Millburn, said to be founded in 1807, was located in
Inverness - just like Glen Albyn and Glen Mhor. They
operated under different ownership though, and
Millburn predates the other two distilleries.
Millburn distillery started out as 'Inverness distillery'
and was founded by Mr. Welsh - some claim as early
as 1805. That means that it actually began in the days
before the Excise Act of 1823 that legalised production
of whisky. After whisky distillation was legalised the
distillery was taken over by James Rose and Alexander
MacDonald in 1825. Records show that their company
was liquidated in 1829, but it is not entirely clear what
happened to Millburn after that.
In 1853 David Rose (a local corn trader) obtained the
distillery, but once again details are vague. Millburn
was most likely used as a mill until 1876 when it was
reconstructed and converted back to a distillery.
1) Ironically enough, for more than two decades in the 1800's Millburn was actually used as a mill.
2) Millburn was the oldest of the three remaining distilleries in Inverness that were all closed in the 1980's.
The two other malt whisky distilleries in town were the Glen Albyn and Glen Mhor distilleries.
3) The traditional malting floor at Milburn was replaces by a Saladin Box in 1964.
4) The stills at Millburn were steam heated since 1966.
When I write this I've only sampled eight expressions of Millburn - and tasting notes for three of them were published in Malt Maniacs instead of Malt Madness. I couldn't track down those notes after the big crash of the website in 2006, so I'm afraid that the notes on these five expressions are all I've got to offer at the moment;
Millburn 1974/2000 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice)
Nose: Slightly oily, then menthol & eucalyptus. Cannabis? Perfumy. Developing into sweets / fruit cake.
Taste: Very smooth, sweet & malty at first. The sweetness vanishes. Perfume & eucalyptus in the finish.
Score: 74 points - a score ever so slightly below average.
Millburn 1974/1998 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice)
Nose: Surprisingly citrussy. More like a liqueur, almost - but much subtler and quite uneven.
Taste: Once again the citrus is quite dominant. Very little else to get excited about, I'm afraid.
Score: 45 points - some traits of this single malt whisky really rubbed me the wrong way...
Millburn 1978/1997 (65.6%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask #3166) - a sample from Craig Daniels.
Nose: Starts heavier than the light colour suggests. Veggy and a little spicy. Maltier after a minute.
With a big splash of water and some breathing I found more pine and menthol. Remains sundued though.
Taste: Quite drinkable (well, sippable) at cask strength. It makes a vegetal impression, just like the nose.
Score: 78 points - I'm delighted I got to sample this whisky; above average, but I can't actually recommend it.
Incidentally, this must be one of the highest proof whiskies I've ever had the pleasure of sampling.
Millburn 18yo 1977/1996 (43%, Coopers Choice) - a much appreciated sample from Craig Daniels.
Nose: Antique and a little grassy. A honeyed sweetness with a hint of dust. Hint of coffee.
Taste: Wow! A surprisingly peaty burn. Meaty, but sweet and smooth at the same time. Dry finish.
After circa ten minutes some leathery elements emerge. A hint of pine? The finish grows smokier.
Score: 87 points - which makes it one of the better expressions I've tried; the bottlings I've tried so far either scored below average or in the upper 80's. A statistical anomaly or a consequence of uneven wood management?
Millburn 1971/1993 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseur's Choice, 70cl)
Nose: Big, changes from oily/menthol/eucalyptus to sherry/sweets/fruits over time. Lacks some cohesion.
Taste: Smooth and sweet. A little sherry, a little malt, a little smoke. Maybe a pinch of peat. Unbalanced.
Score: 74 points - the lack of balance on the palate kept it just below average.
These were not all (official & independent) bottlings of Millburn Scotch whisky I've tried over the years.
Besides, these tasting notes only reflect my own, personal opinion; your tastes might be different from mine.
Fortunately, you can find the scores and tasting notes from up to two dozen other whisky lovers in the 'Malt Maniacs Monitor' - an independent whisky database with details on more than 15,000 different whiskies from Scotland and the rest of the world. Visit the Millburn page on the MMMonitor and select 'scorecard view' if you want to know how other whisky lovers felt about the dozens of Millburn expressions that were released in recent years. However, if you'd like to learn more about whisky in general (and single malt Scotch whisky in particular), you might want to check out the Beginner's Guide to Scotch whisky (10 chapters filled with everything you need to fully enjoy and appreciate a glass of single malt whisky) or the mAlmanac (sort of a rudimentary whisky shopping guide.)
Millburn (Pronounced: just like it's written)
Highlands (North) - some say Speyside (Inverness)
Glen Albyn, Glen Mhor, Glen Ord, Royal Brackla
Closed (in 1985), dismantled (in 1988)
Loch Duntelchaig (cooling water from the Mill Burn)
1 Wash still, 1 Spirit still
DCL (since 1937)
Millburn Road, Inverness, Inverness-shire, IV2 3QX
Below, on WhiskyFun and on the Malt Maniacs Monitor
Scores & tasting notes:
George Rose (a son of owner David Rose) took over Millburn in 1881 and ran the distillery for
a little over a decade until it was acquired by Andrew Haig & Co. in 1892. They were probably
behind the formation of the Millburn Distillery Company in 1904, at which time the name of the
distillery was also officially changed to 'Millburn'. Production continued until 1921 (with possibly
a gap during World War I) when the distillery was taken over by Booth's Distillers Ltd. - a gin
producer from London. Millburn was promptly damaged by a fire in 1922 (sort of an occupational
hazard in those days), but the new owners managed to rebuild everything the same year.
In 1935 Booth's Distillers Ltd. merged with William Sanderson & Co. - who in 1937 became part
of the Distillers Company Ltd. (DCL)., They transferred Millburn to Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd.
(SMD) in 1943. Both DCL and SMD were predecessors of current industry giant Diageo.
Because Millburn was located between the outskirts of Inverness and a river the possibilities
for expansion were limited. This was probably the main reason why the distillery was closed
in 1985 after the whisky crisis of the early 1980's. Three years later many of Millburn's buildings
were demolished in preparation for property development. A few years later the old distillery
had been turned into a restaurant.
In 1989 Whitbread opened a beefeater restaurant
one of the old distillery buildings under the appropriate
name 'the auld distillery'. Later on the name for the
restaurant at Millburn (located in the North-Eastern
part of Inverness) changed to 'Slice' and it was
incorporated in the 'Premier Travel Inn' chain.
Bottlings of Millburn are fairly rare - the 25yo UD Rare
Malts expression from 1975 depicted higher up on this
page could be the most easily available version. An 18
years old UDRM bottling (bottled 1995) is hard to find.
2005 - The last semi-official bottling of Millburn is released; the Millburn 35yo 1969/2005 (51.2%, UD Rare Malts).
Is the distillery or