When you think of the place where whisky is born, a factory floor may not spring to mind, but the truth is that industrial-sized distilleries make most of the whisky in the world—and it’s almost always extremely high quality. Size—or, really, scale—does matter when it comes to turning out enough great whisky to satisfy millions of thirsty drinkers, and the measures that these mega-producers take to ensure a delicious final outcome are impressive at every turn.
In most of the world, distillery capacity is measured in liters of pure alcohol (lpa) or liters of absolute alcohol (laa), though U.S. distillers favor proof gallons as the unit. Capacity measures how much whisky a distillery can make, not necessarily how much it is making—though it’s safe to say that producers at this scale are making a whole lot. Check out the world’s largest whisky distilleries below, and keep reading for recommendations on the best industrial-scale whiskies to try.
The World’s Biggest Whisky Distilleries
United States: Jack Daniel
Whiskey styles: Tennessee whiskey, rye
Annual capacity: Over 72 million proof gallons (136 million lpa)
Scotland (single malt): Glenlivet
Annual capacity: 21 million lpa
Scotland (grain): Cameronbridge
Annual capacity: 105 million lpa
Whiskey styles: Malt, grain, pot still
Annual capacity: 68 million lpa
Canada: Hiram Walker*
Whisky style: Canadian (made with rye, corn, wheat, barley, malted barley, and malted rye)
Annual capacity: 55 million lpa
*Hiram Walker makes other spirits as well, but the majority of production is whisky.
Big Scale, Big Flavor: High-Scoring Bottles Made by Mega-Distillers
Booker’s 2020-02 “Boston Batch”—90 points
Part of the James B. Beam Distilling Co.’s Small Batch Collection, this barrel-proof bourbon has the same origins as Jim Beam White Label, made at the company’s two Kentucky distilleries.
Canadian Club Chronicles 42 year old: The Dock Man—96 points
Made at Hiram Walker Distillery, this extra-aged whisky boasts complex aromas and flavors of spice, fruit, and pepper.
Glenfiddich Grand Cru—92 points
Aged 23 years, including time in casks from France’s most famous sparkling wine region, this Speyside single malt is fruity and floral, buttressed by a full mouthfeel.
Glenlivet Enigma—93 points
The distillery revealed little about this mysterious single malt, No. 8 in our 2019 Top 20, when it was first released, but its rich full flavors spoke for themselves.
Hibiki Japanese Harmony—90 points
Suntory uses whiskies from its two malt distilleries—Yamazaki and Hakushu—and Chita grain distillery for this balanced blend, one of the most widely available Japanese whiskies.
Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Heritage Barrel—93 points
America’s largest whiskey distillery makes both Old No. 7 and this special edition, which ranked at No. 3 in our 2018 Top 20.
Old Fitzgerald 15 year old Bottled in Bond—94 points
Heaven Hill makes this high-scoring bourbon on the same equipment used for mainstream brands Evan Williams and Elijah Craig.
Pappy Van Winkle 15 year old Family Reserve—96 points
One of the most coveted bourbons in the world comes off the same colossal still as the other whiskeys made at Buffalo Trace, including bottom-shelf labels like Benchmark.
Redbreast 27 year old—93 points
This mature single pot still expression is made at Midleton Distillery, the source of numerous Irish whiskeys, including worldwide bestseller Jameson.
WhistlePig Boss Hog VI: The Samurai Scientist—92 points
Made at Alberta Distillers, one of Canada’s largest distilleries, this experimental whisky was fermented with koji and finished in umeshu plum wine barrels.