Blair Athol is one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland as it was founded way back in 1798 by John Stewart and Robert Robertson. However, it was initially opened not as Blair Athol but ‘Aldour’ instead. The name came from the local burn which provided the distillery with water. The Aldour distillery did not last long though and closed only a few years into production. The distillery was then reopened and enlarged by a John Robertson in 1825, who renamed the distillery Blair Athol. The name came from a local village situated just North of the distillery.
In 1886 Blair Athol became part of the Peter Mackenzie blending house and ran successfully until the economic issues of the early to mid 1900’s and World War II. In 1932 the distillery was mothballed and remained that way until 1949. During this period of inactivity however, Arthur Bell 7 Sons acquired Mackenzie.
Production began again in 1949 providing the lion share of Scotch for Bell’s blend, which by the 1970’s was becoming the UK’s best-selling blended Scotch. Due to this the distillery was doubled in size to keep up with increased demands and after was purchased by Guinness, who then later became a part of Diageo.
During the 1980’s Bell’s attempted to branch out into the then infant single malt market with an 8-year-old bottling however, that is no longer available, and the only official bottling is a 12-year-old from the Flora & Fauna collection. The majority of single malts coming from Blair Athol are from independent bottlers and these expressions show the distilleries true Highland character.
The scotch produced at Blair Athol is known to be nutty and strong with the single malts having a distinct sweetness. The sweetness is achieved by maturing the Scotch in ex-Sherry casks. A lot of the Scotch produced at Blair Athol goes to Bell’s blend and is therefore matured in European oak casks. This particular cask marries sweetness and spices with the malt.