A 30 minute drive, north of Inverness, will lead you to the small village of Alness ? home to Dalmore Distillery, and the lesser known Teaninich Distillery. While Dalmore sits prominently on the shores of the Cromarty Firth, visible from the road - Teaninich is to be found hidden on the edge of town, part of an industrial estate.
This anonymity suits Teaninich, there are no visitor facilities and the whisky has never been promoted as a Single Malt. However this should also not detract from Teaninich?s enduring history. Established at a time when illicit distilling was rife, Teaninich (pronounced ?Te-an-in-ick?) was one of only four legal distilleries to survive. The distillery has been in production almost continuously ? it only stopped for WWII and a short period during the ?whisky loch? years of the 1980s.
Indeed, the whisky was in such demand that the distillery has seen numerous upgrades. From 1970 there were two distilleries on the site when a new still house was built. This was known as ?A Side? with the original distillery becoming ?B Side?. Both remained in production until the distillery was mothballed in the mid 1980s. When production recommenced in 1991 only the ?A Side? was utilised, the original ?B Side? buildings were demolished in 1999.
The distillery?s output remains a blender?s favourite and currently three million litres of alcohol are produced annually. Teaninich is a key component of Johnnie Walker Blended Scotch.
As you visit more and more distilleries, you look forward to seeing the subtle differences in each of their whisky making process. In general most things are the same, just a different size or shape ? not at Teaninich.
The malt is ground to a very fine grist by using revolving hammers to pound it against a perforated grateYou first notice that the mill looks different, not a roller mill such as a Porteous or Boby mill but an Asnong Hammer Mill. The malt is ground to a very fine grist by using revolving hammers to pound it against a perforated grate. Then the real changes become apparent.
The grist is then mixed with the first water in the ?Mash Conversion Vessel?. large Meura filter press where the mash is squeezed between 24 cloth plates A vortex stirs the mash to the consistency of runny porridge. It is then transferred to a large Meura filter press where the mash is squeezed between 24 cloth plates and the wort is collected. A second water is then added through the filter and approximately 18,500 litres of wort are collected. The remaining liquid in the press is known as ?weak worts? and is collected for the next mash. The filter plates are then separated to allow the draff to be collected. This process takes place three times to fill one wash back, with each "pressing" taking two hours to complete.essing? taking two hours to complete.
Meura filter press where the mash is squeezed between 24 cloth platesAlthough mash filters have been used in breweries for over 100 years, the distilling industry has remained loyal to the mash tun. There are a number of advantages: efficient extraction of handle ?problem? malt which would cause process problems in a conventional distillery, few moving parts, less mechanical wear and quick turnover times. Time will tell if the mash filter will be deemed a success and introduced in other distilleries. It is certainly one of the most unique features to be encountered in visiting Teaninich.
1817 Founded by Captain Hugh Munro, owner of the Teaninich Estate. 1845 Distilling passes to Lieutenant-General John Munro, a renowned benefactor of the local poor.
1850 Munro is posted on service to India for many years, and leases the distillery to Robert Pattison to operate in his absence.
1869 The lease on Teaninich distillery is passed on to John McGilchrist Ross. 1887 Alfred Barnard describes it as the only distillery north of Inverness that is lit by electricity - ?besides which it possesses telephonic communication with the Proprietor?s residence and the quarters of the Excise Officers?.
1895 John McGilchrist Ross gives up the distillery tenancy and is succeeded by a partnership of John Munro, a spirit merchant and Robert Innes Cameron, a whisky broker, both from Elgin.
1898 The Munro family transfers the whole of the distillery capital and all of its assets to the firm of Munro and Cameron.
1904 Robert Innes Cameron becomes sole proprietor of the Teaninich distillery. He also owns substantial interests in several Highland distillery companies, including Benrinnes, Linkwood and Tamdhu, and later became chairman of the Malt Distillers Association. 1932 Robert Innes Cameron dies aged 72, in Elgin. He had been an influential and well-respected figure, and among the funeral wreaths is one from his friend, Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald. 1933 Teaninich is sold to Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd by the trustees of Robert Innes Cameron.
1939-1946 The distillery is closed as a result of wartime restrictions on the supply of barley to distillers.
1962 The stillhouse is refitted. The steam engine and the two water wheels are discarded in favour of electricity, two additional stills introduced, and internal heating by steam replaced by coal burning furnaces.
1970 Demand for Teaninich continues to grow, and a new stillhouse with six additional stills begin production.
1973 The milling, mashing and fermentation part of the old distillery are rebuilt. 1975 Dark grains plant is built. 1985-1990 The distillery is mothballed. 1991 Distillery re-opened by UDV. 2000 Mash filter installed.