By Craig Neil
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Table of Contents
- Tourist information
- Tourist map of Scotland
- Things to do nearby
- Frequently asked questions
Step back in time with a visit to Dallas Dhu distillery, the 19th-century whisky distillery that became a tourist attraction after spirit production ended in 1983.
Discover the historic attraction in this guide which includes an overview and helpful visiting advice.
|Opening Hours:||Summer: 1 Apr - 30 Sept, Daily 9.30 am - 5.30 pm (last entry 5 pm)
Winter: 1 Oct - 31 Mar, Daily except for Thurs and Fri, 10 am - 4 pm (last entry 3.30 pm)
|Admission Price:||Member/Explorer Pass holder: FREE
Child aged 5-15: £3.60
Child under 5: FREE
|Parking:||Free on-site car park|
|Contact:||01309 676 548|
|Facilities:||Toilets, partial disabled access, gift shop, picnic area, water refill|
1: This restored distillery is a unique glimpse into Scotland’s whisky-making history. As far as I know, this is the only attraction of its kind in Scotland.
2: It’s fascinating to learn about yesteryear’s whisky production, so thankfully HES has provided plenty of information panels in case you want to know more about the old distilling techniques.
3: You get a free dram at the end! Just don’t forget we have a near-zero drink-drive policy in Scotland.
1: There’s a gift shop on site but no café. You can at least get snacks at Dallas Dhu but if you’re really hungry I recommend driving a couple of miles into Forres which has lots of places to eat on the High Street.
2: After you’ve seen Dallas Dhu you can visit a still-working distillery at Benromach which is just a 10-minute drive away.
3: Check out my Guide to the Single Malt Whisky Regions to learn more about Scotch whisky.
Scotch Whisky is one of the country’s most-loved exports, with millions of bottles sold around the world annually.
The ‘water of life’ (known as uisge beatha in its native Gaelic) has been made in Scotland for hundreds of years and the first official records of the distillation process date as far back as 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).
HES has restored this fascinating piece of Scotland’s whisky heritage back to its former glory, although unfortunately it no longer produces spirit.
The old distillery is fascinating to walk around and HES has done a great job of explaining how grain becomes spirit through a series of 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.
Although there are tour guides on hand to answer questions you can walk around the distillery at your own pace so I suggest you take it slow to read each information panel as they’re packed full of facts about Scotland’s favourite tipple.
As you meander through the rooms you’re also told of the daily life of the buildings and the people who worked there on a self-guided audio tour, which I definitely recommend you pick up from the ticket desk.
The entire complex is open to explore and you’ll be able to visit all the areas where 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 process is retold in detail and you’ll soon discover each stage of the whisky life-cycle and how the grain and water slowly turn into alcohol.
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 was stored in (if you didn’t know, Scotch whisky can’t be given that name until it’s stood in a bonded warehouse in Scotland for at least three years), and the smell still lingers in the air.
If you’ve ever visited a working distillery you’ll know what an amazing 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 in time.
In fact, walking around the distillery is a bit like taking a journey in a time machine and the rich smells of grain and antique oiled machinery are certainly evocative of a bygone era.
Two areas to take a good look at are the still house that contains the enormous copper stills and the room containing the giant mash tun that mixed malted barley and water.
You can see similar equipment in use at the nearby Benromach distillery but you won’t be able to get as close as you can at Dallas Dhu.
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.
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 has taken ownership of the plant and they’ve carefully restored the buildings and machinery into a faithful recreation of the original working site.
If you want to find the best whisky distilleries in the region read my Guide to the Speyside Whisky Trail.
Tourist map of Scotland
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Explore this area with a detailed paper map from Ordnance Survey:
Elgin, Forres & Lossiemouth – 423 Explorer.
Nairn & Forres – 27 Landranger.
OS Explorer Maps: Best for walking, mountain biking, and finding footpaths. 1:25,000 scale (4cm = 1km in real world). Buy OS Explorer maps direct from Ordnance Survey.
OS Landranger Maps: Best for road cycling, touring by car, and finding attractions. 1:50 000 scale (2 cm = 1 km in real world). Buy OS Landranger maps direct from Ordnance Survey.
Things to do nearby
Benromach Distillery. Invererne Rd, Forres IV36 3EB. 8-minute drive. A highly-rated Speyside single malt whisky distillery that was founded in 1898. The distillery offers guided tours and whisky tastings.
Findhorn Beach. North Shore, Findhorn, Forres IV36 3YQ. 18-minute drive. A wide golden sand beach that sits alongside the River Findhorn and Kinloss Barracks.
The region that borders the river is home to a number of cafés and restaurants and the shallow water of Findhorn Bay is a haven for windsurfers.
Falconer Museum. Tolbooth St, Forres IV36 1PH. 6-minute drive. A museum in Forres that showcases a number of exhibits from the fields of archaeology, social history, natural history and world heritage.
The building that the museum is housed in is a magnificent example of Victorian architecture.
Nelson’s Tower. 6 Clovenside Rd, Forres IV36 3BT. 8-minute drive. Monument to Admiral Nelson that is set inside thick woodland.
The walk to the monument is quite steep but the climb up the 97 steps to the top of the tower is worth it for the spectacular views across the Moray countryside. The monument is manned by volunteers so is not always open.
Brodie Castle. Brodie, Forres IV36 2TE. 12-minute drive. Restored ancestral family home of the Brodie clan that comprises buildings from the 1500s to the 1800s.
Visitors can explore the castle’s impressive collection of furniture, artworks and ceramics. Externally, there are expansive grounds that are famed for their daffodil displays.
Frequently asked questions
How do I get to Dallas Dhu Distillery?
Address: Mannachie Road, Forres, Morayshire, IV36 2RR
Directions map: Google Maps
How much does it cost to visit Dallas Dhu Distillery?
Visit the HES tickets page for the latest entry prices.
Who owns Dallas Dhu Distillery?
Dallas Dhu distillery has been owned and managed by Historic Environment Scotland since 1992.
It was originally built in 1898 by Alexander Edward.
What visitor facilities are there at Dallas Dhu Distillery?
Disabled toilets, picnic area, shop, car parking, visitor information centre, water bottle refill station, history display.
Visit the HES facilities page for updated information on available facilities.