Deanston Distillery is a fascinating story of commerce and endeavour. The Distillery began its life as a flax mill and in 1785 John Buchanan and his brothers from Carston decided to use the conveniently located River Teith to upgrade it to a state-of-the-art water powered mill and named it the Adelphi (after the Greek meaning brothers) Mill. The decision in later years to convert the mill to a distillery was largely influenced by the pure waters of the, once again, conveniently located River Teith.
The cotton mill changed hands in 1808 when James Finlay & Co. bought it off the Buchanans and developed it into the industrial leader of its time. A decrease in the demand for cotton in the twentieth century saw the mill’s fortunes decline until it was finally shut in 1965, but its sabbatical was short lived. Through the efforts of its owners James Finlay & Co and their partners Brodie Hepburn & Co, and A.B (Sandy) Grant, known together as Deanston Distillers Ltd, it reopened a year later as the Deanston Distillery having undergone an extensive £300,000 (approx $550,000) refurbishment. The Distillery started bottling in 1971, calling its first single malt Old Bannockburn and the first single malt bearing the name Deanston was produced in 1974.
As a mill it boasted some powerful machinery. one of its waterwheels, a 300 horsepower beast named Hercules, was the largest worldwide. In 1949 the waterwheels were decommissioned and replaces with the more efficient hydro-turbine and steam generators that currently power the distillery and the excess power is sold back to the Scottish national grid. In an age of carbon footprint challenges, it seems the good folk of Deanston were years ahead of their time in doing their part for the environment, and this forms a core part of the Deanston ethos.
Originally designed by Sir Richard Arkwright, the architecture is a striking feature of the Distillery and the large, vaulted warehouse now houses up to 45,000 casks of maturing whisky. The warehouse is recognised as one of Scotland’s greatest surviving Recency industrial buildings, and whisky guru Jim Murray described it as a “cathedral to whisky maturation”. The roof in the warehouse was originally insulated with soil to mute the racket made by the hundreds of looms and in keeping with the green ethic at Deanston, the soil was reused as the foundation for a local community vegetable garden.