Balblair is among the oldest distilleries in Scotland, and one of the prettiest. Founded in 1790, by John Ross. Like many malts, the make was unknown beyond local farmers until relatively recently, but it is now – at last, for it deserves it – being nurtured and promoted as brand by its owners. The Ross family ran the site for its first 100 years, before Alexander Cowan took charge, but like so many distilleries it suffered at the start of the 20th century and was closed in 1911, not reopening until after WWII when Churchill set out his edict that whisky needed to be made, and sold to the US.
Robert ‘Bertie’ Cumming, the owner of Old Pulteney, bought the silent site and ran it until 1970 when Canadian distiller Hiram Walker took over – before it was absorbed into what became Allied Distillers.
The latter firm sold it on to the enterprising Inver House in 1996. Inver House was bought by a subsidiary of Thai Beverages plc, Southeast Asia’s largest acholic beverage company, in 2001 and integrated into that company’s international division, International Beverage Holdings Ltd in 2006.