Ga naar de inhoud


27 years old
54,2 %     
Date distilled December 1971
Date bottled September 1999
Society Cask No. code 2.32
Outturn 597 bottles
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
'Prunes and chocolate'.

An outstanding cask from the first distillery on Speyside to 'go legal' (in 1824). George Smith, a former farmer-smuggler, established this distillery first at Drumin, then at Minmore, where it still stands.

This cask is a first fill sherry butt, and has coloured its contents a deep red-amber, like damson jam. The sweet sherry comes through on the nose, with burnt sugar, but behind this are prunes and a deep apple note; like tarte tatin, with rum baba notes and chocolate covered cherries. The flavour straight is hot and peppery, with lingering chocolate. With water, some of the fruity notes are supressed, but the burn toffee remains, joined by a light smoky note, like an extinquished camp-fire
The flavour is full, smooth, rich and sweet to start, then dries out, with a hint of brim-stone and an dark chocolate aftertaste. A lively whisky in spite of its venerable age and a first rate example of sherry maturation.

12 years old
Unhurried since 1824
George & J.G. Smith
The Glenlivet Distillery

15 years old
59,5 %
Natural High Strenght
Distilled 6/6/77
Bottled October 1992
Cask No. 11302 - 11303
Proprietors: Chivas Brothers Limited
Gordon & Macphail, Elgin

21 years old
Matured in sherry casks
Distilled 10.4.73
Butt no. 3946
Bottled 7.94
Genummerde flessen
380 bottles
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

9 years old
43 %
Matured in sherry casks
Distilled 26.4.85
Bottled 3.95
Cask no. 5543
420  Genummerde flessen
Van Wees, Holland

15 years old
Date distilled Jun 78
Date Bottled Feb 94
Single Malt Scotch Whisky No. code L 2.14
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh

Bleekgeel van kleur. De neus is fris en fruitig. Schoon. Lichte, vriendelijke smaak met peer en perzik. Lange, droge, heel zuivere afdronk.

15 years old
43 %   
One place - One Whisky
George Smith's Original 1824
Pure Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Limited Selection
Export Strenght
George & J.G. Smith, The Glenlivet Distillery, Banffshire

21 years old
40 %    
George & J.G. Smith's Glenlivet Whisky
Gordon & Macphail, Elgin

18 years old
60.2 %
Natural High Strenght
Distilled 13/10/78
Cask No. 16419 - 16423
Bottled November 1996
Proprietor: Chivas Brothers Ltd
Gordon & Macphail, Elgin

Since the time of Mary, Queen of Scots, Scotland and France have had a specially close relationship; their cultures closely intertwined, Yet it has taken all these years for the Scots to take this further step and prove that the dramatic flavour of Single Malt Scotch whisky can be significantly changed by a final 'polish' in new Limousin casks.
The result, a tasteful variation of The Glenlivet whisky, is a complex richness enhan¬ced with a fragrant sweetness that develops into a spicy oakiness. It is we feel, absolutely wonderful

geen leeftijd vermelding
43 %     
Unhurried since 1824
Distillers Special Edition
George & J.G. Smith, The Glenlivet Distillery

The Archive of The Glenlivet

Deep in the cellars of The Glenlivet Distillery there is a small, special place, which contains some of the finest Scotch whisky ever produced. Over the decades, by tradition each distillery manager has selected a few of the most exceptional casks, to put aside to mature to perfection. This is known as 'The Archive' .

Now the present distillery manager Jim Cryle, is proud to offer you this fine limited edition whisky, the very flower of The Archive. Appreciate this glorious Single Malt Whisky, as he does.

21 years old
One place - One whisky
Distillers Special Edition
Distillers Limited Edition
George Smith's Original 1824
Pure Single Malt
George & J.G. Smith,
The Glenlivet Distillery, Banffshire

Now the present distillery manager, Bill Lamb, proudly offers you this special Speyside whisky, the very flower of The Archive. Appreciate this glorious single malt, renowned since before 1824 as one of the finest of all the fine malts of Speyside, as Bill does.

23 years old
54,5 %
Natural Cask Strenght
Distilled 1973
Bottled 1996
Robert Scott & Co, Rutherglen

12 years old
One place - One whisky
Finished in Casks of French Limousin Oak
Limited Edition
George & J.G. Smith,
The Glenlivet Distillery, Banffshire

Casks made of Limousin Oak trees grown in the heart of France have been prized for many centuries for their power to impart rich and delicate flavours to fine wines and cognacs.

Curiously, they have never been used for whisky.

18 years old
43 %   
Unhurried since 1824
George & J.G. Smith,
The Glenlivet Distillery

12 years old
40 %   
Finished in Casks of
American White Oak
Limited Selection
George & J.G. Smith,
The Glenlivet Distillery, Banffshire

By selecting traditional whisky oak casks of The Glenlivet and filling into new casks specially constructed using only American White Oak, the whisky is then directly exposed to the deeply charred surface to create its own distinctive flavour during the finishing period.

33 years old
1967 - 2000
Sample code 2 G C 8003
Signed Jim Cryle
George & J.G. Smith,
The Glenlivet Distillery, Banffshire

Over the decades by tradition, each manager of The Glenlivet Distillery has selected the most exceptional casks to be set aside to mature in The Glenlivet Cellar.

29 years old
Natural High Strenght
Distilled 16/11/73
Bottled 7/6/02
Cask Nos. 8847, 8850
Refill American Hoghsheads
Proprietors: Chivas Brothers Ltd
Gordon & Macphail, Elgin

31 years old
53,32 %
Cask Strenght
Distilled 1967
Bottled 1998
Sample code 2 L V F 006 Wm Lamb
20 cl Bottle In Cedar wood cabinet
George & J.G. Smith.
The Glenlivet Distillery, Banffshire

30 years old
Cask Strenght
Distilled 1968
Bottled 1998
Sample code 2 L V F 007 Wm Lamb
20 cl Bottle In Cedar wood cabinet
George & J.G. Smith.
The Glenlivet Distillery, Banffshire

29 years old
Cask Strenght
Distilled 1969
Bottled 1998
Sample code 2 L V F 008 Wm Lamb
20 cl Bottle In Ceder wood cabinet
George & J.G. Smith.
The Glenlivet Distillery, Banffshire

28 years old
56,42 %  
Distilled 1970
Bottled 1998
Sample code 2 L V F 014 Wm Lamb
20 cl Bottle in Ceder wood cabinet
George & J.G. Smith.
The Glenlivet Distillery, Banffshire

26 years old
Distilled 1972
Bottled 1998
Sample code 2 L V F 010 Wm Lamb
20 cl Bottle In Ceder wood cabinet
George & J.G. Smith.
The Glenlivet Distillery, Banffshire

Aged for 16 years
Non - Chill Filtered
American Oak Bourbon Casks
George & J.G. Smith Ltd 1824
The Glenlivet Distillery,

Colour: Pale gold
Nose: Soft, rich, floral. Notes of sweet hazelnuts and praline, enhanced
with a dry, citrus oakiness.
Taste: Smooth, sweet vanilla and rose petal, balanced by a light spiciness
that develops into a dry oaky finish of considerable lenght and complexity.

Nadurra is Gaelic for natural.

