A long string of different owners followed in rapid succession;
Alexander Conacher & Co., John Conacher & Co, Peter Fraser
& Co., Elizabeth Conacher and P. McKenzie & Co Distillers Ltd.
The distillery was finally closed in 1932 before being purchased
by Arthur Bell & Sons Ltd. in 1933. Although Arthur Bell owned
the distillery, they didn't use it until it was fully rebuilt in 1949.

One more thing: I wrote that Blair Athol was founded in 1789.
Actually, the distillery that was founded on this location was
called 'Aldour', after the Allt Dour burn that still provides the
distillery with its water today. The Gaelic name of the stream
means 'burn of the otter' - hence the picture of an otter on
the label of the Flora & Fauna bottling shown above.

Diageo hasn't opened up all its distilleries
to visitors, but Blair Athol is 'hospitable'.
The tour that the maniacs enjoyed was
excellent; very relaxed yet informative.
The distillery grounds are beautifully laid
out around a gently curving little stream.
The buildings are covered in vines and/or
that typical black fungus that seems to
like whisky almost as much as us maniacs.

Blair Athol was founded in 1798 by John Stewart and Robert
Robertson, making it one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland.
It seems the distillery was closed again not long afterwards,
but in 1825/1826 Blair Athol was revived by John Robertson.

Where to find Blair Athol

Water source:

Blair Athol single malt whisky

Blair Athol  (Pronounced: blair ATHol)
Edradour, Aberfeldy, Dalwhinnie
Allt Dour Burn
2 Wash, 2 Spirit
2,000,000 litres of pure alcohol per year
Diageo > UDV (since 1998)
Pitlochry, Perthshire, PH16 5LY

Blair Athol Distillery Profile

Blair Athol single malt whiskyTrack Record - overview of all single malts and scores
Blair Athol Flora & Fauna

In 1998 owners UD (United Distillers, part
of the well-known Guiness Group) and IDV
(International Distillers and Vintners, part
of the Grand Metropolitan Group) merged
into UDV (United Distillers and Vintners,
part of whisky industry giant Diageo).

Blair Athol 'Over 8yo' (70 Proof, Bells OB, Black Label, Bottled Early 1980's)
Nose: Rich and fruity. Lemon? Developing spices. Organics. A faint but pleasant hint of peat.
Sadly, it drops dead after a minute - it loses quite a few points here after a promising start.
Taste: It felt a tad gritty on the palate with maybe a faint trace of peat. I didn't expect that...
Quite potent with gentle tannins and a dry finish.  Another 'antique' malt with quite a bit of peat.
Score: 79 points - I couldn't go for 'recoomendable, even on the Scottish soil of Glasgow.

Blair Athol 11yo 1989/2000 (58.1%, Cadenhead's Authentic, Bourbon Hogshead, 324 bottles)
Nose: Transparant and dry. Hint of peat? Not as powerful as I expected, to tell you the truth.
There was an explosion of character with five drops of water, but ten more drops killed it.
Taste: Easily drinkable at an otherwise painbtstripping 58.1%. Very pleasant complexity.
A fruity sweetness that remains entertaining for a long time. Yeah, I like this!
Score: 82 points - definitely a recommendable dram.

Blair Athol 12yo (43%, Flora & Fauna, Bottled +/- 1996, code LLIA0001274, 70cl)
Nose: Very 'flavoury', with a growing sweetness. This one needs a minute to open up.
Smoky. Ginger? Red wine? Sweet and sour? A great nose - excellent and elusive.
Taste: Sweet and fruity. A soft start slowly develops into a prolonged explosion.
Nothing really wrong here, but not special enough to warrant a score in the 80's.
Score: 79 points - hold the water, though... This malt is best drank straight.

Blair Athol 13yo 1989/2002 (58.8%, Cadenhead's Authentic, Bourbon, 240 bottles, 06/2002)
Nose: Sweet and spicy at first. Honey sweetness. Very pleasant, but not a lot of depth.
Light organics. Androgynous. It seems the high proof overwhelms any subtleties here.
Taste: Straight, it's sweetish with a faint coffee sensation. Greasy finish - like oatmeal?
Easily drinkable at C/S. Pleasant mouth feel. Not a lot of change after adding some water.
Score: 79 points - a good malt, but like many other Cadenhead's it may be just a bit too strong.
A very high proof can mask flaws in a malt, but it can also overpower the finer nuances.

Blair Athol 18yo 1977 (50.4%, James McArthur)
Nose: The nose was light, sweet and spicy. Mocca. This appealed to me right away.
It opens up further over time, developing some herbal and oily notes. Very pleasant indeed.
Taste: It had a spicy bite on the palate and feels quite 'hot' at 50% - more so than I expected
Woody and chewy (tannins) with some liquorice - I love that. A
tad dry and bitter in the finish.
Score: 82 points - a recommendable dram that loses just one or two points in the finish.

Check out my Track Record for a complete and up-to-date overview of all 'siplings' I've tried.

Blair Athol distillery yard

In 1973 two more stills were added to the existing two and in 1992 Blair Athol was expanded with a visitor centre. Four malt maniacs visited Blair Athol in the summer 2003; in fact it was the very first distillery I visited myself. Read the report about our visit to Blair Athol for some interesting information about this Midlands distillery.    

Blair Athol distillery

I already mentioned that Blair Athol is well worth a visit - at least I think so.
It's conveniently located about half a mile South of the centre of Pitlochry, definitely worthy of a vist itself. In fact, it's a perfect stop on any trip through Scotland, because you can find the
Edradour distillery nearby as well. In the unlikely event that you experience one of Scotland's short spells of nice weather, a walk from Pitlochry to Edradour (+/- five miles) through the hills surrounding the village is a very pleasant experience indeed.
And if you're touring through the Midlands by car,
Aberfeldy isn't that far away either.

Trivia & recent developments: These days bottles of Blair Athol are relatively hard to find.
There are no recent OB's that I know of, although Bells used to release a semi-official bottling in the 1980's.
Two later 'semi-official' bottlings were a 12yo Flora & Fauna released in the 1990's and a 27yo 1975 'Rare Malts'.

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