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Whiskymag 137 July _Aug 2016

North British Grain

Whisky Distillery

North British Distillery History  


In the early 1880's Scottish whisky sales in England rose dramatically as supplies of brandy dried up. The father of blending Andrew Usher & Co appointed agents in all the principle countries of the world as sales rose dramatically. At the same time The Distiller's Company had been formed taking control of the Caledonian Grain Distillery in 1884


One Consequence of the Caledonian merger with DCL was: Several blenders including Andrew Usher became alarmed at DCL’s control of grain whisky production,


To combat this and secure their supplies of grain whisky Andrew and John Usher decided that another grain distillery should be built in Edinburgh


This led to the founding of the North British Distillery Company in Edinburgh with Andrew Usher, (Chairman) William Sanderson ((of Vat 69) Managing Director) and John Crabbie ((of Crabbie,s Green Ginger) Vice Chairman) as the three founders.


Also other famous names in the Scottish whisky industry joined. Amongst the original shareholders: Peter Mackie (White Horse) Johnny Walker; MacKinley; MacDonald & Muir; Dewar; Crawford; Buchanan and Arthur Bell of Perth.


The distillery went into production in September 1887. at a cost of  £142 000 to build and was designed to produce up to 25,000 gallons of spirit per week.


Ten years later  (1897) the North British was producing three million gallons of whisky a year Compared with today's' capacities of up to 14.3 million gallons. Demand for the whisky produced was high and the distillery had sold the following years entire production in advance. It was now the largest and best-equipped distillery in Scotland.


The Distillery installed Scotland’s first Saladin maltings in 1948.


An extensive renovation and update was carried out in 1992.


North British remained independent until 1993 when Lothian Distillers was formed as a 50:50 joint venture between The Edrington Group and International Distillers & Vintners (I.D.V.) with the successful aim to buy out the remaining shareholders. I.D.V. is now part of Diageo.


North British, Edinburgh’s last working distillery, carries out its own malting on site using only maize, with a high percentage of green malt.

The whisky produced contributes to quality blends as: J&B, Famous Grouse, Chivas Regal, Lang's and Cutty Sark.


North British Distillery Bottlings 


No official bottlings


North British Distillery Independent Bottlings 



Clan Denny (Douglas Laing)

Duncan Taylor,

Peerless, Signatory.



North British Single Grain Scotch Whisky

Vintage 1979, 30 years Old. 54.2% 70cl

Clan Denny Single Cask Bottling. Natural strength


tasting note...


This cask refers to a refill butt HH5557.

Discover vanilla tablet with a light smoky character on the nose.


The palate opens oily, with Chinese spices, then a sweet and nutty style develops to caramelised fruit and butter.


The finish is long for a grain whisky with soft sweet spices and orange zest.