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Whiskymag 137 July _Aug 2016

Coleburn Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Speyside  Distillery 1897-1983

Coleburn Distillery History


Closed in 1985, the distillery licence was cancelled in 1992


Unlikely to reopen, the distillery has been dismantled and is up for sale


The Coleburn distillery buildings are located four miles south of Elgin, between the Glen Elgin and Speyburn distilleries, in a valley between the A491 and a now disused railway line (1966),  


At one time the distillery had its own railway link allowing goods to be delivered and whisky taken away directly from the buildings.


John Robertson & Sons, blenders from Dundee, founded the Coleburn distillery in 1896 with a construction date of 1897. However the distillery was not finished until 1899. For some obscure reasons there were two problems recorded that delayed completion.


The problems faced by the architect Charles Doig were; the provision for a lavatory to the excise office – it took a mere 18 months to resolve this? Furthermore the excise officer's house took even longer to be completed.

During the early years the distillery carried out several successful experiments into the purification of the effluents produced by whisky distilling. The processes developed at Coleburn were utilised by a number of other distilleries.


In 1916 the Clynelish Distillery Co Ltd purchased Coleburn, however in 1925 Clynlish and Coleburn was taken over by Distillers Company Limited.


From 1930 on Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd as part of the Distillers Company Limited managed it, which in turn became part of Diageo.


At some point the licensee became J & G Stewart, as part of DCL, they were best known for their famous "Andrew Usher" blends so Coleburn contributed to Usher’s blends. The whisky was also used in Johnnie Walker "Red Label".


The distillery was refurbished at some point in the 1950's and again in the 1960's. The stills were converted from open coal firing to internal steam heating. The Worm Tub was changed to condensers. Also during that period, the mash house was rebuilt.


In 1968 the maltings were closed and while Coleburn survived the first big wave of distillery closings in 1983, it couldn't escape its fate any longer and two years later closed. in 1985.  


While the buildings supposedly are still in good condition, Coleburn is unlikely to ever produce whisky again because in 1992 J & G Stewart Ltd (of United Distillers) cancelled the license.


Diageo did offer Coleburn in its Rare Malt Selection in 2000 as a 21year old at cask strength of 59,4%. Apart from this there has not been a standard distillery bottling.


Independent bottlings are rare and hard to come by. These have been by Gordon & MacPhail as part of the Connoisseur's Choice series, as well as by Cadenhead, Douglas Laing, Signatory and McKillop's Choice.


Coleburn Single Malt Scotch Whisky Distillery Bottlings


Coleburn Single Malt Scotch Whisky 21 year old Rare Malt Selection


Tasting Notes


Colour: Pale Gold


Its peaty leafy nose introduces a light, smooth body. Some pepper appears on the palate, with mint toffee flavours.


The finish is, most unusually for a Speyside malt, medicinal becoming hot and spicy.



Coleburn Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Independent Bottlings  



Connoisseur Choice (Gordon & MacPhail),

McKillops Choice,

Old Malt Cask (Douglas Laing),


Founded in 1896 by John Robertson & Sons

Location Speyside region, Lossie District Longmorn

Water Source Local Spring

Distillery Dismantled

Coleburn Distillery,



IV38 8GN

Now Dismantled

Coleburn 21yo Rare Malts Selection Whisky BUY WHISKY NOW BUY WHISKY NOW