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 4a Around Elgin
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Glen Keith Distillery
Picture: Glen Keith
Location: Station Road, Keith, Banffshire
Roads: Just off the A96 by railway station in Keith
Hours: Visitors welcome by appointment No groups
No reception centre or shop
Phone: 01542-783044

Glen Keith distillery is a recent operation in historical terms, being a meal-mill converted in 1958 to its present distilling function. It was the first new malt-distilling operation mounted (if not the first distillery actually built) in Scotland since the Apache-charge of construction in the 1890s and there were other innovations later on. The country’s first gas-fired still was set up in 1970 and the first microprocessor for controlling aspects of production was installed 10 years later. The distillery lies on a bank of the River Isla just across from its delightful sister distillery, Strathisla.

Chivas Brothers made an excellent job of sympathetically converting the old grain mill, much of whose original fabric had already been demolished before they took it over. They even put a token pagoda head atop a tower but, since kilns tended not to have windows, it does look a little like a Daliesque campanile. Glen Keith looks the more compact for its not having any warehouses and spirit is taken to company warehouses just outside the town. The distillery has an intact Saladin Box malting system, though it has not been used since 1976.

Glen Keith started with a set of three stills in order to triple-distil its spirit. This was because very light, smooth and understated distillate was wanted for blending. This was discontinued in 1970 when two more stills were added and the distillery went over to double-distillation, leaving one of the stills silent. In 1983 a sixth was added.

The Whisky

Glen Keith is soft, delicate and gently fruity. Some distant peat and toffee; quite round in texture, understated overall. Glen Keith, now bottled in its own right, is the heart of Passport Scotch, one of the fastest growing brands in the world. Source of water
Balloch Hill Springs

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Text Copyright © Gordon Brown 1993
Used by UISGE! with permission by the publisher and the copyright owner.