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Ben Nevis

Whisky Collection Bar > B
26 years old
Distilled 1972
Cask No. 602
Bottled 1998
205 bottles
Ben Nevis Distillery
(Fort William) Limited

BEN NEVIS        
8 years old
43 %        
Distilled 14.12.90
Bottled 2.3.99
Matured in a sherry butt
Butt No. 1376
775 bottles
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

BEN NEVIS        
8 years old
43 %          
Distilled 14.12.90
Matured in a sherry butt
Butt No. 1379
Bottled 21.7.99
948 bottles
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

BEN NEVIS         
14 years old
Date distilled Dec 84
Date bottled Sept 99
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
Code 78.25
van The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh.
'Paints and sultanas'

BEN NEVIS         
21 years old
60,5 %       
Distilled 1974
Bottled 1995
182 bottles
Ben Nevis Distillery (Fort William) Limited

BEN NEVIS         
26 years old
50,8 %   
Distilled 1973
Cask Nos 355 & 356
Bottled 1999
400 bottles
Ben Nevis Distillery
(Fort William) Limited

BEN NEVIS         
26 years old
59 %
Distilled 1966
Ben Nevis Distillery
(Fort William) Limited

BEN  NEVIS        
16 years old

Cask Strenght
Distilled December 1977
Bottled December 1993
No colouring
Not diluted
No chill filtration
Wm. Cadenhead,
32 Unionstreet, Campbeltown

BEN NEVIS         
10 years old
Distilled 22.10.92
Cask No. 3313
Bottled October 2002
Non chill filtered
Thistle, Holland

BEN NEVIS         
9 years old
58.8 %     INFO       
Date distilled Jun 91
Date bottled Oct 00
Society Cask No. code 78.30
Outturn 234 bottles
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
'Aero Vaseline and grapefruit'

BEN NEVIS         
46 %   
Proprietors Ben Nevis Distillery
(Fort William) Limited.
Lochy Bridge, Fort William
The Journey of the Water of Life.

BEN NEVIS         
36 years old
50 %          
Single Cask Bottling
Distilled December 1964
Bottled March 2001
156 bottles
No Chill Filtration
No Colouring
Douglas Laing & Co, Ltd, Glasgow

BEN NEVIS        
26 years old
50,3 %
Distilled 1973
Bottled 1999
Cask No. 717
233 bottles
Ben Nevis Distillery (Fort William) Limited

BEN NEVIS         
35 years old
50.1 %  

A Rare Vintage Bottling
Distilled April 1967
Matured in Sherry wood
Bottled 2002
Hart Brothers Limited

26 years old
53,2 %             
Distilled in 1973
Cask No. 750
Bottled in 1999
Ben Nevis Distillery (Fort William) Limited

26 years old
Distilled in 1975
Cask No. 945
Bottled in 2001
237 bottles
Genummerde flessen
Ben Nevis Distillery (Fort William) Limited

over 39 years old
Vintage Single Highland Malt
Scotch Whisky

Brenndatum: März 1966
Fass: Sherry Butt
Fassnummer: 1775
Abfülldatum: Oktober 2005
Anzahl der Flaschen: 180
Nummerierte Flaschen
Nicht kühl- gefiltert
Whisky Abfuller:
Hart Brothers Ltd, Glasgow

13 years old
61,6 %         

Single West Highland Malt Whisky
Distilled on 9th November 1990
Filled into refill hogsheads
Transferred into a
port bodega butt number 03/10/01
on 12th February 2003
Bottled 10th March 2004
800 Numbered Bottles
Ben Nevis Distillery (Fort William) Ltd.
Lochy Bridge, Fort William.

Aged 7 years
43 %
LAST  BOTTLE  AND  EMPTY            
Distilled: 1998
Bottled: 2005
Exclusively Bottled by Duncan Taylor & Co,
Huntly, Aberdeenshire

BEN  NEVIS          
14 years old
46 %
Single Highland Malt

Distilled: 03/07/92
Matured in a Sherry Butt
Cask no: 2302
Bottled: 25/04/07
Numbered Bottles
Natural Colour
Non Chillfiltered
The Ultimate Whisky Company, NL

25  years old  
56.0 %    INFO   
Distilled in December 1984
Cask No: 98 / 35 / 1
Vatted in Sherry Casks in October 1998
Bottled in January 2010
628 Numbered Bottles
Non - Chillfiltered
Ben Nevis Distillery (Fort  .

