town of Oban, also known as the 'Gateway to the Isles',
lies on Scotland's west coast.
According to the labels on some of Oban Bottlings, the
first settlers arrived by sea in 5000 BC, making their
homes in caves in the Cliffside.
The two Stevenson brothers John and Hugh settled in Oban
in 1778 when the town was little more than a fishing
village. The distillery was built in 1794 by Hugh
Stevenson together with some partners and the town soon
grew around it. In 1822 Hugh’s son Thomas Stevenson
became the distillery manager and purchased the other
owners’ shares. Thomas went bankrupt in 1829 but his
oldest son, John, managed to keep the company in the
The distillery was sold to Peter Cumstie in 1866 and
remained in his care until 1883 when it was bought by
Walter Higgins. Higgins renovated the distillery in 1890
and made extensive improvements to both inventories and
buildings. The work involved cutting into the cliff
behind the distillery, which revealed a cave with human
bones and implements. The findings are now on display at
the Scottish Museum of Antiquity.
Higgins sold the distillery in 1898 to a group of
investors; among them Alexander Edward which was the
owner of Aultmore Distillery, and thus the Oban &
Aultmore Distilleries Ltd. was formed. The Oban
Distillery Company Ltd was formed in 1923 when the
Aultmore Distillery was sold to John Dewar & Sons. The
Oban Distillery Ltd. was acquired by the Scottish Malt
Distillers Ltd. in 1930 and was mothballed between 1931
and 1937 due to WW2.
The location of the distillery prevented further
expansion due to limited space and production decreased
gradually until 1969 when the distillery was mothballed.
Production resumed in 1972 when the stillhouse was
rebuilt with a new wash- and spirit still.
In 1998 the Distillers Edition Oban bottling was
launched, which is matured on Montilla sherry casks. It
was awarded a gold medal at the International Wines and
Spirits Competition in 2002.
Distillery takes its water from a loch called Gleann na
Bearricdh which lies 2-3 kilometres up in the hills
behind the town. The malt, which is lightly-peated, is
not made locally, but is delivered by truck from a
central malting company outside of Elgin. The old floor
maltings have been renovated and now houses the visitor
centre. The mash tun is made of stainless steel. The
four wooden washbacks are made from larch and holds 30
000 litres each. The two rather small onion shaped
stills are both swan-necked and steam heated. The whisky
is matured in bourbon and Montilla sherry casks. The
bottling is made outside of Glasgow in Leven, Fife.
Visitors are welcome all year round. Admission is £4 and
is refundable on purchase in the gift shop. Children
under the age of eight are not allowed in the production
area. The last tour commences one hour before closing
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