distillery was shut down and dismantled in 1983.
The distillery which later would be renamed Brora was
initially called Clynelish and was founded in 1819 by
the Marquis of Stafford, later the first Duke of
Sunderland. The marquis was one of the architects behind
the ‘clearances’ during which tens of thousands of
tenants were evicted from their highland farms. The land
was needed for sheep farming to supply the booming wool
industry. Many of the evicted tenants moved out to the
coastal areas and these families had a hard time making
their living and many of them soon started to illegally
distil whisky to boost their income. In an attempt to
stem this spreading illegal activity, the marquis built
the Clynelish distillery and licensed it so that the
coastal farmers would have a legal market for their
After a few changes of licensees the distillery was
finally sold in 1896 to a Glasgow-based blending company
named James Ainslie & Co. When the blending company went
bankrupt in 1912 the distillery was acquired by a
company jointly owned by a Frenchman named John Risk and
the Distillers Company Ltd (DCL). Risk sold his share to
DCL in 1925.
In 1967 a new distillery was built alongside the
original distillery. The new distillery was named
Clynelish B and the original distillery was called
Clynelish A. Clynelish A was closed in 1968 but was
reopened shortly afterwards because of an increased
demand for whisky by the blending industry. The ‘new’
whisky was produced much smokier than its predecessor.
Because of the dissimilarities of the whiskies from
Clynelish A and B Customs and Excise demanded that the
distilleries should be run as separate entities. As a
result the old distillery, Clynelish A, was closed and
reopened in 1975 under the name of Brora Distillery.
Brora Distillery was closed in 1983 due to the recession
and today its buildings are used as warehouses and as a
visitor centre for its still active sister –the
Brora whisky has been bottled as a single malt whisky by
several independent bottlers and is still quite easy to
find although prices are increasing. There are also some
official 30 year old bottlings available from the years
2002, 2003 and 2004.
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