Aged  40 years  
40 %
Distilled 1970
Bottled 2010
The Lonach Whisky Company,
Huntly,  Aberdeenshire

The Lonach Gathering (an annual Clan Gathering held at Strathdon in the Highlands             
of Scotland) has been celebrated since 1822 and is as synonymus with Scotch           
history and tradition as Single Malt Whisky.
The Lonach Highland and Friendly Society was founded to commemorate the majo-            
Rity of John Forbes, son of the ffirst baronet in 1822.
The Lonach day begins with a march by the men of Lonach in full Highland dress,             
the marches route passes by the patrons of the gathering and it is customary that            
those on the march receive a dram from each of the main households they stop at.
The Lonach Gathering is traditionally held on the fourth Saturday in August.            
The mass of marching men stop at several houses including Candacraig the home           
of one of Scotland’s most famous sons Billy Connolly.

40 %
The Glenlivet Distillery, Banffshire

Colour: Bright and lively gold. Nose: Full and bursting with ripe fruity pear and soft fudge aromas. Incredibly sweet and smooth. Palate: Fruity pear flavours with a spicy orange marmalade tang, slightly dry. Finish: Marzipan and fresh Hazelnuts.

Aged  38  years  
48.6 %  
Lifetime Achievement Award 2000
Speyside Highland Malt Single Malt S
cotch Whisky Distilled
Dec 1973
Cask Ref. 1005   
Wood Sherry Oak    
Unchillfiltered and natural colour
The Glenlivet Distillery    
Produced & bottled in Scotland for   
Dram House Associates, Keeper of Quality

Aromas lush & fruity. Creamy chocolate orange rum & raisins. Warm spicy lingering finale.

A “Lifetime Achievement Award” as An Icon of Whisky was given to Mr. “Frisky Whisky”for trading over fifty years. (Jim Milroy) pioneering single malts worldwide, delivering   in the
past to No. 10 Downing St, Taiwan and Tokyo. Happy Drams to all whisky lovers.

This print of the Glenlivet Distillery is an artist’impression painted by Mary Milroy, a
Scottish Artist.

1 9 9 7
Spesyide Single Malt
Aged  16 years
46 %
Distilled: 06/11/97
Cask type: Sherry Butt
Bottled: 30/07/14
778 Bottles
Natural Colour
Non Chillfiltered
Selected by The Ultimate Whisky Com.NL

VINTAGE 1 9 8 1
33 years old
52.3 %
Spesyide Single Malt
Distilled: 05/08/81
Matured un a Sherry Hogshead
Cask no: 9467
Bottled: 19/09/14
162 Numbered Bottles
No Colouring
Selected by The Ultimate Whisky Company.NL

estd. 1824
40 %
Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Matured and Bottled in Scotland
The Glenlivet Distillery, Banffshire

At the heart of The Glenlivet style is its classic fruitiness, the result of the unique wide
lantern – shaped stills favoured by George Smith, for The Glenlivet Founders Reserve.

This fruitiness, is brilliantly complimented by selective use of American first fill casks
creating a malt of exceptional smoothness.

The very quality for which George Smith’s The Glenlivet was widely admired and appreciated
In his day.

Colour: Pale Gold.
Nose: delicate aromas of citrus fruit, notable sweet orange
Palate: Sweet, fruit notes of zesty oranges and pears, with a hint of candy, toffee apples,
well balanced and exceptional smooth
Finish: Long, creamy and smooth

2  0 0 7
10 year
46 %
Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Distilled: 27/03/07
Matured in a 1st Fill Sherry Hogshead
Cask no: 900136
Bottled: 29/10/18
435 Bottles
Bottle no: 40
Natural Colour
Non Chill – Filtration
The Ultimate Whisky Company.NL


Minmore, Banffshire. Licentiehouder: The Glenlivet & Glen Grant Distilleries Ltd. Onderdeel van Chivas Brothers Ltd. Het eigendom van Seagram.
George Smith nam in 1817 een illegale distilleerderij van zijn vader over te Upper Drumin.
Zijn whisky was toen al zo bekend, dat toen koning George IV een bezoek aan Schotland bracht hij om een Glenlivet vroeg.
De Duke of Gordon, grootgrondbezitter stelde in 1823 het 'House of Lords' voor de accijnzen te verminderen, teneinde het illegaal distilleren een halt toe te roepen, één van de eersten die legaal ging was George Smith.
Tesamen met zijn schoonzoon Captain William Grant van de nabij gelegen Auchorachan distilleerderij verdedigden zij de stelling dat alleen zij de titel Glenlivet mochten voeren.

Maar in 1850 stierf William Grant en zijn distilleerderij werd gesloten.
John Gordon Smith, zoon van George, begon een distilleerderij Delnabo in 1849, George nam Delnabo over en veranderde de naam in Cairgorn.
Wat later werden de twee distilleerderijen gesloten en een nieuwe distilleerderij werd ge-boud op Minmore farm, het was toen bekend dat de aan te leggen Speyside Railway hier langs zou gaan.
Dat was belangrijk voor aan- en afvoer van goederen.
Andrew Usher, waarvan wordt gezegd dat hij de uitvinder was van het blenden was hun heel succesvolle verkoopagent.
George Smith stierf in 1871.
In 1880 werd er een proces aangespannen door J.G. Smith dat alleen hij de naam The Glenlivet mocht gebruiken.
De uitslag was dat andere distilleerderijen Glenlivet wel als achtervoegsel bij hun eigen naam mochten gebruiken maar er was en bleef maar één The Glenlivet.
In 1901 werd John Gordon opgevolgd door zijn neef George Smith Grant, de zoon van Captain William Grant.
In 1921 ging The Glenlivet over in de handen van zijn zoon Captain W.H. Smith Grant.
In 1952 gingen George & J.G. Smith Ltd een samenwerking aan met J. & J. Grant van Glen Grant en in 1970 fuseerden zij met Hill Thomson & Co, Ltd en Longmorn - Glenlivet Dis-tilleries Ltd.
In 1978 werden The Glenlivet Distilleries Ltd, zoals de naam na de fusie was, overgenomen door Seagram.
The Glenlivet heeft acht met stoom verhitte ketels met een produktie van 5,5 miljoen liter spirit per jaar.

Het proceswater komt van de Josie's Well. Het koelwater van de rivier Livet. In 1997 werd een bezoekerscentrum geopend.
Op 18 December 2000 wordt Seagram voor 8.15 miljard dollar overgenomen door Diageo en Pernod Ricard. Diageo betaalt 5 miljard (= 61 %) en Pernod de rest.
Pernod Ricard krijgt de Schotse whiskymerken en de distilleerderijen in zijn bezit. De Mash tun is 11.55 ton. De acht Wash backs hebben elk een inhoud van 59000 liter
De vier Wash stills hebben elk een inhoud van 15000 liter, de Spirit stills 10500 liter en worden indirect met stoom verhit.
The Glenlivet kan 5,75 miljoen liter spirit produceren.

Since the time of Mary, Queen of Scots, Scotland and France have had a specially close relationship; their cultures closely intertwined, Yet it has taken all these years for the Scots to take this further step and prove that the dramatic flavour of Single Malt Scotch whisky can be significantly changed by a final 'polish' in new Limousin casks.
The result, a tasteful variation of The Glenlivet whisky, is a complex richness enhanced with a fragrant sweetness that develops into a spicy oakiness. It is we feel, absolutely wonderful.

April 2008
Er worden 6 nieuwe ketels bijgebouwd, en ook de bottellijnen worden vergroot kosten 5000.000 pond

A "Lifetime Achievement Award" as An Icon of Whisky was given to Mr. "Frisky Whisky"for trading over fifty years. (Jim Milroy) pioneering single malts worldwide, delivering   in the past to No. 10 Downing St, Taiwan and Tokyo. Happy Drams to all whisky lovers
This print of the Glenlivet Distillery is an artist'impression painted by Mary Milroy, a Scottish Artist.

At the heart of The Glenlivet style is its classic fruitiness, the result of the unique wide lantern - shaped stills favoured by George Smith, for The Glenlivet Founders Reserve.

