Deanston Distillery is housed in a massive, tall, austere stone building on the bank of the River Teith near Doune, Perthshire. Formerly a cotton mill, designed by Sir Richard Arkwright – one of the Fathers of the Industrial Revolution – it was built in 1785 and operated until 1965.
Inspired by David Dale’s mill community at New Lanark, in 1811 the owners built a comfortable model village close by to house the mill workers, complete with a school, post office, communal wash house, grocery shop and savings bank. It was also the first village in Scotland to have electric lighting, in 1813 – 45 years before its neighbour, Doune, and even some months before Westminster Bridge in London. By the 1840s Deanston Village had 4,000 inhabitants, over a quarter of whom worked in the mill. Much of the village is now listed as being of special architectural and historic interest.
For Brodie Hepburn, whisky brokers in Glasgow and owners of Tullibardine and Macduff Distilleries, conversion of the mill into a distillery was a no-brainer. It already had a water turbine in place, driven by water from the river and there was plenty of excellent space for maturing casks. All that required to be done was to remove four solid floors to make way for two pairs of stills. In partnership with the mill owner, James Findlay & Company, the distillery commenced production in 1969, employing many of the local community.