1 9 8 4              
Aged  25 years  
55,4 %
Distilled in December 1984
First filled into freshly dumped bourbon barrels
on 20th December 1984 and continued to
mature in these casks for almost 14 years until
on 14th October 1998 the whisky was vatted
transferred into freshly dumped sherry butts.
Maturation continued in these casks until this
particular cask was bottled in 2010 as a 25 Years
Old single west highland malt scotch whisky,
which we hope you will enjoy.
Vatted in sherry casks in October 1998
Cask No. 98 / 35 / 13
Bottled in may 2010
638 Numbered Bottles
Non - Chill Filtered
Ben Nevis Distillery (Fort Williams) Limited
Lochy Bridge, Fort William.
SIGNATORY  VINTAGE  SCOTCH  WHISKY                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
Distilled on 14.12.90                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
Matured in a Sherry Butt                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
Butt No. 1376                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
Bottled 2.3. 99                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
Numbered Bottles                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
775 Bottles                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
This whisky has been selected, produced                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
and bottled in Scotland for and under the sole                                                               
responsibility of Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
15 years old  
51,7 %                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
Single Cask Highland  Single Malt                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
Scotch Whisky                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
Bottling numbered by hand                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
Bottled in September 2012                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
Distilled in October 1996                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
This single malt from the Ben Nevis Distillery                                                                                                                                                              
was filled into a fresh sherry cask, number                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
1654 on 28th October 1996                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
The whisky was then left to mature in this                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
cask in Duty - Free Warehouse No. 3 for a                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
period of 15 years when it was considered                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
ready for bottling at cask strength, un - chill                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
filtered in September 2012                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
523 Bottles                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
Ben Nevis Distillery, (Fort William) Limited                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
Lochy Bridge, Fort William
46 %
1 9 9 2
Matured for 21 years                              
Highland Single Malt

Distilled: 03/07/92
Matured in a Sherry Butt
Cask no: 2312
Bottled: 16/08/13
695 Numbered Bottles
Natural Colour
Non Chill Filtered
Selected by The Ultimate Whisky company.NL

Established 1825
15  years old  
57.3 %                                                
Distilled 23rd  June 1998
Matured in Sherry Cask No. 590 of 1998
Bottled in May 2014
Bottling numbered by hand
582 Numbered Bottles
Bottle No: 115
This single malt from Ben Nevis Distillery was filled into a fresh sherry butt, number 590
On 23 rd June 1998. The whisky was then left to mature in this cask in Duty - Free
Warehouse No. 3 for a period of 15 years when it was considered ready for bottling at
cask strength, un - chill filtered, in May 2014.
Product of Scotland
Ben Nevis Distillery (Fort William) Limited,
Lochy Bridge, Fort William

Established 1825          
21  years old  
59.8 %                                                                                                                                             
Distilled November 1990
Initially this cask, produced in November 1990
was filled into refill hogsheads at 72.5 % vol.
After 13 years the contents of these casks were
vatted then filled into port bodega butts
This particular cask was then allowed to continue
maturing for a further 8 years to allow this whisky
to languish in this new home and to draw and
absorb some of the unique characteristics from
the cask creating this different slant on Ben Nevis
single malt whisky.
Matured in a Port Bodega Butt No. 3/10/4
As this is a more mature Ben Nevis Malt we felt it
worthy of releasing some 200 in a crystal decanter
and two glasses boxed presentation set with the
remaining 625 in what is coming to be recognized
as our Ben Nevis malt bottle
Bottled in September 2012
Bottling numbered by hand
825 Numbered Bottles
Bottle No: 662
This single malt from Ben Nevis Distillery was filled into a fresh sherry butt, number 590
On 23 rd June 1998. The whisky was then left to mature in this cask in Duty - Free
Warehouse No. 3 for a period of 15 years when it was considered ready for bottling at
cask strength, un - chill filtered, in May 2014.
Product of Scotland
Ben Nevis Distillery (Fort William) Limited,
Lochy Bridge, Fort William
Colin W. Ross, Distillery Manager

Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Aged 26 years
57.3 %
Signatory Vintage
Cask Strenght Collection
Distilled: 05/07/1991
Matured in a Sherry Butt
Cask No: 2377
Bottled: 30/11/2017
599 Bottles
Bottle No: 483
Natural Colour
Casks individually selected and bottled
by Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky Co,


Fort William, Inverness-shire. Licentiehouder: Ben Nevis Distillery (Fort William) Ltd. Eigendom van The Nikka Whisky Distilling Co, Ltd, Japan.
Gebouwd in 1825 door 'Long John' Macdonald, een voor die tijd heel grote man van 1.93 meter, afstammeling van de koningen van Argyll, dat de Westelijke Hoog- en Eilanden omvatte.

Het was de eerste legale distilleerderij in dit gebied. Hij noemde zijn whisky 'Long John's Dew of Ben Nevis',eerst uitgebracht als een single malt whisky, later omstreeks 1906 als een blended whisky.

In 1848 bezocht Koningin Victoria Fort William en bij die gelegenheid kreeg zij een vat Ben Nevisaangeboden die aangeslagen mocht worden wanneer de Prins van Wales, de latere koning Edward VII, meerderjarig werd, dat was vijftien jaar later.

'Long John' Macdonald stierf in 1856 en werd opgevolgd door zijn zoon Donald Peter, die zo succesvol was dat hij een tweede distilleerderij kon bouwen, de Glen Nevis, die vele jaren in produktie was maar in 1908 werd gesloten.

Donald Peter werd opgevolgd door zijn zoons John en Archibald William die in 1911 het merk 'Long John',dat was de blend, verkochten aan Chaplin's van Tower Hill, een firma die han­delde in gin en wijn.

In 1936 werd deze firma door de in 1805 gestichtte Seager, Evans & Co, Ltd, gin producen­ten te Londen, overgenomen. Seager Evans had de eerste stap in deSchotse whiskyindustrie in 1927 gezet met het bouwen van de Strathclyde graan distilleerderij.

In 1936 kocht men Glenugie, toen de meest oostelijk gelegen distilleerderij.

In 1953 werden de beperkingen op het maken van whisky door de regering afgeschaft en een overname- en uitbreidingsgolf was het gevolg.

In 1955 werd Ben Nevis overgenomen door Joseph W. Hobbs, die een vermogen had verdiend en verloren door whisky te smokkelen tijden de Amerikaanse drooglegging, vanuit Canada.

Hij was in 1930 teruggekeerd naar Schotland en met hulp van Amerikaanse partners kocht hij Bruichladdich, Glenury Royal, Glenlochy, North Esk, (Old) Fettercairn, Benromach en Strath-dee.

De bedoeling was om na beëindiging van de drooglegging Schotse whisky te gaan leveren in de Verenigde Staten.
In Ben Nevis instaleerde hij, evenals in Lochside een patent still, om graanwhisky te pro­duceren. Dit was in de jaren zestig.
Hij blendde de malt- en graanwhisky meteen nadat ze waren gedistilleerd, hij noemde deze werkwijze 'blending at birth'.
De uitkomst was gevarieerd en niet altijd van gelijke kwaliteit.
Joseph W. Hobbs kocht ook Inverlochy Castle,begon een enorme veefarm in Amerikaanse stijl kompleet met cowboys. Na zijn dood ging Inverlochy Castle dienst doen als luxe hotel.

Ben Nevis lies on land since 1929 owned by an Australian aluminium smelter Rio Tinto Alcan Inc and in 1950 sold  to G.F.G. Alliance a Canadian group
founded by the British Gupta Family. The Alliance's integrated business model encompasses mining, energy, metalls and engoneering.

A 99 year lease exists and Ben Nevis can also produce for an other 30 years their whisky.

Joseph W. Hobbs had zijn belangen in de Schotse whiskyindustrie intussen verkocht.

Schenley Industries uit de Verenigde Staten nam Seager Evans & Co Ltd over en in 1957 werd Kinclaith, een malt distilleerderij naast de Strathclyde graandistilleerderij gebouwd, in 1957 The Tormore en in 1962 werd een 25 % belang genomen in Laphroaig, gevolgd door de ge­hele overname in 1972.