This fruitiness, is brilliantly complimented by selective use of American first fill casks creating a malt of exceptional smoothness.

The very quality for which George Smith's The Glenlivet was widely admired and appreciated In his day.

GLENLIVET distilleerderijen met dit achtervoegsel

Aberlour - Glenlivet
Aultmore - Glenlivet
Balmenach - Glenlivet
Balvenie - Glenlivet
Benromach - Glenlivet
Coleburn - Glenlivet
Convalmore - Glenlivet
Cragganmore - Glenlivet
Craigellachie - Glenlivet
Dailuaine - Glenlivet
Dufftown - Glenlivet
Glenburgie - Glenlivet
Glendullan - Glenlivet
Glen  Elgin - Glenlivet
Glenfarclas - Glenlivet
Glen Grant - Glenlivet
Glen Keith - Glenlivet
Glenlossie - Glenlivet
Glen Moray - Glenlivet
Glenrothes - Glenlivet
Imperial - Glenlivet
Longmorn - Glenlivet
Macallan - Glenlivet
Miltonduff - Glenlivet
Speyburn - Glenlivet
Tamdhu - Glenlivet
Tamnavulin - Glenlivet

The Glenlivet, Tomintoul, Tamnavulin
and Braeval are the only Livet distilleries
in the Speyside

Output: 5,8 million litres of alcohol

Cask Storage: 11.300 casks
Water source: Caperdonich Well
Malt Source: Scottish Local
Malt Type: Optic
Malt Storage: 300 Tonnes
Mill Type: Porteus
Grist Storage: 36.84 Tonnes
Mash Tun Construction:Stainless Steel                                
Mash Size: 12.28 Tonnes
No of Wash Backs: 10
Wash Back Construction: Oregon Pine                                
Wash Back Capacity: 90.000 Litres
Yeast: Mauri
No. of Wash Stills: 4
Wash Still Charge:15.300 Litres
Heat Source:Steam
Wash Still Shape:German Helmet Style
No. of Spirit Stills:4
Spirit Still Charges:10.500 Litres
Spirit Still Shape: Onion

Juni 2010

Chivas Brother announced that the Glenlivet distillery has given a 10.000.000 revamp.It means an increase of 75 % in production capacity.

Christian Porta, Chairman Chivas Brothers and Chief Executive

Friday 4th June 2010
It has been announced that Their Royal Highnesses The Prinde of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall (or The Duke and Duchess of Rothesay as the are known in Scotland) will open a new expansion to The Glenlivet Distillery.

Completed earlier this year, the new facility will deliver a 75 % increase in production capacity to satisfy future global demand for The Glenlivet singl;e malt Scotch whisky
Great care has been taken to ensure that we carry on tradition in the new distillery, keeping the wash backs made of Oregon Pine and the six new stills are an exact replica of the old.

Owner: Chivas Brothers, Pernod Ricard
Water Source: Josie's Well, Blairfindy Springs
Malting Capacity:No malting on site
Malt Source: Maltster: Boort Malt
Malt Storage Capacity: 400 tonne approx
Mill Type: Porteous
Grist Storage: one bin which holds 13 tonnes
Mash Tun Construction: Stainless steel full lauter
Mash Size:12.6 tonnes
No. of Wash Backs: 16
Wash Back Construction: Oregon Pine                                                                                
Wash Back Capacity: 59.100 litres                                                                                             
Yeast: Liquid 3331/mash Mauri                                                      
>No. of Wash Stills: 7
Wash Still Charge:15000 litres
Heat Source: Steam coil and  steam heat
Wash Still Shape:Onion (protracted)
No. of Spirit Stills:7
Spirit Still Charge: 10000 litres
Heat Source: Steam heaters
Spirit Still Shape: Onion (protracted)
Current Annual Output: 10,5 million litres      
May 2013
The Glenlivet has launched The Glenlivet Alpha 50 %

Described as "Mystery Expression by Pernod Ricard, the whisky has no age statement no cask information and no tasting notes.

The Apha release numbers 3500 Bottles

Nikki Burgess, Internationa Brand Director for The Glenlivet hopes to create a  conversation about the new release by letting the consumers have their vieuws.

The "truth"of the 'Mystery' will be released a month after the launch of The Glenlivet Alpha

Guardians to select next Glenlivet
September, 2013
Pernod Ricard will turn to The Guardians of The Glenlivet to select the next limited edition release of its top-selling single malt brand, The Glenlivet.
The Glenlivet Guardians' Chapter will be chosen from three new single malt whiskies created by master distiller Alan Winchester.
They will be taken on a series of tasting events in countries such as Australia, USA, UK, India, South Africa and Japan.
The brand's 'Guardians' - a global community of fans of the brand - will sample the whiskies and finally select the expression to become The Glenlivet Guardians' Chapter.
The whiskies are: Classic, a "fruity whisky with soft sweet caramel and toffee notes", Exotic, which is "rich with warm spicy notes" and Revival, a "fruity Scotch with a creamy sweetness".
The whisky with the most votes will become a limited edition, with 2000 9-litre cases to be released globally from February 2014.
Nikki Burgess, brand director for The Glenlivet, said: "With The Glenlivet Guardians' Chapter, we wanted to recognise and reward the knowledge, passion and experience of our Guardians and invite them to write the next chapter in The Glenlivet's history.
"We're excited to see which whisky our Guardians choose and hope it brings members - new and old - closer together.

Chivas expands Glenlivet Nàdurra
April, 2014
Chivas Brothers, the Scotch whisky and premium gin division of Pernod Ricard, has announced it is expanding The Glenlivet Nàdurra brand.
The range will feature different cask experiences as it aims to build on its development in the single malt whisky market.
The Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso is the first new permanent expression in the range, and is described as the first major The Glenlivet bottling in living memory to be matured solely in ex-sherry casks.
The first-fill, ex-Oloroso sherry casks from Jerez in Spain are said to impart rich, distinctive dried fruits aromas, warm spices, and notes of cinnamon and liquorice. The spirit combined with the cask influence, produces a sweetness of dark chocolate and a finish which is long and sweet with a slightly dry, spicy effect from the European oak maturation.
Chivas global brand director Nikki Burgess, said: "The Glenlivet Nàdurra is the purest expression of The Glenlivet that captures the original passion and production methods of George Smith's distillery. We know that whisky connoisseurs appreciate these qualities at the heart of the range, and by expanding the Nàdurra range we aim to consolidate our strong and innovative offering in the craft single malt arena."
Chivas says each expression in the Nàdurra range is crafted in small batches using traditional production methods and is matured in a different cask-type. The range is bottled without chill-filtration, which is said to offer the additional complexity, body, and texture of a whisky that has just been drawn from the cask.
Fresh packaging is said to highlight the handcrafted nature of Nàdurra through batch number and cask-type stamps, an artisanal typeface, an emphasis on the Gaelic translation of Nàdurra, and a handmade finish.
"The Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso presents a rare opportunity to taste The Glenlivet aged exclusively in ex-Oloroso casks, which we anticipate to be extremely popular with whisky fans and an enticing purchase for travellers in travel retail when it launches," said Burgess.
"As we continue to release additional twists on the original The Glenlivet Nàdurra, we look forward to showcasing different cask experiences to an increasing number of discerning drinkers."
The Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso will be introduced to travel retail Europe in May via"immersive experiences to help travellers gain an understanding of the new whisky's taste profile", says the company.
The Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso will be unveiled first at Heinemann Frankfurt airport before launching in London Heathrow Terminal 5 as part of the World Duty Free Whisky Festival 2014.
In Frankfurt B-East and Heathrow T5, travellers will also be invited to enjoy a dram of the new expression while playing a game of pool thanks to the installation of a miniature pool table in the dedicated brand space.

