One of the oldest licensed distilleries in Scotland
Ben Nevis (also ‘Bennevis’ and ‘Benevas’) is located in Inverness-shire and is said to have been founded in 1825 by ‘Long John’ McDonald. After many changes in ownership ‘Ben Nevis Distillery (Fort William) Ltd.’ bought the distillery in 1955 and decided to install a Coffey still for the production of grain whisky as well. When Long John Distillers bought back the Ben Nevis distillery in 1971 they removed the Coffey still again and returned to producing malt whisky exclusively. The Ben Nevis distillery was closed in 1986, purchased by Nikka from Whitbread in 1989 and re-opened in 1991.
In the words of Long John McDonald himself ;
‘There are some who would have you believe that there exists a kind of divine secret, a miraculous ingredient or genius behind the manufacture of Scotch Whisky. I however, acknowledge no miracle other than that which is worked when science and nature combine. The principal ingredients are three, notably water, barley and yeast, with a measure of peat smoke or reek. Of these there can be no doubt water is the foremost. On Ben Nevis I was fortunate to find a constant and consistent source of pure clean water in two small lochans. In order of importance, the second ingredient is barley. This must be clean and plump, fully rounded and quite dry, containing exactly the right amount of protein. Special distiller’s yeast is the third ingredient. This has the texture of dough or putty and is vital to the process of fermentation. And fourthly there is peat, which comes to the whisky through the water passing over peat bogs on its way down the mountain, and from the ‘reek’ from the fire lit during the manufacturing process. Once again, we are fully fortunate in that nature in her magnificence, has created on the hill behind us, an ample supply of peat in our own banks to fuel the fires drying the barley‘
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