In 1969 toen er weer een recessie heerste in de whiskyindustrie beperkten de Strathclyde-, Kinclaith-, Glenugie-, The Tormore- en Laphroaigdistilleerderijen hun produktie. In 1969 werd de Glen Alden Corporation, de eigenaar van Schenley Industries overgenomen door Rapid American Incoporated.

In 1971 veranderde Seager Evans & Co Ltd zijn naam in Long John International Ltd. In 1975 wordt Long John overgenomen door de bierbrouwers Whitbread. Kinclaith werd ontmanteld in 1975.

In 1981 wordt Ben Nevis gekocht en werd het merk 'Long John' weer herenigd met de distil­leerderij Ben Nevis. Glenugie werd ontmanteld in 1985, de patent still werd verwijderd bij Ben Nevis en in 1986 werd Ben Nevis gesloten.            

In 1988 koopt Nikka Whisky Distillery Company, Japan Ben Nevis.

Ook dit is een geschiedenis op zichzelf: in haar boek: Japanese Whisky, Scotch Blend be­schrijft Olive Checkland de band tussen de familie Nikka en Schotland.
Na de eerste wereldoorlog bezocht Masataka Taketsuru Schotland, studeerde aan de univer­siteit van Glasgow, werkte bij enige distilleerderij en, Hazelburn en Longmorn.
Hij werd verliefd op een Schotse, Rita Cowen, en keerde in 1920 naar Japan terug met de bedoeling een eigen distilleerderij te stichten.
Toen Matataka Taketsuru in 1979 stierf liet hij een bedrijf na, dat onder de leiding van zijh geadopteerde zoon, Takeshi Taketsuru in 1989 Ben Nevis kocht.
Er werd enorm geïnvesteerd, onder andere in een bezoekerscentrum.
In 1990 wordt Ben Nevis weer opgestart. Ook in 1990 verkoopt Whitbread The Tormore en Laphroaig aan Allied Dostillers Ltd.

Het produktiewater komt van de Allt a' Mhuilinn, die zijn water krijgt van twee kleine meertjes in Coire Leisen Coire na Ciste op de berg Ben Nevis.
Ben Nevis heeft vier met stoom verhitte ketels met een produktiecapaciteit van 750 liter spirit per jaar.
Onder de leiding van Colin Ross, de distilleerderij manager zijn vaten met whisky, gedis­tilleerd tussen 1984 en 1986 overgestoken op nieuwe sherry- en bourbonvaten. Elk jaar worden vijf tot zeven vaten met whiskies van 19 tot 26 jaar op vatsterkte gebotteld. De standaard malt is tien jaar oud.

Het water komt van twee bronnen: Coire an Ciste en Coire Leis op de Ben Nevis.
De Mash tun is 9,5 ton.
De zes Wash backs zijn elk 50.000 liter.
De twee Wash stills zijn elk 25.000  liter, de twee Spirit stills elk 20.000 liter en worden door middel van spiralen met stoom verhit.
De capaciteit is 500.000 liter spirit per jaar.
Gesticht door 'Long' John McDonald            
Koningin Victoria bezoekt de distilleerderij            
'Long' John McDonald sterft        
Zijn  zoon Donald P. McDonald volgt
hem op            
Er wordt een tweede distilleerderij
naast de 'oude' gebouwd: Nevis            
de twee distilleerderijen worden
D.P. McDonalds & Sons wordt verkocht
aan Ben Nevis Distillery Ltd,
Eigendom van Joseph W. Hobbs, die bezig
was een keten van
distilleerderijen in Schotland op te kopen,
om van de te verwachtte vraag naar         
whisky, na de oorlog, te profiteren    
Hobbs had al eerder  Glenesk, Glenury Royal,
Bruichladdich gekocht         
Installatie van een kontinue ketel: naast malt
kan er nu ook
grain whisky worden geproduceerd.     
Hetzelfde zou een paar jaar later ook bij Lochside
Hobbs koopt Lochside distillery         
Hobbs sterft, en de produktie stopt            
Joseph Hobbs Jr verkoopt Ben Nevis aan
Long John International, toen het eigendom
van de bierbrouwers Whitbread     
Ben Nevis weer opgestart na een verbouwing
van £ 2 miljoen          
Ben Nevis sluit           
Nikka Whisky Distilling Company Ltd, wordt
de eigenaar          
Ben Nevis opgestart           
Bezoekerscentrum wordt geopend           
Ben Nevis 10 years old geïntroduceerd       
Manager (2005) is Colin Ross
De kapaciteit is 2.000.000 liter spirit per jaar
A 13 year Port Wood Finish is released
A 25 year old is released
McDonald's Traditional Ben Nevis is
Forgotten Bottlings are introduced
A 40 year old Blended by Birth Single
Blend is released
Ben Nevis 10 year old Batch No.1 is
Capacity: 2.000.000 Ltrs
Output: 1.960.000 Ltrs
+ 40.000 Ltrs  made from
heavily peated barley

