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Glenfiddich Distillery
Picture: Glenfiddich
Click to see large map in separate window   Location: Dufftown, Keith, Banffshire, AB55 4DH
Roads: On the A941, half-mile north of Dufftown
Hours: 9.30am - 4.30pm, Mon - Fri except Christmas and New Year holidays. Also Sat. 9.30am - 4.30pm and Sun.12.00 - 4.30pm Easter to October Group bookings over 12 persons by appointment.
Reception centre and shop. Commentaries also in French, German, Italian, Spanish and Japanese.
Phone: 01340-820373   Fax: 01340-820805
Homepage: www.glenfiddich.com/

Text from The Whisky Trails, Copyright © Gordon Brown 1993:

Glenfiddich were the first to take malt whisky out into the world and, just 30 years after the first steps across the border into England were made in 1963, the familiar triangular bottle has become the top-selling single malt in the world. The Grant family have run the show for five generations and continue to do so today. They are proud of the fact that the entire process of making good whisky may be seen at the distillery. It is the only distillery in the Highlands, and one of only three in Scotland, where the whisky is ‘château-bottled’ – i.e. bottled where it was made and matured. The stills continue to be coal fired and a noisy, sweltering process you can see it to be from up close. The distillery has its own coppersmiths and coopers.

Picture: Testing the whisky at Glenfiddich
Testing the progress of maturation in the warehouse
William Grant worked for 20 years at Mortlach distillery, latterly as manager, and left when he got the opportunity to buy at a bargain price the cast-off stills and other equipment from Cardhu distillery which was being refitted. He completed his own distillery in 1887 and it yielded its first spirit on Christmas Day of the same year. Grant did not have a customer for his first batch of spirit but John Gordon Smith, distiller of The Glenlivet at Minmore, was unable to fulfil an order due to a fire at his distillery and he recommended Grant’s make to his customer. The deal went through and both sides were well satisfied.

To begin with, Grant’s three sons helped him run the distillery at a time when they were preparing for entrance to Aberdeen University; it was not uncommon for visitors to find maths primers and anatomy books propped up in corners of the distillery to be handy when spare moments presented themselves. At the same time, Grant’s daughters cut the peat for the kiln. Grant was able to build a second distillery – Balvenie – close by in 1892.

When whisky-blenders Pattison, Glenfiddich’s best customer, folded in 1898, Grant decided to launch his own blend, Standfast. He sent son, Captain Charles, and son-in-law to Glasgow as salesmen but it took 503 visits to potential clients before they sold ... a single case. In 1920, Charles Grant bought Glendronach distillery and it was run by the Grant family until 1960 when it was sold to the Teacher company. Perhaps if the Grants had held on to Glendronach they would not have had to build the century’s newest distillery, called Kininvie, in 1992. It will be the 21st century before we know how the mature whisky shapes up!

Most of the traditional elements are there to be seen but Glenfiddich is big and spreads out quite a bit. It has to be since all whisky is matured at the distillery; with the scale of Glenfiddich’s sales, that means warehousing for over 250,000 oak casks on the premises.

The 11 wash stills and 18 spirit stills are heated by coal-fired direct flame and are not paired because it is seen as important to the character of the final distillate that the spirit stills be small in size. Water is drawn from the Robbie Dubh well which is both plentiful and consistent in its supply. The malt is supplied by external maltsters to a lightly peated specification.

The Whisky
Text from The Whisky Trails, Copyright © Gordon Brown 1993:

‘Standard’ Glenfiddich’s lightness and gentleness appeals to first-time malt-drinkers, while its spare fruit-and-smoke subtlety is liked by more seasoned buffs. The older editions take on greater softness, girth and sherried complexity with succulent and well-mellowed balance. The bottling is minimum eight years old at 40/43%, to 30-year-old in crystal, silver-stoppered decanters. Some 12-year-old has lately been on offer from one of the independents. Most goes into Grant’s own blends. Source of water
Robbie Dubh spring

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