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The Glenlivet Distillery History
The glen of the Livet has a plentiful supply of clean spring water that makes particularly exclusive whiskies. Amongst the major distilling districts the Livet valley is the one most deeply set into the mountains. The spring water rises from a granite base having travelled many miles underground. The mountain location also provides the weather conditions that whisky-distillers prefer during the distilling process, especially the spirit condensers work most effectively if they are cooled by very cold water in a matching cool climate.
Due to its ideal location and conditions there was a great deal of illicit distilling in the area and this was a significant reason for the reputation of the glen. There is evidence that there were a couple of hundred illicit stills in the wild, mountain country around the Livet in the late 1700s and early 1800s
At that time the Highlanders were only permitted to distil whisky on a domestic scale. The Duke of Gordon proposed more cooperative legislation leading to the proper licensing of whisky distilling. One of his tenants George Smith, already an established illegal distiller was encouraged by the Duke to take out a license and became the first to apply for a new licence in 1824. This year is taken as being the official foundation date of the distillery that became known as “The Glenlivet”. His son John Gordon Smith assisted and eventually succeeded George on his death in 1871.
After distilling on two other locations, Upper Drumin (1824) and Delnabo (1850) nearby, the Smiths built and moved to the distillery’s present site 1n 1858. (George and J.C. Smith Ltd)
Glenlivet was acknowledged as the home of the very best "mountain dew". Casks of "the real Glenlivet" were to be found in the cellars of all the great houses in the land and it received the Royal stamp of approval. In 1822, when George IV visited Edinburgh, it was said that "the King drinks nothing but whisky and is an admirable judge of Glenlivet
The reputation of the Glenlivet valley and especially the Glenlivet distillery became a powerful word association with whisky. Merchants in the cities wanted whisky "from Glenlivet" Even though there are only three distilleries in the glen a further 18 distilleries were using the Glenlivet in their name or calling their whisky Glenlivet even distilleries as far away on the coast north of Inverness.
In 1884 the distillery gained the exclusive designation "The Glenlivet” granted in a test case to distinguish it from the other distilleries.
1896 Second pair of stills added plus electricity installed.
John Gordon Smith was succeeded in 1901 by his nephew George Smith Grant During 1921 the distillery passed to Captain W.H. Smith Grant.
Further investment in 1924 resulted in a total of 10 washbacks, 4 stills 16 warehouses with the capacity to store one million gallons,
In 1947 bottling of The Glenlivet resumes for the first time since 1938
George and J.C. Smith Ltd merged with J&J Grant, Glen Grant Distillery in 1952 forming the Glenlivit and Glen Grant Distilleries Ltd
This company merged with the Longmorn-Glenlivet Distillery Ltd in 1970 the name was rationalised to The Glenlivet Distillers Ltd.
Conversion from coal to gas to heat the stills was made in 1972 in the following year two more still were added bringing the total to six. Investment in plant to make cattle feed from by products installed.
The period of independence came to an end when Seagram acquired the company in 1977.
Further two still added in 1978 sales to the US grow by 300%+ a year. First visitor centre opened
Queens award for Export Achievement awarded in 1981
Investment to convert stills from gas to steam heated was carried out 1982/86
Acquisition by Pernod Ricard in 2001 The group designates The Glenlivet a global priority brand.
In 2007 The Glenlivet becomes the number 2 Single Malt (From No3) and the second single malt to pass the 500,000 - 9 liter case sales barrier.
2009-2010 Largest expansion to date six new stills. eight new washbacks and new Mashtun added.
4th of June 2010 Official Opening of the distillery Expansion By Prince Charles
Glenlivet Single Malt Scotch Whisky Distillery Bottlings
The Classic Range
12 year old.
15 year old,
18 year old,
21 year old,
Nàdurra 16 Year Old
The Glenlivet 12 Year Old First Fill
The 15 Year Old
Master Distiller's Reserve
The Glenlivet Distillery, Ballindalloch, Banffshire
Tel: +44 (0)1542 783220
The Glenlivet Distillery Visitor Centre Information
Please contact the distillery for details before travelling
+44 (0)1340 821720
Glenlivet Scotch Whisky
Distillery Style Tasting Notes
Nose: Apples, pears, flowery, vanilla.
Palate: Light to medium bodied. Vanilla, cream toffee, malty.
Finish: Long oaky, malty, sweet.
The only distillery allowed to call itself "The Glenlivet"
Founded in 1824 by George Smith
Location Speyside region Livet district
Water source Josie's Well.
Glenlivet Scotch Whisky Distilling Equipment
Un-peated malt barley
Stainless steel lautermash tun
8 Oregon pine washbacks.
8 pot stills
Matured in American oak bourbon casks with a proportion of sherry casks