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Littlemill Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Bowling, Dumbartonshire
G60 5BG Scotland
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George Buchanan was a wealthy maltmaster from Glasgow who bought Littlemill when he purchased the Auchterlonie estate in 1750. In 1772 Buchanan built houses to accommodate Excise officers - this was the first official record of Littlemill's existence. The distillery's roots however, date back much further. According to Misako Udo, Littlemill, a Lowland distillery, was converted from a 1750's brewery building and, there is speculation whisky was distilled upon this site as far back as the fourteenth century. Littlemill was quite possibly the oldest distillery in Scotland, however, information regarding its orgins are somewhat obscure thus making it difficult to truly establish.

Throughout Littlemill's 'official' 200 year history, there were many owners and many which were undocumented. Some included Matthew Clark & Co. in 1818, followed by Peter McGregor in 1821. Along came the The Excise Act in 1823 and it was Jane MacGregor who became the first licensee for Littlemill and also one of the earliest woman distillers in Scotland. Jane retained Littlemill until 1839. Additional owners included Duncan McCullouch (until 1846), McCullouch & McAlpine (1846-1847), John MacAlpine, Harvey & Co. (1852), William Hunter and John E. Sharpe (1853), William Hunter (1854-1857), William Hay & Co. (1857-1867), William Hay Jr. (1869) and William Hay, Fairman & Co. (date unknown-1874).

Littlemill Distillery Stills

G. Thomas, an American citizen, took over Littlemill in 1931 forming the Littlemill Distillery Co. Ltd. In 1959 Barton Brands Inc, of Chicago became shareholders in the company and eventually bought out D.G Thomas in 1971. The company became Barton Distilling (Scotland) Ltd.

Littlemill was closed in 1984 and four years later became under the ownership of Gibson International. The distillery was modernized and reopened in 1989. Ownership changed one last time - in 1994 when Littlemill was acquired by Glen Catrine Bonded Warehouses. It was managed by its sister company Loch Lomond Distillery Co Ltd..

Littlemill's house style has been described as soft and sweet, like marshmallows, and often with a 'wet grass' character.


Littlemill 1991 - Connoisseurs Choice by Gordon and MacPhail - Photo Courtesy of The Master of Malt

COLOUR: Dark straw - pale gold.

NOSE: A prominent floral note, touches of freshly cut grass and straw.

PALATE: A strong sweetness with mild spicy influences and a touch of perfume.

FINISH: A leafy, pleasant finish.

NOSE: Heavy citrus - lemon and oranges, milk chocolate with some woodiness and a nice balance of sweet elements.

PALATE: Heavy sweetness, light citrus and soft fruits - reminicent of cooked apples.

BODY: Light-medium.

CASK TYPE: First fill bourbon barrels.

Tasting Notes by Gordon & Macphail

Littlemill Whisky Distillery
Littlemill Distillery

The Littlemill Distillery was established in 1772, yet its roots date back to the 1750s and possibly even back to the fourteenth century. It's no wonder its claim as Scotland's oldest distillery goes unchallenged.

Littlemill is recognized as a Lowland malt, however, its water source is north of the Highland Line. The stills are of an unusual design - they had rectifying columns at their neck and were similar to those at a grain distillery. In 1821, annual production was recorded at 20,000 gallons.

Littlemill was rebuilt in 1875 and carried out the process of triple distillation until the mid 1930s. After the 1929 crash, it was closed for two years. In 1984, Littlemill was closed, but was reopened again in 1989 by Gibson International. In 1994 production ceased.

The Dumbarton District Council considered serving a Building Preservation Notice in February of 1995 since the distillery's buildings were up for sale and could face demolition. However, some of the distillery warehouse buildings were not listed as perserving and in September of 1995, permission was granted to demolish them.

In 1997, owners of Littlemill took the distillery off the market. They intended to restore Littlemill and create a working distillery museum. Unfortunately, this planned was never carried out and preserving the distillery failed. In 2004 Littlemill was a target of arson resulting in destruction of the distillery. In May of 2006 it was completely demolished.