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Glenfiddich Malt Whisky Distillery History
In September 1886, after 20 years of saving from his annual salary of £100, William Grant could finally realise his dream of creating “the best dram in the valley”. He bought some second-hand distillery equipment and land near the River Fiddich in Speyside- the heart of the Scottish Highlands. Here Grant, with his wife, seven sons, two daughters and one stonemason built the Glenfiddich distillery with their bare hands. The entire project cost £800. On Christmas day in 1887, William Grant and Son’s Glenfiddich Pure Malt Whisky ran from the stills.
Inspired by William Grant’s success, rival distilleries began to mushroom in the area. Grant’s response was to purchase more land and water rights, and in 1892 this former cattle-herder of the Duke of Fife became master of the Duke of Fife’s castle- Balvenie.
He converted his castle into his second distillery (this time he could afford to hire a workforce). Balvenie remains the only distillery in the Highlands to farm its own barley.
The biggest disaster ever to hit the Scotch whisky trade proved a blessing in disguise to William Grant’s fledgling company. In 1898, Pattison Limited, the biggest whisky wholesalers and blenders in Scotland and Grants biggest customer, went bankrupt. With Pattison’s collapse, the country was filled with unsold surplus stock and many distillers were permanently ruined. Grant himself had massive debt, but his response was characteristic of his adventurous spirit. He decided to expand from distilling to wholesale, blending and exporting.
In 1903, still feeling the repercussions of the 1898 Pattison crash, Willliam Grant brought his son in law, Charles Gordon into the firm. He sent Gordon and his own son Charles Grant, on an export drive. They set up a whisky store in Glasgow, but after six weeks and 503 calls, Charles Gordon had only sold 12 bottles and Charles Grant just two cases. Through sheer dogged determination, more business began to trickle in. Enough so, that in 1904 William Grant opened his first official export office in Blackburn, Lancashire to meet growing demand. That same year, William Grant’s son John, made the company’s first overseas export trip.
In autumn 1904 John set sail for Canada, and in 1905 established the company’s first agencies in Canada and the USA. Inspired by the success of overseas sales in North America, in 1909 Charles Gordon undertook an extraordinary tour of the East in search of new markets. He went to India, Singapore, Japan, Australia and finally New Zealand before returning home in 1910. Surprisingly it wasn’t until 1911 the Grant family ventured into the European market and the first agencies were set up in Scandinavia, Germany and Holland.
Rationing efforts during World War I coincided with increasing prohibitionist sentiment to cut into the growth of the Scottish whisky industry. A major blow, at least in the short term, was the passage of the Immature Spirits Act in 1915, which barred sales of whisky that had been aged for less than two (later three) years. While the Act spelled the end of large numbers of distillers, it would later provide one of the major selling points for Scottish whisky. Nonetheless, continued raw materials shortages during the war put an end to production in 1917.
Grant did not resume production again until 1919 and the following year faced a new threat to its business, as prohibition sentiment swept across many of its major markets. While Prohibition was enacted most famously in the United States, the ban on alcohol extended into Canada, most of Scandinavia, Belgium, and Russia as well. The drop in whisky sales nearly wiped out the Scottish industry; by the end of Prohibition, only six Scottish distilleries remained in operation, including both the Glenfiddich and Balvenie distilleries.
William Grant himself did not live to see the end of Prohibition. By the time of his death in 1923, a new generation of the Grant Gordon family, and in particular William Grant Gordon, had joined the company. The younger Grant Gordon persuaded the company to increase its production despite the drop off in sales. In this way, the company was prepared to meet the surge in demand as countries began dropping their prohibition efforts in the early 1920s. In this way, Grant not only edged out potential newcomers, it also was able to present a higher-quality whisky that had spent more years aging.
Not much has changed at the Glenfiddich Distillery since the first spirit ran from the stills on Christmas Day, 1887. It is still independent; owned and run by the fifth generation of the same family. Our founder, William Grant, aspired to create "the best dram in the valley". He achieved it, and we maintain it--through a single-minded dedication to craftsmanship and quality throughout every stage of production.
Today, Glenfiddich has grown to become the world's most popular single malt Scotch whisky, enjoyed in homes and bars in every continent of the world. Yet despite increased demand, any temptation to alter or compromise the production technique has been firmly resisted.
The Glenfiddich Distillery
Telephone: +44 (0) 1340 820 373
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Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whisky Distillery Bottlings Every Year Counts
Glenfiddich 12 Year Old
Glenfiddich 15 Year Old
Glenfiddich 18 Year Old
Glenfiddich 21 Year Old
Glenfiddich Rich Oak
Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whisky Limited Edtions
Glenfiddich 30 Year Old, 40 Year Old, 50 Year Old
Glenfiddich Age of Discovery Bourbon cask, Maderia Cask, Red Wine Cask,
Glenfiddich Distillery Edition
Glenfiddich Excellance 26 year old
Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve
Glenfiddich Malt Masters Edition
Glenfiddich Spirit of a Nation.
Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix
Glenfiddich Vintage Reserve 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978
Glenfiddich Rare Collection 1937
Glenfiddich Private Vintage 1973
Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whisky Older Distillery Bottlings
Glenfiddich Special Reserve 12 Year Old
Glenfiddich 12 Year Old Caoran Reserve
Glenfiddich 12 Year Old Toasted Oak
Glenfiddich Cask Strength 15 Year Old
Glenfiddich Solera Reserve 15 Year Old
Glenfiddich Ancient Reserve 18 Year Old
Glenfiddich Gran Reserve 21 Year Old
Glenfiddich Havana Reserve 21 Year Old
Glenfiddich Vintage Reserve
Glenfiddich Millenium Reserve 21 Year Old
Various Vintages 1961-1967-1968-1973
Glenfiddich 50 Year Old
Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whisky Independent Bottlings
Founded in 1886 by William Grant
Location Speyside region, Central district Dufftown.
Water Source The Robbie Dhu Springs
Glenfiddich Distilling Equipment
2 Copper Topped Stainless Steel Mash Tuns
24 Douglas fir Washbacks
10 Wash Stills
18 Spirit Stills
Matured mainly in American oak bourbon casks
Also use Oloroso sherry and new oak casks