The Teaninich Distillery is one shrouded in mystery. Founded in 1817, the Highland single malt whisky producer today has an annual capacity of 10.2 million litres and distills for brands including Haig Dimple, VAT 69 and Johnnie Walker. Despite its size and stature (it’s Diageo’s third-largest whisky distillery, covering more than 20 acres), there’s not much out there about Teaninich as a whisky in its own right – which is rather a shame as the liquid exudes as much character and body as its two illustrious near-neighbours: Dalmore and Glenmorangie.
It was Captain Hugh Munro, head of the local clan, who set up Teaninich more than 200 years ago. Fun fact: in 1887 it became the first distillery north of Inverness to have electricity and a telephone. Teaninich remained in Munro family hands up until 1904, when Robert Innes Cameron, formerly a major shareholder, became the sole owner. After his death in 1932, the site was acquired by Distillery Company Limited the following year. Teaninich was passed from pillar to post through various mergers and acquisitions during the latter part of the 20th century, and today the distillery is of course owned by Diageo.
If Teaninich is well-known for anything it is surely its unique blend of historic whisky distilling and cutting-edge technology – for example, it is one of just two Scotch distilleries to up its efficiency through using a mash filter instead of a mash tun or lauter tun. This focus on modernity has only accelerated in recent years: in 2013 Diageo invested £26 million in the site, essentially constructing a brand new, six-still-strong stillhouse and more than doubling capacity. In total, the site boasts 20 washbacks, six wash stills and six spirit stills, and 90% of its incoming barley is grown in Scotland.
Teaninich is one of those rare whiskies where official bottlings are outranked by third-party products – and there aren’t even that many of those. Diageo has only launched one official expression from its Flora and Fauna range, and a 17 year old forms part of the Special Releases 2017 collection.