Glenfiddich Distillery profile
Established in 1887 by William Grant, the Glenfiddich distillery can be found in the Scottish Speyside region. More specifically, the distillery is located in the town of Dufftown, in the glen of the river Fiddich, which is a tributary of the River Spey. Glenfiddich translates into “Valley of the Deer”, which explains the stag used in their logo. The distillery was hand-built by Grant (who previously held a job at the nearby Mortlach distillery) and his 9 children. Construction commenced in 1886, and finished a year later. The original equipment was mostly obtained from the Cardow (currently Cardhu) distillery.
The distillery has remained in the hands of the Grant family, and was the stepping stone for their whisky emporium (which includes the Balvenie and Kininvie distillery (both also located in Dufftown), as well as Ailsa Bay and the Girvan grain distillery in the Lowlands.
Unlike most distilleries in Scotland who reduced production, or even shut down, the Glenfiddich distillery not only remained open (like nearby Glenlivet), but increased production during the 1920s prohibition in the United States. Grants’ grandson Grant Gordon was responsible for this daring move, and it paid off when prohibition ended, as the distillery had aged whiskies ready to meet the demand in the US.
In 1957, Grants’ great-grandson Charles Gordon decided that the distillery would benefit from having a team of copper-smiths onsite, for repairs and maintenance to the stills. In 1959, a cooperage was added to do the same for the casks used.
1961 saw the introduction of the triangular bottle designed by Hans Schleger. The three sides represent the key to whisky; air, water, and malted barley. Two years later, Glenfiddich launched a global marketing campaign putting the whisky in the market as Single Malt. This was unique in two ways: It broke tradition with their marketing solely taking place within Scotland, and established Single Malt as a premium brand, with Scotch drinkers outside Scotland being limited to mostly blended whiskies. Other distilleries jumped on the Single Malt bandwagon about 10-15 years later. In 1969, Glenfiddich was the first distillery to open up a visitor center.
The marketing innovation did not stop there, as Glenfiddich was one of the first distilleries to use tubes and gift tins for packaging, and they were one of the pioneers when it comes to catering to the duty-free market. The advertising obviously paid off, as currently Glenfiddich is the world’s best selling single malt whisky, accounting for roughly 30-35% of the global Single Malt sales.
Trivia: The very first distillation at Glenfiddich was realized on Christmas day 1887! Glenfiddich currently holds the title of “Most awarded single malt” whisky in the world.
All whisky at Glenfiddich is matured in American Bourbon or European Oloroso oak casks. Some of the whiskies enjoy a very special treatment. In warehouse number 8 (out of 43 total, capable of containing some 800,000 casks), they keep special large 700 litre Solera vats. These are kept half-full at all times with whiskies that aged for 15 years or more. Whenever whisky is drawn from the vat, it is replenished with fresh spirit to maintain the same level. Before being bottled, whiskies spend up to 9 months in oak marrying vats; a process unique to Glenfiddich.
The core range consists of:
- 12 Year Old; matured in both American Bourbon and Spanish sherry oak, and finally married and mellowed in oak.
- 15 Year Old; Aged in European, American, and New American, mellowed in a Solera vat, and finally married in Portuguese oak tuns.
- 18 Year Old; Matured in Spanish Oloroso wood and American oak.
- 21 Year Old; Finished in casks that formerly held Caribbean Gran Reserva rum.
Special editions include:
- Malt Master’s edition; double-matured, first in oak casks, and then transferred into Sherry casks.
- Distillery Edition; bottled at 51% ABV, this whisky has been matured in American oak and Spanish oak.
- Age of discovery – Madeira cask; a 19 Year Old, finished in Madeira casks.
- Age of discovery – Bourbon cask; also a 19 Year Old, but exclusively matured in Bourbon casks.
- Rich Oak; first matured in Bourbon and Spanish oak casks, it is then finished in a combination of virgin Spanish and American oak.
Rare and Vintage edition whiskies from Glenfiddich are either released in very limited numbers, or only once, and thus very hard to obtain. This range includes:
- 30 Year Old
- 40 Year Old (limited yearly release)
- 50 Year Old
- Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve; 55 years old, limited to 11 bottles.
- 1937 Rare Collection; 64 years old, 61 bottles only.
- Vintage reserve 1974; a limited release of 1,000 bottles of 36 year old whisky.
- Vintage reserve 1975; 33 years old.
- Vintage reserve 1977.
- Vintage reserve 1978; 30 years old, matured in American oak hogsheads.
Finally, there’s the Cask Collection range, which is exclusive to travel retail:
- Select cask; made from casks that are married in a Solera vat.
- Reserve cask; Matured in Spanish sherry casks, and then married in a Solera vat.
|Water source||Robbie Dhu spring|
|Owned by||William Grant & Sons|
The Glenfiddich Distillery
|Mash tun||10.2 tonnes||2|
|Washback||50,000 litres litres||24 (Douglas fir)|
|Wash still||9,500 litres||10|
|Spirit Still||5,500 litres||16|
|Expected yearly output in LPA (Litres of pure alcohol)||12,500,000|