Ben Nevis sits just at the base of its namesake, Scotland’s highest mountain. A coastal distillery in the Western Highlands, Ben Nevis draws its water from the Allt a’Mhuilinn which originates from two pools, Coire Leis and Coire na’Ciste, which are both sited a good way up the mountain. The distillery was founded in 1825, by the gloriously named ‘Long John’ MacDonald, for whom the renowned Long John blended Scotch was named. After Long John’s death in 1856, ownership was passed down to Donald McDonald, his son.
A second distillery was sited nearby in 1878 and named Nevis Distillery. In a bid to keep up with growing demand, both distilleries eventually became one in the early twentieth century. The distillery joined the ranks of those experimenting with continuous distillation, installing a Coffey still in 1955 which remained on the site for twenty-six years.
The famed Japanese company Nikka acquired the distillery in 1989 and subsequently the quality was markedly improved. The heart of the range has been, for some time, the ten year-old. There have also been a few cask-finishes, limited editions and independent bottlings, notably from Blackadder and Douglas Laing. In 1991, a visitor centre was opened, utilising the wealth of tourists in the area, particularly those travelling to the rocky peak above the distillery.