This distillery located in Brora, Sutherland was built in 1819. During a period when greedy land owners saw an opportunity to enrich themselves through sheep farming, many crofters, farmers and even fishermen were 'cleared' (i.e. evicted) form their ancestral lands. The lands were the clearances caused more suffering were Caithness and Sutherland. The few crofters who remained were made to work at their laird's new enterprises. Often, they were paid with tokens that could only be redeemed at their laird's shops.
Clynelish distillery enjoyed little success during its early years. The distillery was sold in 1896 and the new owners made Clynelish something of a success. During the early years of the 20th century, the distillery produced whisky intended for the blends of the Distillers Company Limited (DCL). During the 1930's the distillery closed down and partially reopened during World War two.
In 1968 a larger and more efficient distillery was built right next to the original one. The original distillery was mothballed for only a couple of months. In 1969 the old Clynelish distillery was renamed Brora, it produced a heavily peated single malt for blending. This was done bacause Islay distilleries struggled with a drought during those years and Caol Ila distillery was being rebuilt.
Both distilleries operated along each other until 1983 when Brora closed down. It had stopped producing heavily peated malt in 1973. In 2017 it was announced that Brora would be rebuilt and brought back to life.
Clynelish distillery produces a spirit using a rather unique set up: the spirit stills are larger than the wash stills. A long fermentation period of some 55 hours produces fruity esters. The faints receiver has the naturally occurring oils cleaned and put back every time it gets cleaned. This results in a whisky with a waxy, mouth coating palate.