Pernod Ricard Travel Retail unveils The Glenlivet Winchester Collection
October, 2014
Pernod Ricard Travel Retail has introduced the first collection of rare 50 Year Old single malt scotch whiskies from The Glenlivet Winchester Collection.
Vintage 1964 is the first release from the collection. Eleven of the 100 bottle available worldwide will be sold in Travel Retail across Europe, Asia and Pacific from mid-October.
Nikki Burgess, global brand director for The Glenlivet, said: "The allocation of these bottles of hand-crafted Vintage 1964 to Pernod Ricard Travel Retail is a statement that reflects the growing appetite of high net worth passengers for extraordinary unique expressions.
"Travel Retail is an increasingly critical channel for luxury products and offers huge potential for growth as customers search for the latest premium products in airport," Burgess said.
Pernod Ricard Travel Retail Europe's allocation will be unveiled at World Duty Free stores in Heathrow Terminal 2 and 5 on 24 October.
Nigel Sandals, Liquor Category buying manager UK at World Duty Free Group, added: "It is incredibly exciting to be launching two bottles of this luxury expression in the World Duty Free Stores at Heathrow Terminal 2 and Terminal 5, and we are delighted to be partnering with The Glenlivet for this rare release. This partnership highlights the enduring benchmark of quality that is set by both The Glenlivet and World Duty Free Group."
Eight bottles will be available from Pernod Ricard Travel Retail Asia, including Singapore's Changi Airport.  One bottle has been allocated to Pernod Ricard Travel Retail Pacific to feature on the connoisseur's wall at Sydney Airport.

Glenlivet comes from the Gaelic liobh all = smooth flowing one in reference to the river.

After a recent expansion and refurb it is one of the most modern distilleries in Speyside with a vast Brigg’s mash tun which sends clear wort to wooden washbacks. Distillation, which is slow, takes place in two stillhouses, in seven sets of stills.

George Smith’s greatest achievement wasn’t simply the taking out of a licence, but his decision to make a new style of whisky. By the 1860s, The Glenlivet was noted for producing a spirit with a ‘pineapple’ note, evidence that the floral, estery character seen today has a long history – and one which broke with the heavy, dense, rich styles prevalent at that time.

Although The Glenlivet is widely believed to be the oldest operational distillery in Scotland, it isn’t. That honour goes to Strathisla, while Glen Garioch could be even older. The Glenlivet was however one of the first to take out one of the new licences issued after the passing of the 1823 Excise Act which is accepted as being the starting point of the modern Scotch whisky industry.

George Smith was the man who did it. A farmer (which in those days in this region pretty much meant an illicit distiller), he had the ‘tack’ [rent] of the Upper Drumin farm in the southern part of Glen Livet. As it was his landlord, the Duke of Gordon, who had helped to push the Act through, there was little chance that Smith wouldn’t get a knock on the door from the Duke’s factors ‘persuading’ him to mend his ways.

Not that this was without danger. Whisky smuggling had been underway for almost 40 years by that time and the gangs were both well-established and relatively wealthy. Plenty of the new distilleries were razed to the ground. George Smith famously travelled with a pair of pistols in case he was attacked by his former colleagues.

His venture was a success and his Glenlivet whisky – conceivably made in a lighter style even at this stage – became popular. As the money came in, he took the tacks of Minmore and Nevie and with demand rising, built a second distillery at nearby Delnabo in 1850. His Edinburgh agent, Andrew Usher, then released ‘OVG’ [Old Vatted Glenlivet] initially as vatted malt and then the first recognised blend. Smith’s Glenlivet was at the core of both.

Although the Drumin distillery burned down in 1858, and Delnabo (always suffering from water issues) closed the year after, Smith had started work on a new, larger plant at Minmore which opened in 1859 and still operates today.

‘Glenlivet’ had been used as a shorthand for what we now know as Speyside whiskies since the smuggling era. By the 1860s, the title was being appended to distilleries’ names as far north as Elgin, much to the irritation of the Smith family who had by then trademarked Glenlivet.

In 1881, George’s grandson, George Smith Grant, by then running the family firm, sued the companies who had added Glenlivet to their name. It took a further three years for a compromise resolution to be signed. This allowed the Smith’s distillery to call itself The Glenlivet, while the others could hyphenate their name with ‘-Glenlivet’. Over the years, 26 distilleries have styled themselves in this way although the practice now appears to have died out.

The Glenlivet was always available as single malt, but it wasn’t until after the Second World War that it began its rise. By then the firm was being run by Bill Smith Grant who saw the American market as offering new opportunities for the whisky, making it arguably the first single malt brand of the modern era. That said, even in the 1970s, 95% of its production was for fillings.

In 1952 it merged with Glen Grant, then that firm joined forces with blender Hill, Thompson & Co (owner of Queen Anne and Something Special) and the Longmorn/Benriach distilleries. In 1978, three years after Bill Smith Grant’s death, Seagram (owner of Chivas) paid £46 million for a controlling stake. Soon after, The Glenlivet became the largest selling single malt in America, a position it still holds today.

The mighty Seagram empire was divided up in 2001, with Pernod Ricard and Diageo dividing the spoils between them, with the former taking the Scotch division, renaming it Chivas Brothers. It was its new owner who, a decade later, unveiled a £10m investment which increased the distillery’s capacity by 75%. The aim is now to make The Glenlivet the world’s top selling single malt. Sales now top a million cases a year. When Bill Smith Grant started in the 1950s, it was less than 700 cases.

The distillery runs its own community, The Glenlivet Guardians. Membership includes access to a club room in the distillery and chances to assist in special bottlings

Andrew Smith begins distilling at
Upper Drummin distillery
George Smith inherits the business
from his father the Delnabo farms
one of which is situated on the
river Livet and is called Minmore
George buys Delnabo farm
George leases the Minmore and
Nevie farms
George builds a second distillery
at nearby Delnabo
The Drummin distillery burns down;
George Smith buys Minmore farm
Delnabo distillery closes; a new,
larger distillery at Minmore opens
called Glenlivet
or / and
Upper DRummin and Cairngorm
close and the euipment is brought
to Minmore whish is renamed
The Glenlivet Distillery
George Smith cooperates with Andrew
P. Usher and sells the whisky with
great succes
George Smith dies and his son and
grandson, John Gordon Smith and
George Smith Grant, assume control
John Gordon Smith applies for and is
granted the sole rights to the name
The Glenlivet in
A fire forces some of the buildings
to be replaced
Two more stills are added
John Gordon Smith dies
John Gordon's nephew George Smith
Grant takes over
Captain Bill Smith Grant, son of George
Smith Grant takes over
George & J. G Smith Grant merges with
J. & J. Grant of Glen Grant Distillery
and forms the Glenlivet & Glen Grant
The Glenlivet's floor maltings closes
The company merges with Longmorn-
Glenlivet Distilleries and Hill Thomson
&Co to form The Glenlivet Distilleries
The company is acquired by Seagram for
A vistor centre opens
Pernod Ricard and Diageo acquires Seagram's
Spirit & Wine and Pernod Ricard gains con -
ytol of the Chivas Group
Glenlivet French Oak 15 year old replaces
the 12 year old
The Glenlivet Nadurra 16 Year Old and
The Glenlivet 12 year First Fill arereleased in
duty free, The 1972 Cellar Collection  2015
bottles is launched
The Glenlivet XXV is released
Chivas Brothers invests £10m in increasing
The Glenlivet's capacity by 75% to 10.5m
litres per year with 4 new stills installed
A second distillery is build  at the back of
the Warehouses, the exterior is similar
to Dalmunach
Nadurra  Triumph 1991 released
Two new stills are installed
Glenlivet Founder's Reserve launched
For the duty free market the Glenlivet
Master Distiller Reserve is launched
1980 Cellar Collection is released
The Glenlivet Alpha is launched and
the 18 year old Batch Reserve
The Nadurra range is extended with the
launch of Nadurra First Fill Selection and
Nadurra Oloroso also The Glenlivet
Guardian'Chapter and a 50 year old are
No-age-statement whisky The Glenlivet
Founders' Reserve is released and two
expressions for duty free: Solera Vatted
and a Small Batch
The Glenlivet Cipher and the second
edition of the 50 year old are released
Captain's Reserve and Code are released
A new distillery is commissioned
With the Exterior similar to the new Dalmunach Distillery
and the Interior a Replica of Glenburgie Distillery