Shipping magnate. Naval veteran. Bootlegger. Cattle rancher. Joseph Hobbs was all of these things – and, to boot, one of the leading lights of the 20th centuryScotch whisky industry.
Joseph Hobbs was one of whisky's most colourful characters

Some said he shot down a Zeppelin during the First World War. Others insisted that he built Canada’s tallest skyscraper, and that he was a bootlegger during Prohibition in the US. There was even a rumour that he smuggled guns into Spain during the Civil War…

Joseph William Hobbs was the ‘Great Gatsby’ of theScotch whisky world: everyone had a story about him, but his past was clouded in mystery. Who was he? Where did he come from? And how did this whisky industry outsider acquire the business contacts required to become one of Scotland’s leading distillery owners?

Only sketchy details exist of Josephs early years. It seems that he was born in Hampshire in 1891, and emigrated with his family to farm 480 acres in British Columbia. During the First World War, he returned to the UK and served in the Royal Navy aboard a destroyer, before becoming an airman. After the war, he joined the Canadian naval reserve with the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

There is a story that Josephs found work as a salesman for Gilbey’s during the 1920s, but the evidence for his involvement in the drinks business is somewhat hazy. Except, that is, for his involvement in the shipment of Scotch and other spirits to

As president of shipping company Hobbs Brothers Ltd,Joe owned the cargo ship Lillehorn, the sleek steam yacht Stadacona and a fleet of smaller vessels such as the Naden and the   Hurryon which were involved in running booze into California during Prohibition.

The ships were often given unpronounceable new names, such as Kuyakuzmt, to confuse the US authorities, and they were involved in the transport of many hundreds of thousands of cases of whisky and other contraband to the California during the 1920s.

The liquid cargoes were not only shipped from Canada and Mexico. Geoffrey Cousins’ official history of William Teacher & Sons recounts how, during the 1920s, the Scottish firm sent tens of thousands of cases of Teacher’s Highland Cream in quart bottles to Antwerp, where they were loaded on to the Lillehornand shipped via the Panama Canal to the west coast of the US.
The whisky was then transferred from the mother ship to speedboats and other small vessels, and smuggled ashore for distribution to local bootleggers – the standard modus operandi adopted by Hobbs for delivering his shipments to Californian customers.  

Prohibition-era America
Joseph Hobbs made a fortune from bootlegging during Prohibition
No-one knows how much money Joe made from his whisky ‘re-exportation’ business during the 1920s, but we do know that he had other, more respectable commercial interests.
For example, he was vice-president of a Toronto firm of stockbrokers, G. A Stimson. That firm was involved in one of the most spectacular Canadian building projects of the 1920s, raising the finance for the construction of the famous art deco Marine Building in downtown

When it opened in 1930, the Marine Building was the highest skyscraper in the British Commonwealth.Unfortunately, its opening coincided with the onset of the Great Depression and it proved almost impossible to fill the building with commercial tenants. Stimson & Cowent bust in 1933; Hobbs lost a fortune, and the precocious entrepreneur had to look to pastures new

After the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, American companies rushed to secure supplies of Scotch to import legally to the US. Hobbs and two partners, Hatim Attari and Alexander Tolmie, set up Associated Scottish Distillers (ASD) to help them out. The new firm worked closely with Train & McIntyre, a Scotchwhisky company that had recently become a subsidiary of the American conglomerate, National Distillers.

