Visitors to the Highland’s oldest working distillery have increased by more than a third in the last year as Scottish whisky tourism takes off.
Bosses at Balblair said visitors are up by more than 35% for the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2017.
As a result of the boom the distillery has had to hire three new tour guides to handle the increased demand.
Louise Williamson, 27, Caron Richmond, 21, and Laura Oliver, 38, have joined the premium single malt distiller taking the total headcount of tour staff to six.
The uplift in visitors has also contributed to a 67.5% increase in on site sales at the distillery shop which stocks the full range of the Balblair collection and offers a limited edition hand-bottling service.
John MacDonald, distillery manager at Balblair said: “One comment we receive from visitors time and time again is that they value the quality of the tour our staff offer and the true Highland manner with which they carry out the experience.
“We still produce premium single malts on a small scale. Visitors are often surprised at the heritage of the site and the hands-on approach of staff to the process – it’s not a factory or a sterile visitor centre, but an authentic, working distillery.
“External factors have also helped bolster the growth we’ve experienced this year. The ever-increasing popularity of the North Coast 500 has undoubtedly drawn more visitors to the area. New signage directing people to the distillery has also helped.
“We hope that visitor numbers continue to grow throughout the summer season and that even more people can enjoy an authentic distillery experience.”
Earlier this year, Balblair launched two new vintages, the 2000 and 1991. They were introduced to the market in early 2018 and in May, both won Gold medals at the International Spirits Challenge Awards. More recently, both won acclaim in the IWSC competition with the 2000 vintage winning Gold, with the 1991 vintage winning outstanding silver.
Balblair has been making whisky from the banks of the Dornoch Firth since 1790, making it one of, if not the oldest working distillery in the heart of the Highlands.