Enigma and a 14 year Cognac finish are
Capacity: 21.000.000 Ltrs
Spectra, Carribean Reserve and Illicit Still
are released
The Licensed Dram is released
A refurnished Visitor centre is opened in
The Sample Room Collection is released

Shell and tube
Less than 1ppm phenols
9.5m diameter
Traditional Speyside with lamp glass
14 (7 wash, 7 spirit)
Traditional Speyside with lamp glass
Josie's Well
8-20 EBC
Mauri liquide

Pernod Ricard
2001 - present
Chivas Brothers
Seagram Distillers
1977 - 2001
The Glenlivet Distilleries Limited
1970 - 1977
The Glenlivet and Glen Grant Distilleries
1952 - 1970
G & JG Smith
1871 - 1952
George Smith
1817 - 1871
Andrew Smith
1774 - 1817

October 2017 by
Independent bottler Gordon & MacPhail has released The Glenlivet 1943, claimed as one of the oldest and most exclusive single malt whiskies in the world, and priced at £30,000 a bottle.

The Glenlivet 1943
War baby: The spirit ran off the stills at a significant moment in the Second World War
The latest release from the Elgin-based company’s Private Collection range, Private Collection Glenlivet 1943 is limited to only 40 decanters worldwide, bottled at a cask strength of 49.1% abv after spending 70 years in a first-fill Sherry hogshead cask.

The spirit was distilled on 14 January 1943 and filled into Cask 121 – now the last remaining 1943 vintage from Gordon & MacPhail’s considerable stock inventory.

Its distillation coincided with a significant date in the Second World War: the Casablanca Conference attended by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, President Franklin D Roosevelt, General Charles de Gaulle and General Dwight D Eisenhower.

By this time, the war had taken a significant toll on Scotch whisky production, with prices and duty rising fast and rationing restricting the availability of raw ingredients.

According to Gordon & MacPhail, many distilleries closed after October 1942, with The Glenlivet stopping production the following spring.

By the late 1940s and early 1950s, mature whisky was in high demand, meaning that casks from this period were in increasingly short supply.

Cask 121 was selected for filling at The Glenlivet distillery in 1943 by John and George Urquhart, representing the first and second generations of the family that owns Gordon & MacPhail.

The decision to bottle the whisky was taken by Stephen Rankin, a director of the company and John Urquhart’s great-grandson.

He said: ‘This beautiful whisky has been nurtured and cared for by four generations of our family and it gives us enormous pleasure to release this unique and incredibly rare single malt.

‘We believe Private Collection Glenlivet 1943 by Gordon & MacPhail is a malt without comparison from a defining date in the history of a world in conflict.’

The whisky comes in a hand-blown decanter featuring gold engravings of the contours of the land surrounding The Glenlivet distillery, enclosed in a hand-crafted wooden box with a closure depicting the River Spey.

Each numbered decanter comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by Stephen Rankin and a commemorative book by whisky writer Jonny McCormick.

A small number of decanters will be available from Gordon & MacPhail’s shop in South Street, Elgin. Purchasers will also have the opportunity to enjoy an ‘exclusive tasting experience’.

September 2017
The Glenlivet expects to reintroduce its 12-year-old expression in the next three years, following the global success of Founder’s Reserve.

The Glenlivet 12 reintroduced
Long wait: Fans of The Glenlivet 12 will need to wait another three years for its return
The single malt Scotch whisky brand, owned by Chivas Brothers, withdrew its 12-year-old expression in many countries in 2015, replacing it with the no-age-statement Founder’s Reserve to relieve pressure on its aged stocks of whisky.

However the entry-level Founder’s Reserve has proven a success for the group, selling around 280,000 cases a year.

Laurent Lacassagne, CEO of Chivas Brothers said if it were a brand on its own, it would be one of the top five best-selling in the world.

He said that Chivas Brothers had always intended to reintroduce The Glenlivet 12-year-old once stocks recovered.

‘We hit this ceiling a few years ago where we had no option at all – we had to review the portfolio. As a way we came up with this very successful brand of Founder’s Reserve which is more of an entry point whisky.

‘We initially kept 12 in some key markets, but the success of Founder’s – we are looking at around 300,000 cases, which is big – has given us the key to continue our growth and keep the momentum on the brand.

‘And finally it’s also taking a little bit of pressure off the aged range, especially the 12-year-old.’

Pressure reliever: The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve was introduced in 2015 as a no-age-statement malt

Lacassagne added that as availability of the 12-year-old grows, it will be reintroduced to The Glenlivet range, alongside Founder’s Reserve, in select markets.

‘We believe that in the next three years we will reintroduce 12 in a range,’ he said.

The Glenlivet is already the world’s biggest-selling single malt whisky (tied with William Grant & Sons’ Glenfiddich), selling over one million cases per year.

However, expansion works at The Glenlivet distillery in Speyside are already well underway, with the final phase due to complete in June 2018.

The development is expected to double production capacity at the distillery from 10.5 million lpa (litres per annum) to 21m lpa.

Chivas Brothers has also revealed its gin brands – Beefeater, Plymouth and Seagrams – will be divested into a separate portfolio called the Gin Hub, to allow a greater focus on the company’s Scotch brands.

Lacassagne said: ‘Scotch is the main reason for doing the Gin Hub, to have the focus, the push on this segment, so we have an organisation that’s focused only on whisky.’

February 2018
The Glenlivet 12 year old
Welcome return: British fans of The Glenlivet 12 Year Old have waited years for the malt’s comeback
The single malt expression was removed from shelves in 2015, and replaced by the no-age-statement Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve as the distillery sought to manage its dwindling stocks of maturing whisky.

In September last year, Laurent Lacassagne, CEO of Chivas Brothers which owns The Glenlivet as well as the Aberlour and Ballantine’s whiskies, said the 12-year-old would be reintroduced within the next three years as stocks gradually recover.

Now the distiller has confirmed the UK will see a limited number of bottles available from July, although not every market will see it reintroduced so soon.

‘We’ll see it in the UK in small quantities,’ said Glen Brasington, marketing director, strategy, business development and services at Chivas Brothers. ‘It was roughly two years ago we expanded The Glenlivet distillery so now we are able to start supplying strategic markets.

‘We’ll transition the introduction back in because we still have a very important business with Founder’s Reserve, but people do want the 12-year-old.’

The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve, introduced in 2015, has been one of the biggest growth drivers for the single malt brand, accounting for just under a quarter of all Glenlivet sales.

The expansion of the Speyside distillery, which doubled capacity from 10.5 million lpa (litres per annum) to 21m lpa, will be completed this summer.