In 1936, ASD acquired Glenury Royal Distillery in Stonehaven, buying Glenlochy and Bruichladdich a year later. Glenesk, Fettercairn and Benromach were added in 1938, and Train & McIntyre transferredStrathdee to ASD’s management. Glenesk was converted to a grain distillery (renamed Montrose) that year, to ensure supplies of grain whisky that were independent of the dominant player in the grain whisky market, The Distillers Company Ltd.

Under Joseph Hobbs leadership, ASD had become a major force in the Scotch whisky world, and supplied vast quantities of blended Scotch for the US market. Unfortunately, the outbreak of the Second World Warin 1939 led to shortages and disruption to production, and the firm was unable to exploit its assets to the full. After the war, the group was broken up, and National Distillers sold Train & McIntyre to DCL in 1953.

Undaunted by the stalling of his latest whisky venture, Hobbs returned to the fray after the war. He was convinced that large multinational companies such asDCL, Seagram and Hiram Walker were working to establish a cartel, to drive entrepreneurs like him out of the Scotch whisky business. Much of the rest of his life was spent in challenging the might of these industry giants.

Hobbs like some others, feared that the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) was dominated by the multinationals and no longer represented the interests of small independent firms. In 1952 he was the driving force in the formation of the Independent Scotch Whisky Association, a rival trade organisation which, under his charismatic chairmanship, became a thorn in the side of the SWA. At the same time, he set out to re-establish a business that was not reliant on fillings from the industry’s giants.

First, he returned to the acquisition trail. During the 1930s, he had set up a company called Macnab Distilleries as a vehicle to acquire and operate the Glen Mavis Distillery. The sale fell through, but Hobbs kept the company name. In 1955, Macnab Distilleries acquired the Ben Nevis Distillery, once associated with the famous Long John brand.

Hobbs installed a Coffey still and began making both single malts and grain whiskies there. He claimed that by blending his whiskies on site, and allowing them to marry for long periods in the wood in his warehouses, he was able to produce superior blended Scotch to those of his competitors.

In 1956, Macnab Distilleries purchased the Lochside Brewery in Montrose, and Joseph Hobbs built a grain and a malt whisky distillery on the premises. Once again, he was able to make, blend and bottle his own whiskies, without relying on any other company for fillings. His was a truly independent whisky company.

Hobbs was not only famous in Scotland as a whisky baron. In 1944, he bought the grand Inverlochy Castle and its vast estates in Inverness-shire. He captured the imagination of schoolboys all over the country when he set up the Great Glen Cattle Ranchthere, and brought cowboys to the Highlands.

He retained his love of the sea, and his steam yacht Torlundy (an old landing craft which he converted after the Second World War) became well-known along theWest Coast of Scotland. A later acquisition, the Ocean Mist, was acquired a few years before his death in 1963. It is now serving as a floating restaurant in Leith.

There is no evidence that Hobbs was ever involved in gun-running, so only one question remains: did he really shoot down a Zeppelin?
The answer is no: that was the other Hobbs boy. Joe’sbrother Basil shot down the airship near Folkestone, and he was also credited with the sinking of two German U-Boats during the First World War. But that’s another story of another great character in the history of the whisky trade…

‘Long John’ McDonald was a giant of a man, andgiant of the Scotch whisky trade, in which – with his son Donald – he established one of the world’s most famous single malts.

The McDonalds used commercial stunts to promote Ben Nevis whisky
Ben Nevis distillery was famous in Victorian times as the home of Long John’s Dew of Ben Nevis, one of the best-known brands of Highland single malt Scotch whisky. Although the eponymous ‘Long John’ was not the founder of the business, he and his son Donald were the men who made it famous.

The distillery was built by Angus McDonnell in 1825 on the banks of the River Lochy, just outside Fort William at the foot of Britain’s highest mountain. He started making whisky there in February 1826, and production amounted to around 200 gallons a week. Some writers believe that he was a kinsman of ‘Long John’ McDonald (1799-1856), and that the latter may have worked for him at the distillery.

We know for certain that Long John became a partner in the business in 1830 and bought Angus McDonalds remaining stake for the large sum of £1,200 the following year.
As his nickname suggests, the new owner was a big man: reputedly 6ft 4in tall and powerfully built. One author described him as ‘a happy Hercules, the tallest man I ever beheld out of an exhibition’, and he was known as a great sportsman.

