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Our Heritage

Our founder, John Hopkins discovered a unique spot, in the heart of Speyside, ideal for making exceptionally smooth whisky. The region was already famous for its whisky however what John Hopkins brought to Speyside was an innovative spirit and the determination to do things right.
Explore our Heritage

The Granty Burn

While hunting for the perfect spot for his distillery, Hopkins discovered the Granty Burn - an untouched stream hidden in a secluded Speyside valley. He knew that the exceptionally pure water of this burn would produce a remarkable whisky with a naturally refreshing character. Hopkins trusted his intuition and built the Speyburn distillery right there in the glen, using authentic river stones from the bed of the fast-flowing River Spey itself. Over 100 years after its founding, Speyburn remains the only distillery to use the pure, crystal-clear water of the Granty Burn.

Building in the valley came with its own challenges

Set in a steep valley with limited space, the distillery had to be built vertically over three levels with layered mesh drying floors if it was to fit into the narrow space. So, Charles C. Doig, the world famous distillery designer and innovator, designed an entirely new shape of distillery. Doig’s hand can also be seen in the Pagoda style roof that breaches the tops of our trees. Doig himself invented this design to create an even airflow over the grains as they dried. It has become an iconic symbol of a traditional approach.

As it turned out Hopkins was a man of his word

On the last night of the year, Hopkins and his team toiled through a storm of Arctic proportions to craft a whisky in time to toast the Queen’s Jubilee. Determined that their first bottle would bear the year 1897 on its label, the men battled against the elements wearing overcoats and mufflers to protect them from the freezing snow. After hours of hard work and with heroic efforts of his distillery men, Hopkins finally triumphed and was rewarded with the first barrel of Speyburn whisky.

Speyburn is Speyside

120 years since distilling our first drop, Speyburn is now more than a whisky. Bold, bright and full of character, our Speyside single malts are as inspiring to newcomers as they are to seasoned whisky enthusiasts, allowing everyone, everywhere to enjoy the beautiful simplicity of Speyside. Today we are proud to symbolise all that is special about this great region.

 To celebrate Speyside, we currently offer a range of expressions. Whichever Speyburn offering is selected, you can expect to enjoy the classic taste of Speyside in every dram. After all, Speyburn is Speyside.

Key moments

1897

Speyburn Distillery founded by John Hopkins

1897 saw Queen Victoria celebrating the 60th year of her reign and John Hopkins, never one to let a good celebration go to waste, set himself a big challenge. He said he would build a distillery and craft a whisky in time to toast the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee . No one believed it was possible, but that didn’t matter to John Hopkins - his instincts told him otherwise.

1897 cont.

First spirit put into cask in December to mark Queen’s Jubilee

Production began on 1st November 1897 however after a few false starts; it wasn’t until Christmas Day that the team were successful in distilling their first drop. Then on the last night of the year, the men battled through the ice and snow to ensure the cask was placed in the dunnage warehouse, just in time to toast the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

1916

Distillery sold to The Distillers Company Limited

By 1916, Speyburn had become an undeniable success. But Hopkins was never one to stay put. Knowing that it was time for the spirit to take the next step in its journey to greatness, he sold the distillery to The Distillers Company Limited.

1939

Distillery temporarily closed and used to house the Scottish Artillery Regiments

Troubling times force us to make decisions, and to reveal our true selves. That’s why, 1939 saw the Speyburn distillery shut down. No matter what the cost, it had to play its part in the war effort. For the duration of the war, the distillery was to be home to the Scottish Artillery Regiments.

1947

Distillery reopened for production after Second World War

It was not long after the war ended in 1947 that the distillery went back into action. It was time for new beginnings, new paths to carve out and a new legacy to build. But for all that had changed, the one thing that remained was the spirit of Speyburn, the belief that greatness comes from following your instincts.

1950

A tractor replaced the distillery’s horse & cart

The year 1950 saw a revolution at the distillery, with tyre tracks replacing hoof marks. Even though it was tradition, the distillers knew that it was time to move from horse and cart to tractor. As a result, the distillery was able to transport coal, barley and casks more efficiently than ever before.

1962

Two stills converted from coal-fired to indirect steam heating

Another bold decision was made in 1962, when the classic coal-fired stills were replaced with a system using indirect steam heating. It meant venturing into new territory and taking a step onto a new path. Of course, it also meant being rewarded with an even better spirit. Trusting their instincts had once more paid off for the distillery.

1967

Innovative drum maltings ceased operation

Even the best of things come to an end. 1967 saw Speyburn retire the legendarily innovative drum maltings that had become a symbol of the spirit. While the past was something to be celebrated, what lay ahead was more exciting.

1992

Speyburn Distillery sold onto current owners Inver House Distillers

In 1992, Inver House Distillers and Speyburn Distillery joined forces and since have been carving out their path together ever since.

2014

Expansion work takes place to double distillery production capacity

The incredible amount of interest from consumers was the only proof Speyburn needed to know that they had chosen the right path. And to further share Speyburn with the world, the distillery began expansion work in 2014 to double production capacity.

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