The news comes as Chivas Brothers revealed a 1.6% increase in sales during the first half of its 2017/18 financial year, driven by strong sales of Chivas Regal and Ballantine’s in China.

March 2018
The Glenlivet distillery has released a new single malt whisky without cask information or tasting notes attached, challenging Scotch drinkers to uncover the information themselves.

Glenlivet Code black bottle
Enigmatic bottling: The code on the back label can be scanned to unlock an interactive experience
Inspired by British code breakers such as Alan Turing, Glenlivet Code is said to adhere to the distillery’s ‘smooth and fruity’ house style while including some ‘additional twists’.

Purchasers can scan a code on the back of the whisky’s opaque packaging using the Shazam app on their smartphone, in order to reveal an interactive tasting experience hosted by a ‘hologram’ of Glenlivet’s master distiller Alan Winchester.

They are then able to select four aromas for the nose, four flavours for the palate and the intensity of each. At the end of the challenge, drinkers will be given a score based on how well their tasting notes match those of Winchester.

‘This year’s limited edition is a labyrinth of flavours that will test the senses of even the most discerning whisky drinker and we’re excited to invite consumers worldwide to take on the challenge,’ said Winchester.

The Glenlivet Code is available globally with an RRP of US$120. The product’s official tasting notes will not be publicly released until the end of 2018.

The release of Glenlivet Code follows similar ‘mystery’ bottlings such as 2016’s Glenlivet Cipher, which also featured an interactive code-cracking experience and an opaque bottle, and Glenlivet Alpha in 2013.

May 2018
The Glenlivet is releasing a new whisky it’s claiming to be the ‘first major single malt finished in Cognac casks’.

The Glenlivet Captain's Reserve
Cognac finish: The Glenlivet Captain's Reserve has been finished in Cognac casks for six months
The expression, called The Glenlivet Captain’s Reserve, has been matured in a mixture of ex-Bourbon and Sherry casks, before being finished in ex-Cognac casks for at least six months.

The Glenlivet Captain’s Reserve has been named in honour of Captain William (Bill) Smith Grant, the great grandson of The Glenlivet founder George Smith, who has ties with France having served there in WWI.

Unveiled during a Glenlivet tasting led by master distiller Alan Winchester at the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, the no-age-statement expression is already available to purchase from the distillery for £50 for a 70cl bottle.

Captain’s Reserve, which is bottled at 40% abv and has notes of ‘mandarins in syrup, ripe poached pears and chocolate dipped raisins’, will sit above Glenlivet 15 Year Old in the range.

Aside from being available at the distillery in Moray, Captain’s Reserve will be launched into global travel retail later this month, with a release in global whisky markets later in the summer.

Other Scotch whiskies matured in Cognac casks include Bruichladdich Cuvée 640 Eroica

August 2018
A 70-year-old Glenlivet bottled by Gordon & MacPhail is estimated to sell for £30,000-£40,000 at auction this week.

Private Collection Glenlivet 1943 in presentation box
Old soul: The 1943 bottling is predicted to hit big numbers at auction on Friday
The Rare & Collectable Whisky Auction will take place on Friday (17 August) at McTear’s Auctioneers in Glasgow, with the Glenlivet 1943 expected to attract ‘considerable interest’ from potential buyers.

‘We have seen some exceptional bottles come through the doors at McTear’s over the years and there is no doubt this sits as one of the most magnificent whiskies we have had the privilege to auction,’ said McTear’s whisky expert Graeme Maxwell.

The Private Collection Glenlivet 1943 is one of only 42 bottles released by Gordon & MacPhail in 2017 at £30,000 each.

The whisky has been fully matured in Cask #121, a European oak ex-Sherry cask laid down by first generation Gordon & MacPhail owner John Urquhart.

It was eventually released three generations later by Stephen Rankin, Urquhart’s great-grandson and current Gordon & MacPhail director of prestige.

‘The creation of this stunning single malt has been a true family affair, with generations of the Urquhart family ensuring that the finished product takes its rightful place as one of the finest single malt whiskies on the planet,’ said Maxwell.

The whisky is bottled in a hand-blown decanter featuring gold engravings of the land surrounding the Glenlivet distillery, and a presentation box depicting the River Spey.

In addition to the Private Collection Glenlivet 1943, the Rare & Collectable Whisky Auction will feature 235 different lots including rare bottlings of Macallan, Springbank, Dalmore and Bowmore.

December 2018
Gordon & MacPhail (G&M) has released what it claims is the ‘oldest’ Caol Ila to have been bottled – a 50-year-old single cask whisky – alongside a 64-year-old Glenlivet, as the latest additions to its Private Collection range.

Caol Ila 50-year-old and Glenlivet 64-year-old Gordon & MacPhail
Long maturation: The 1954 Glenlivet and 1968 Caol Ila were both aged in Sherry casks
The Caol Ila bottling, distilled in 1968, has been matured in a refill Sherry hogshead and bottled at a cask strength of 52.5% abv.

Said to contain ‘a gentle Sherry influence’ with ‘a lingering finish of bonfire embers entwined with lemon zest’, only 199 of the 70cl decanters have been created, priced at £7,500 each.

The Glenlivet 1954 single cask bottling was aged in a refill Sherry butt and bottled at a cask strength of 41% abv.

Said to deliver notes of ‘golden syrup, stewed fruit, and dark chocolate with spicy black peppercorn’, just 222 of the 70cl decanters exist, priced at £9,950 each.

Both casks have been selected by Stuart Urquhart, associate director of whisky supply for G&M and part of the Urquhart family dynasty, who have owned the business since its inception in 1895.

Stephen Rankin, director of prestige and fourth generation member of the Urquhart family, said: ‘These latest releases epitomise the expertise and commitment that has gone into pairing spirit and cask over 123 years and four generations of the Urquhart family.’

Both whiskies will be available worldwide, although prices in international markets may vary.

Last month G&M unveiled a new look for its Private Collection bottlings, including redesigned packaging with vertical ridges and veneered wooden gift boxes for each whisky in the range.

The redesign was the latest update in a year of change for the bottler, after it overhauled its portfolio of products in April.

December 2018
Speyside distillery The Glenlivet is celebrating Dubai Duty Free’s 35th anniversary with a new 35-year-old single malt.

The Glenlivet 35 Year Old Dubai Duty Free 35th anniversary
Lasting link: The Glenlivet 35 Year Old honours the distillery's relationship with Dubai Duty Free
Only 35 bottles of The Glenlivet 35 Year Old Dubai Duty Free Exclusive edition have been produced, and are available at Dubai International Airport from December for around US$10,000 each.

The Glenlivet master distiller Alan Winchester said: ‘Befitting of this anniversary and in celebration of our long-lasting relationship with Dubai Duty Free, we matured this exclusive edition for over 35 years, in a hand-selected cask carefully chosen for its rich character and exceptional quality.

‘Crafted under the watchful eye of our team of artisans, only 35 bottles have ever been produced, with its rarity equalled only by its quality.’

The expression was matured in an ‘oak hogshead’ and is described as having ‘ripe peach, sweet pear and strawberry jam notes on the nose’ and notes of ‘luscious tropical sweet kiwi, honey dew melon and a hint of cinnamon with ginger biscuits’ on the palate.

Each edition is individually numbered and enclosed in a handcrafted wooden box marked ‘Dubai Duty Free Exclusive’, along with to a signed letter from Alan Winchester

note peek through a creamy maltiness. The tart notes help cut through the underlying syrupy sweetness. The influences of the bourbon barrel ageing are noticeable.

Finish: Medium length with a delicate herbal piquant aftertaste

In short, a light, accessible, classic dram, loaded with fruits and made for sharing with friends appreciative of the lighter Speyside types of whisky.

