Founded in 1897 by John Grant, George Sellar and Alexander Mackenzie originally as the Strathspey distillery, the name Dahlwinnie is known by many single malt scotch whisky enthusiasts as a mark of consistent quality.
Dalwhinnie is located 326 meters (1057 feet) above sea water, making it the highest distillery in Scotland. Despite the height, the location was chosen due to ample access to energy resources, simple logistics for product transport and, most importantly, the water of high purity supplied by the Lochan an Doirre-uaine high in the mountains.
Due to lackluster sales caused by a recession that hit the industry, the distillery was quickly sold, becoming the property of A.P. Blyth in 1889 who named the business Dalwhinnie. This situation would not last however with the distillery being sold in 1905 to American based Cook & Bernheimer. At the time, this was the only scotch distillery owned by an American business and many feared that the industry would be taken over by the US. Dalwhinnie however saw it as an opportunity to begin distributing their product in the US market.
The industry's fears were later put to rest with the establishment of US prohibition in 1920. With this change the distillery was once again sold, this time being sold to Lord James Calder, a Scot who was also shareholder of Macdonald Greenlees - a prominent whisky blender.
Unfortunately, Macdonald Greenlees was acquired by Distillers Company Ltd in 1926, where the whisky was used extensively in blended scotch, particularly Black & White - a partnership that continues to this day. The shuffling continued however, and in 1930 Dalwhinnie found itself owned by Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd.
Despite the uncertainties in ownership, the distillery continued production uninterrupted until 1934 when a severe fire destroyed much of the business's buildings and equipment. Production was ceased while extensive restoration work was conducted. Work was completed in 1939, however due to restrictions on barley use due to World War II production did no recommence until the war ended.
After the war, sales increased steadily, and to cope with supply demands and increase efficiency the distillery underwent refurbishment in the 1960s. The distiller produced its first single malt which rapidly grew in recognition and reputation substantially in 1988 when it became one of classic malts series released by Scottish Malt Distillers (which was now called United Distillers and owned by GrandMet.
The increase in sales once again necessitated a refurbishment of the distillery, causing the facility to be closed between 1992 to 1995.
With the merger between GrandMet with Guiness the brand became property of Diageo which continues to distribute it is a leading member of the classic malts series. Despite this focus, only 10% of scotch production is bottled as single malt, the remainder used in blending.
Unlike many distilleries, Dalwhinnie has only released two bottlings of its scotch. The first, Dalwhinnie 15 Years Old has been described as having a sweet, fruity aroma with a light taste that is very easy to drink.
The other edition from this fine distillery is Dalwhinnie 29 Years Old. Described as having a peaty nose combined with a lemon and mint taste, the scotch achieved a score of 8 from the highly respected Whisky Magazine.
Dalwhinnie has also been known to release limited editions of their scotch, such as the 1985 Distillers Edition that is currently in high demand within collectors.