The St Magdalene distillery was established at some point during the eighteenth century. The exact year is unknown, though it is known that Sebastian Henderson was the founder. The first date attached to the whisky distillery was 1797 - the year that Adam Dawson of Bonnytoun became the distiller. The site originally held the twelfth century hospital, St Magdalene, and later the convent Lazar House.
The St Magdalene distillery sits in eastern Linlithgow in West Lothian. During the seventeenth century the area was a nucleus for local malting and milling. The area is rich in natural resources; there are many pure water sources as well as the barley-rich Lothians. It was in 1912 that then owner A & J Damson Ltd went into liquidation and subsequently Distillers Company Limited acquired the whisky distillery. Not long after this, in 1914, Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd (SMD) was formed. SMD was born of a merger between Distillers Company Limited as well as John Walker & Sons and three other Lowland distillery companies.
After the Second World War, the Scotch whisky industry experienced the same boom and bust that the UK has been suffering of late. After rationing was abolished, sales of whisky greatly increased and the industry was fervent in meeting demands and exploiting the new market. As such, many companies and distilleries were expanded, though much of this was based on borrowed money. Unsurprisingly, the bubble burst.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s there was a significant slump in the market and, in 1983, the stills of St Magdalene ran dry. Still there are bottlings available, though they are becoming increasingly rare. There has been an official release from the Rare Malts range as well as a handful of independent offerings under the names St Magdalene and sometimes Linlithgow.