Glenlivet Distillery (2002) 58.4% ABV

Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice Collection November 2018
Colour: Lightest gold
Region: Speyside
Distilled: Thursday, 5 November, 2002
Bottled: Thursday, 6 September, 2018
Years old: 15
Cask No.: 800772
Cask Type: First fill bourbon barrel
Outturn: 200 bottles
Batch: 18/090

Connoisseurs Choice Tasting Notes :
Aroma: Delicate fruit blossom aromas layer
over vanilla and poached pear. With time,
rhubarb and raspberry notes develop and
mix with smooth white chocolate and fresh

Taste: Intense summer fruit and pressed
green apple flavours initially; undertones
of chocolate
nut praline unfurl. Hints of fresh ginger
complement a drying, slightly grassy, edge.

Finish: A charming dram. Delicate and
refined with a lingering charred oak note.

Personal tasting notes Official sample
provided by Gordon & MacPhail

Nose: I found this a little thin. Yes there are
definitely fruit notes evident, especially apple
and a citric tang. Rhubarb and vanilla custard
dominate other more delicate floral notes.

Taste: Not very complex. It is simple and light with
a big taste of sweetened stewed apples cut through
by an acidic tartness of grapefruit or gooseberries.
In the background there’s a discernible taste of a nut
flavour milk chocolate.

Finish: Delicate with a hint of bitterness provided
by the charred oak.

Its floral aspect, lightness and general tastes
of summer make it a suitable dram for sociable summer

May 2019
The Glenlivet has given its range a ‘bold’ redesign in order to ‘embrace the next generation of single malt drinkers’.

The Glenlivet’s new look includes colour-coded labels
The Speyside distillery has introduced a new look across its entire core range, which consists of The Glenlivet Founders Reserve, Captain’s Reserve, 12-, 15- and 18-year-old single malts.

Most noticeably the 12-year-old, which was reintroduced to global markets in 2018 following a period of stock shortages, has switched its green glass bottle for a clear one.

Each bottle is now colour-coded to ‘help it stand out’, while a curved label has been added for consistency across the range.

The Glenlivet 18 Year Old will have its label printed directly onto the bottle.

Miriam Eceolaza, marketing director for The Glenlivet, said: ‘The Glenlivet packaging update isn’t about changing our whiskies, because we know they are great.

‘It’s about creating new designs that beautifully reflect the brand’s rich history, while showcasing our contemporary approach and vision.

‘We hope that the modern, yet timeless new look will appeal to our existing drinkers, but also invite those who are yet to discover single malt Scotch into the fold.’

The newly designed range is being introduced to the US in May before being rolled out globally.

The Glenlivet claimed the redesign is the ‘latest major change’ in its aim to ‘open up the category to a new generation of whisky drinkers’.

US Exclusive
Fruity & Spicy
Fragrant and fruity, with Parma violets,
wild strawberries, blackcurrants and fat
black grapes. There’s a patisserie element
in sugar-dusted almond croissants. Tannic
grape skin and crunchy malt keep things
from becoming too sweet.

Glenlivet’s signature green apple and citrus lift
with hedgerow fruits thrown into the mix –
blackcurrants, redcurrants and a slightly sour
raspberry coulis. There’s weight in liquorice root
and milk chocolate, while spice sneaks in courtesy
of cinnamon buns.

Bitter dark chocolate, liquorice and more blackcurrants.

Fruity and warming. The Cognac influence doesn’t
steal the show, this is very much still Glenlivet. Can
someone bring me back a bottle from the US please?

Huddled up in a Speyside bothy, Dreaming of
sun-drenched French vineyards.

From illicit beginnings to its status as an archetype of ‘the Speyside style’, the remote Glenlivet valley has played a hugely influential role in shaping the modern world of Scotch whisky. Iain Russell reports.

Worm tubs: In 1890, Glenlivet whisky would have been very different to today (Illustrated London News)
Glenlivet was once celebrated as much more than ‘just’ the home of a great single malt brand. This scenic valley in rural Banffshire has had an enormous influence on the development and character of the Scotch whisky industry – quite disproportionate to its size and population. And its whiskies have shaped and defined what we think of today as the Speyside ‘style’.

The River Livet is formed by the confluence of two streams high in the foothills of the Grampian mountains. It flows gently for nearly nine miles north through the broad verdant glen to which it gives its name, before emptying in to the River Aven, a tributary of the mighty Spey. Today, the name is pronounced ‘livit’, but it was traditionally called ‘leevit’ by the Gaelic-speaking people who lived there.  

The glen was inaccessible by road until the 1820s, and was often cut off from the surrounding countryside by heavy rains and snow. Even now, the spectacular Braes of Glenlivet, at the southern end of the valley, retain a mysterious, Brigadoon-like aura.

William Gordon of Bogfoutain, who farmed at Auchorachan in the 18th century, is the earliest known distiller in Glenlivet. It was recorded that he ‘acquired a considerable fortune, chiefly by his industry as a tenant and by distilling and retail of whisky’. By the time of his death in 1790, many of his neighbours had joined him as whisky-makers, to supplement their incomes from farming.   

Glenlivet whisky was transported in small casks called ‘ankers’

The area’s population was estimated at about 2,000 people in the early 19th century, when there were believed to be up to 200 small stills at work in the glen – none with a permit to do so legally. It was, quite literally, a cottage industry: the women of the house were often responsible for brewing and for tending to the family’s small pot still while the men worked in the fields and pastures.   

Its remoteness made it difficult to enforce the Excise laws in the glen. Gangs of smugglers bought and carried the whisky south, usually in small casks, or ankers, slung across the backs of sturdy ponies.

Smuggled ‘Glenlivet’, distilled slowly in pot stills using malted bere or barley, became Scotland’s most sought-after whisky and fetched a higher price than the more fiery products of licensed Lowland distilleries.  

Such was its fame that distillers in neighbouring glens began to use the name for their own whisky and, by the early 19th century, ‘Glenlivet’ had become the popular generic name for the Highland pot still ‘style’ – much as Cheddar came to be the name given to a popular type of cheese, and London to a style of gin.  

What did this ‘Glenlivet’ whisky taste like? We have no tasting notes in the modern sense, but most contemporary observers wrote of a flavoursome drink – ‘mild as mother’s milk’, in the words of Elizabeth Grant of Rothiemurchus, describing a well-matured Glenlivet.

The Glenlivet continued to source peat from Faemussach Moss well into the 20th century

It was also characterised by a distinctive ‘peat reek’: the glen’s inhabitants relied almost entirely on peat for heating and cooking, but also for drying their malt.   

With big profits to be made, Glenlivet smugglers became increasingly bold and reckless, and fought pitched battles with the Excisemen who tried to intercept their convoys en route to Scotland’s towns and cities.

The landowner, the Duke of Gordon, had turned a blind eye to the illicit trade because it enabled tenants to earn cash with which to pay their rents. But growing condemnation of the lawlessness on his estates forced him to take action.  

After the passing of the Excise Act in 1823, making it easier for small distillers to operate in the Highlands, the Duke announced that any tenants found distilling illegally in the glen would be prosecuted to the full extent of the Excise laws and, if convicted, evicted from their farms. At the same time, he encouraged people to take out licences to distil, and to pay duty on their spirits.

George Smith, a farmer at Upper Drumin and a grandson of Gordon of Bogfoutain, was one of the new ‘entered’ distillers. Another was Captain William Grant, who revived distilling at Auchorachan.

