Distillery Opened Capacity Malting Floor Washback Type Number of Washbacks Number of Wash Stills Number of Spirit Stills
1772 (Estimated) <1 million litres (Estimated) Dismissed in 1931 / / 1 1

Until 1992 when production stopped, Littlemill Distillery was Scotland's oldest working distillery and could trace its roots back to 1772. Although it is very hard to accurately verify dates of establishment, most evidence points to the Littlemill distillery being officially founded in 1772 by George Buchanan of Glasgow following his acquisition of the Auchterlonie estate.

The ownership of the Littlemill Distillery changed hands to Matthew Clark & Company in 1817. He was the first of eight owners until the arrival of the Hay family in 1857 when some stability ensued.

The Littlemill distillery was bought by William Hill, who launched a complete rebuilding of the site in 1875.

In 1913, the Littlemill Distillery was sold to near neighbour, grain producer Yoker Distillery Co.

A further period of instability followed, with blenders Charles Macinlay and J&G Thompson owning it briefly before, in 1931, it became the possession of the first of a succession of American owners, Duncan G. Thomas, who stopped triple distillation and added a number of modern functionalities to Littlemill Disltillery: for example, stills with rectifying columns. The stills were also isolated with aluminium. The goal was to create whiskies that would mature faster.

The Littlemill Distillery continued under Thomas' ownership until Barton Distilling Company bought him out in 1971.

After a brief time in mothballs between 1984 and 1989, the Littlemill Distillery run until 1992, when production halted again.

In 1994, what had been Barton's Scottish arm, now Gibson International, went backrupt and Glen Catrine Bonded Warehouse Company bought Littlemill distillery

In 1996 the production was halted for the last time and the Littlemill Distillery was dismantled and part of the buildings demolished. In 2004 much of the remaining buildings were destroyed in a fire.

  • 1772 Possible distilling began at the Littlemill site
  • 1817-1857 Matthew Clark & Co becomes the first of eight owners during this short period
  • 1857 William Hay buys the Littlemill Distillery
  • 1875 Littlemill Distillery is rebuilt by William Hill
  • 1913 The site is bought by Yoker Distilling Co.
  • 1918 Littlemill Distillery changes hands to Charles Mackinlay & J. & G. Thompson
  • 1931 The site is bought by Duncan Thomas and trades as Littlemill Distillery
  • 1931 Thomas stops triple distillation and installs hybrid pot/rectifier stills
  • 1971 Barton Brands buys out Thomas' stake in the company
  • 1984  The Littlemill Distillery is mothballed
  • 1987 Barton Brands sells Littlemill distillery to Gibson International
  • 1994 Gibson International is liquidated and the Littlemill distillery bought by Glen Catrine Bonded Warehouse
  • 1996 The Littlemill Distillery is eventually closed and the site sold to developers

Littlemill Distillery used the traditional Lowland triple distillation process until the 1930s. The distillery had only one wash still and one spirit still. The production capacity of the site is unknown, but because of the number of stills, we can estimate that the production capacity must not have been over 1 million litres a year.

The barley was first turned to malt manually, using maltings floors. In the 1930s, Duncan Thomas made some modifications at Littlemill Distillery. He introduced a Saladin's Box, and made special modifications to it, adding double ventilation towers over the drying kiln. 

The Littlemill Distillery core products consist of:

  • 25yo
  • 24yo Pearls of Scotland form 1991
  • 27yo from 1998 released by Hunter Laing

Image source: Official Littlemill Distillery Website & Twitter