Surrounded by rolling Scottish countryside, with fresh water abounding and plenty of barley and peat, Knockdhu is based in the perfect place for whisky making. This part of the world has long been heaving with distilleries and John Morrison, owner of the Knock Estate, thought one more couldn’t hurt.
Before he invested too much, he wanted to test the water found on the nearby Black Hill and sent them to be tested by the DCL lab in Edinburgh. Noticing just how good the water was, DCL jumped at the chance to own Knockdhu and offered to buy the site from Morrison, which he gladly let them do. The railway lines that ran past the distillery also helped make the decision, considering how important good transport links were at the time.
In 1893, construction started and finished in 1894.
This was an exciting development for DCL as it was the first distillery they ever built. Alongside it, they also built the Knockdhu Distillery Cottages, which were used as housing for the workers.
The distiller itself was rather tiny, in comparison to most of the distilleries in Scotland now and at the time. With only two stills, it had a small output. It did however, have five warehouses, so regardless of the output of Knockdhu malt, it was still an important place for DCL.
However, within about 4 decades of opening, DCL decided to pass Knockdhu on and it was sold to Scottish Malt Distillers, who closed it in 1931. This was the start of a pattern in the life of Knockdhu.
It was opened again in 1933, then closed for the second world war. It opened again, only to be shut down in 1983, due to not being very popular. Then it was bought by Inver House Distillers, who opened it again in 1989.
AnCnoc, not to be confused with Knockando
In an effort to differentiate themselves from the nearby Knockando distillery, the company released a new brand in the 1990s, called anCnoc.
This is when the distillery really began to find success. Despite being small in size and having a checkered past, Knockdhu remains open today, producing some of the best malt in the Highlands.
What’s your favourite anCnoc malt? Tell us in the comments!