasmore distillery in 1898 when entrepreneur Alexander Edward saw an opportunity to meet the rising demand for fine malts to be included in the blends that were popular at the time.
However, Edward sold Dallasmore to a Glasgow whisky blending company before it actually went into production, and it was this company that changed the name to Dallas Dhu to highlight the link between Dallasmore and their own whisky blend, Roderick Dhu.
Although Dallas Dhu produced quality whisky for over 80 years, falling demand in whisky blends meant that it had to reduce production in the 1970s, and the doors were finally closed in 1983.
Since that time Historic Environment Scotland have taken ownership of the plant and have carefully restored the buildings and machinery into a faithful recreation of the original working site.
What I liked about this attraction
- This restored distillery is a unique glimpse into Scotland’s whisky history
- It’s really interesting to learn about yester-year whisky production
- You get a free dram at the end!
My top tips
- You can visit a still-working distillery at Benromach which just a 10-minute drive away
- Check out my Guide to the Single Malt Whisky Regions to learn more about Scotch whisky production
Photos and video
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Address and directions map
Prices and opening times
Special offer! Click this affiliate link to purchase a Historic Environment Scotland Explorer Pass from Viator. Your 5-day or 14-day pass allows free entry to more than 77 castles, cathedrals, distilleries and more throughout Scotland. With passes starting at just £35 (as of 2019) it’s an absolute bargain!
- Member/Explorer Pass holder: Free
- Adult: £6.00
- Child aged 5–15: £3.60
- Child under 5: Free
- Concession: £4.80
- 1 April to 30 September: Daily, 9.30am to 5.30pm. Last entry 5pm
- 1 October to 31 March: Daily except Thursday and Friday, 10am to 4pm. Last entry 3.30pm
- 25 and 26 December and 1 and 2 January.
- Telephone: 01309 676 548
- email: NA
- Website: Historic Environment Scotland website
Getting there: Car park on-site
Getting around: Easy-access paths, Disabled access, Pushchair access
On-site conveniences: Gift shop, Picnic area, Snacks, Toilets