March 14, 2013 – Historic Scotland, the Scottish Government agency responsible for preserving historic sites, has commissioned a feasibility study to examine whether to restart whisky production at the old Dallas Dhu Distillery in Speyside. The distillery closed in 1983, and has been operated by Historic Scotland as a museum since 1998.
The Scotsman reports government officials are considering small-scale whisky production at Dallas Dhu as a way to help turn the distillery into a tourist attraction for visitors to the Speyside region. The report cites a letter from Scottish Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop to the Moray area’s representative in Parliament, Richard Lochhead, suggesting that the study would determine whether it “is possible to bring the distillery back into production while conserving the historic nature of the site.” Lochhead welcomed the study, telling the paper that Dallas Dhu could provide an opportunity to showcase traditional distilling techniques.
Dallas Dhu produced whisky from 1899 until it was forced to close because of water shortages in 1983, and is located just outside Forres. No timetable for the report has been set.
A case study for the Dallas Dhu project could well be the success of George Washington’s Distillery at Mount Vernon in Virginia. That distillery was restored with funding from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, and produces small amounts of whiskey each year using traditional distilling practices from the colonial era. The non-profit organization that operates Mount Vernon uses the proceeds from whiskey sales to help fund operations and maintenance. Historic Scotland would likely be able to do something similar with whisky distilled at Dallas Dhu to help offset the cost of maintaining the distillery as a historical site and tourist attraction.