By the 1850s, newspaper reports of Queen Victoria’s Highland jaunts had captured the imagination of her subjects, and Ben Nevis had become a popular tourist attraction. Long John was the leader of what we might now call the local mountain rescue team, and was often called upon to help rescue tourists who got into difficulties while climbing its slopes.

Based at the foot of Ben Nevis, Long John was mountain rescue team leader
He featured in newspaper columns all over Britain in 1838, after a party including the young Duchess of Buccleuch got lost in the mist while ascending the mountain. The alarm was raised at nightfall and Long John set off in the dark, ringing a large bell, to find them. The lost souls were found and Long John brought her ladyship off the mountain on the back of his horse, using his plaid as her saddle.

As a businessman, Long John had a flair for publicity. In 1841 it was reported that Prince Augustus, the Duke of Sussex, was an aficionado of Long John’s whisky,and had two dozen bottles in his cellar. Another broadsheet reported that his whisky was supplied to

Long John even sent a cask to Buckingham Palace, to be broached on the 21st birthday of the Prince of Wales. The nation’s newspapers loved the story.
By the 1850s, Long John’s Ben Nevis whisky was available throughout Britain for 42 shillings (£2.10) per dozen, each bottle fitted with a ‘patent metallic capsule’ which prevented ‘the fraudulent substitution of any inferior article’. It was advertised as ‘highly esteemed for the excellence of its flavour and patronised by the Royal Family, the Duke of Buccleuch, and most of the Scottish nobility,’ and was ‘guaranteed pure and unblended’.

One wine and spirit merchant opined that ‘families will be convinced by a single trial that Ben Nevis Dew is truly a medicine’.
Long John’s whisky may have become famous, but his business was ailing. He had borrowed heavily to operate the distillery, having spent most of his capital on acquiring the business, and the banks were not patient when there was a downturn in the market for whisky. His estate was sequestrated in 1856, and the unfortunate bankrupt died soon afterwards.

After his father’s death, the young Donald Peter McDonald (1835-91) acquired the distillery and stocks, and breathed new life into the business. Now known asLong John’s Dew of Ben Nevis, it was sold with age statements varying between five and 11 years, ‘guaranteed pure and unblended and of great age and fine flavour’.
Donald supervised the expansion of the distillery. A concrete pier was built on the river, and a fleet of his own cargo ships was employed to carry whisky along the west coast of Scotland to Glasgow and other ports in the south.

In 1878, with demand soaring, Donald built a new distillery alongside the old and called it Nevis. He designed many of the buildings himself, using concrete in place of traditional brick or masonry where possible, and a bustling village was laid out to accommodate his employees and their families.  

When whisky writer Alfred Barnard visited in 1886, the original distillery was producing more than 150,000 gallons of single malt whisky each year, while Nevis was turning out over 250,000 gallons. Barnard recorded a workforce of 30 men employed at Ben Nevis and 200 more at the new distillery, although many of the men worked on shared services such as warehousing, coopering and carting.

While much of the demand for the whisky came from blenders, Long John’s Dew of Ben Nevis remained, arguably, the world’s best-known single malt brand. The National Guardian reported in 1888 that ‘the demand for this most excellent of Highland malts is very considerable and steadily advancing in France’.

It was also exported to English-speaking countries such as Australia and the US. In every case, great play was made of the fact that Long John’s Dew of Ben Nevis was a single malt: ‘A fine Highland whisky in its pure natural state and not blended with grain spirit’.  

Its fame was boosted by the talent for promotion that Donald had evidently learned from his father. When the British Medical Association issued a report on alcohol-related diseases, for example, he quickly adopted some of its findings in his advertising, to suggest that drinking Long John might prolong life expectancy.

Donald died in 1891, leaving a personal fortune of more than £110,000. The business was inherited by his sons, but it appears that they tired of the challenge to sell single malt in a market increasingly dominated by heavily-promoted blended whiskies.

In 1911, they sold the Long John trademark to the wine and spirits merchant W. H Chaplin & Co, and one of the most famous names in the world of single malt whisky became a blended Scotch.

June 2018
A 45-year-old bottling of Ben Nevis is the first of aScottish folklore-themed series of single malts launched by whisky company Cask 88.
Ben Nevis 45 Year Old Cù-Sìth
The Ben Nevis bottling will be the first of six in the series
The 1972 whisky is named Cù-Sìth after a ‘terrifying’ large hound, reputed to possess a murderous bark and to stalk the Highlands, preying upon weary travellers.
Anyone who hears the beast bark three times, it is said, will be instantly transported to the underworld.
Bottled at 43.2% abv, drawn from a Sherry hogshead and priced at £650 per 70cl bottle, 228 bottles of Cù Sìth Ben Nevis 45-year-old are available now from Cask 88’s online bottle shop.
The Scottish Folklore series will comprise six single cask whiskies, each featuring a different mythical beast.
‘We intend to create a fantastic collection of some of the finest Scottish whiskies, selected to represent the breadth and depth of Scotland’s world-renowned culture and heritage, while playing our part in ensuring these enchanting myths and folk tales endure for generations to come,’ said Cask 88 European sales director Jonny Fowle.
Cask 88 worked with art historian and Celtic expert Dr Frances Fowle to understand the history of the Cù-Sìth legend and its place in Scottish folklore.

When Macdonald’s Traditional Ben Nevis was launched in 2011, it was said to be an homage to old-style whiskies, but to be honest that is what Ben Nevis has always made.

The washbacks are wooden and, more significantly, brewer’s yeast is used, making this the last distillery in Scotland to insist on this old way of inducing fermentation. Distillation is slow and steady, giving a rich, deep distillate which matures well in ex-Sherry casks where a ripe, chewy texture is produced.

It was in 1825 that ‘Long’ John Macdonald took out a licence for his Ben Nevis distillery on the outskirts of Fort William and close to Britain’s highest mountain. His son Peter took up the reins soon after and built a significant business. By the end of the 19th century, when blended Scotch was becoming the fashion, Long John’s Dew of Ben Nevis was a successful single malt brand.

Such was the popularity of the MacDonald’s whisky that Peter built a second distillery, ‘Nevis’, which ran in tandem with the original unit. At one point, over 200 people were employed in this virtual whisky city.

This golden age was not to last. In 1908 Nevis closed and its sister plant operated intermittently until 1941when the colourful Canadian entrepreneur (and former bootlegger) Joseph Hobbs bought the firm. The Long John brand name had already been sold to Seager Evans, and Hobbs sold off the former Nevis site to Associated Scottish Distilleries. Closed during WWII, Hobbs restarted production in 1955 when he installed a Coffey still. He then started to blend his malt and grain together before maturing.

The distillery fell silent in 1978, but production started again, along with much needed refurbishment, in 1981 when it was bought, appropriately enough, by Long John International – by then the whisky division of the brewer Whitbread. In 1989, Long John sold it to the Japanese distiller Nikka which had been buying malt and grain from the distillery for a number of years.

Ben Nevis has continued in production and has split its whisky between bulk supplies for Japan, the Dew of Ben Nevis and Macdonalds of Glencoe blends, and single malt bottlings, which start with a 10-year-old expression but in recent years have been extended to include Macdonald’s Traditional Ben Nevis which includes smokier components. Whisky from one of the last ‘Blended At Birth’ casks appeared as a 40-year-old in2002.

Shell and tube
48hrs, longer at weekends
Normally Speyside Type, low/occasionally 30-35ppm
Various, usually all major U.K. malt supplier companies
Stainless Steel
Lauter (Newmill)
Plain, deep base
4 (2 Wash, 2 Spirit)
5 dunnage plus 1 racked
Plain, with a large, deep,
straight sided bottom
6 Steel, 2 Pine
Allt a Mhullin burn
Asahi Group Holdings logo
Asahi Group Holdings
1989 - present

Ben Nevis Distillery (Fort William)
Whitbread & Co
1981 - 1989
Joseph W Hobbs
1955 - 1981
DP MacDonald & Sons
1856 - 1955
John MacDonald
1825 - 1856

Ben Nevis Distillery ship 75 % of their production in the form of new make to their owners in Japan, Nikka Asahi Breweries, for the blend Black Nikka.

Output in 2018 : 2.000.000 litres alcohol, 50.000 Ltrs are heavily peated and 75 % is send to Japan and used for the blended whisky from Nikka
Outpur in 2019:  2.000.000 litrs alcohol

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