By about 1924, up-to-date machinery was being used in Glenlivet

Some of their neighbours did not take kindly to these new enterprises, as they knew that licensed distilleries would bring a permanent Excise presence to the glen. Smith had to mount a round-the-clock armed guard at his premises, after he received threats to burn down his buildings. Eventually, however, soldiers were deployed in the area to support the Excise officers in stamping out the illicit trade.

The new Glenlivet distilleries found it difficult to compete with the larger distilleries in the south, and most were forced to close within a decade. George Smith, who was effectively bankrupt in 1826, would have gone the same way.

However, the Duke of Gordon realised the importance of his enterprise to the local economy, both as an employer and as a regular and reliable customer for local barley. He provided Smith with financial assistance and helped him find customers to enable him to carry on.  

When the Auchorachan distillery was forced to close in 1854, George Smith was the sole surviving licensed distiller in the glen. He relocated his Glenlivet distillery to his farm at Minmore and, as the demand for single malt from southern whisky blenders soared, his business boomed.

When the popular taste for big, peaty whiskies declined, the distillery simply adapted the traditional Glenlivet style. Accessing supplies of coke through the new Strathspey Railway, it began to produce a less peated whisky with a rich, fat character and a pronounced ‘pineapple’ flavour

This new style of Glenlivet was very popular with the big Lowland blending houses, and was consciously imitated by the new wave of distilleries opening in Strathspey in the later 19th century.  

Smith’s son, John Gordon Smith, subsequently tried to register ‘Glenlivet’ as a trademark, but he and his successors were unable to prevent others using it. The licensed trade, for example, continued to classify whiskies from the Strathspey area as ‘Glenlivets’ until a new name, ‘Speyside’ was invented for the category.

Meanwhile, legal action taken in the 1880s failed to win sole rights to use the name: it didn’t help the Smiths’ cause that their agent named its popular brand ‘Usher’s Old Vatted Glenlivet’, even though it was a blended Scotch, and contained only a very small proportion of whisky from Minmore.  

Eventually, the definite article was added to the distillery name, and the brand which the trade had referred to as ‘Smith’s Glenlivet’ became ‘The’ Glenlivet.   

Famous for its whisky, Glenlivet was also well-known as the birthplace and training ground of some of the most influential personalities in the Scotch whisky trade. The Grants of Glenfarclas, for example, were originally George Smith’s neighbours.

John Smith of Cragganmore was rumoured to be one of George Smith’s illegitimate children, and James Grant, the son of the distillery manager at Auchorachan, was a key figure in the history of Highland Park.

Invergordon’s Tamnavulin distillery was built in the glen in 1966

The whisky wheeler-dealer Jimmy Barclay, Sam Bronfman’s Mr Fix-it in Scotland in the 1930s, and the man who bottled Chivas Regal for Seagram Distillers in the 1950s, was also born in the glen.

And of course there were the Smiths themselves. George and his son John Gordon Smith were followed by George’s grandson, George Smith Grant. As president of the North of Scotland Malt Distillers’ Association, he led the malt whisky distillers in their doomed fight against the big blenders in 1909, in the ‘What is Whisky’ case.

The founder’s great-grandson, Bill Smith Grant, spearheaded the drive to re-establish the market for single malts in the US after Prohibition ended in 1933. He worked tirelessly to establish The Glenlivet there after the war, and it has remained the best-selling single malt in the US ever since.

The Glenlivet’s monopoly of whisky-making in the glen ended in the 1960s. In 1966, Invergordon Distillers built a new distillery at Tamnavulin, primarily to provide single malt for blends. Tamnavulin closed in 1995, two years after the parent company was acquired by Whyte & Mackay, but reopened in 2007.

Braeval was built by Chivas Brothers in 1973 and was originally named Braes of Glenlivet. It was one of the first fully-automated distilleries in the country, but its greatest claim to fame is probably that it was built at 365m above sea level – and as a result competes with Dalwhinnie for the title of the highest distillery in Scotland.

To many, Glenlivet is the cradle of Scotch whisky, a remote and isolated glen that was teeming with sma’ stills in the lawless days that preceded licensed distillation. Tom Bruce-Gardyne takes a walk on the wild side.

In from the cold: George Smith took out a licence for The Glenlivet in 1824
Alfred Barnard was ‘a man with a mission – and a tape measure,’ wrote Richard Joynson in his foreword to the centenary edition of the book by the great Victorian bagger of distilleries, first published in 1887. However, sometimes Barnard’s obsession with measuring every mash tun and counting every rivet was swept aside by the sheer beauty of the landscape…

‘We shall never forget our ride of 20 miles…’ he wrote. ‘We proceeded by the Spey side, one of the most rapid and beautiful rivers in Scotland, through the plantations and copses of Ballindalloch, up mountain roads, across highland moors, and past old Benrinnes, standing out like a mighty giant against the clear sky, the scene changing at every turn of the road like a bit of fairyland, until at last we came in sight of Glenlivet.’

Early this autumn, when the trees were just starting to turn, I retraced his steps, stopping first by the river, upstream of Ballindalloch. There was a lone fisherman out in the middle, casting his fly to the far side.

‘Any joy?’ I asked the ghillie watching from the bank. He shook his head. The water was low, the sun too bright and there were ‘nae fush’. So, not like the 19th century when, according to legend, the Spey was stiff with salmon.

It was through hunting, shooting and fishing that many a Victorian gent from the south got his first taste of whisky, a taste that was later acquired back home through Scotch and soda.

Back on the A95, the main drag through Speyside, there is no escaping Tormore as it looms up beside the roadside with its granite, whitewashed bulk, towering chimney stack and topiary hedges.

Built in 1960 as the first Scotch distillery that century, it encapsulates an incredible post-war optimism that was not to last. By the early 1980s, the talk within the industry was all about closures, mothballs and three-day weeks.

A few miles on and somewhat smaller in scale is the brand-new Ballindalloch distillery, whose name is splashed across the front in block caps as though it were on Islay, if you think of Laphroaig or Ardbeg, for example.

This is followed by its claim to fame, that it is a ‘single estate distillery’, that of the MacPherson-Grants. It only fired up its stills last September, but already feels part of the landscape as if it were yet another survivor of Speyside’s late Victorian whisky bonanza.

Converted from an old farm steading with a traditional wooden worm tub poking out on one side, all that is missing is a pagoda roof. Sadly, the distillery was shut, so I drove on to Glenlivet.

'Like a bit of fairyland': Alfred Barnard was enchanted by the Glenlivet landscape

I wondered what Alfred Barnard would have made of it all, once he had got over the shock of motor cars and the demise of the local railway that opened 20 years before he got here, and closed a century later.

The speed of getting to Glenlivet distillery today and the sheer scale of the place with its 14 stills working around the clock would have blown him away. But he wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised to discover that it’s now the world’s top-selling single malt.

‘Wasn’t it ever thus?’ he would have muttered, unaware of Glenfiddich’s long supremacy. ‘Smith’s Glenlivet,’ he wrote back in the 1880s, ‘has become a household word and the whisky is appreciated in every country.’

His book missed the real Speyside boom, when 21 distilleries were established here in the 1890s, many of them beside the railway track.

It was the advent of the Strathspey line in 1863 between Dufftown and Abernethy, and its connection with the Inverness-Perth mainline three years later, that put this whisky region firmly on the map.

But as a suitably romantic Victorian, he preferred to believe it was all due to those illicit roots deep in the glen. Describing a ‘scene of majestic grandeur’ with ‘distant mountains, grim and bare’, he regaled his readers with tales of smugglers clambering over the hills ‘with kegs of whisky lashed to their backs’.

There may have been a certain grandeur to the barren uplands or braes of Glenlivet beyond the distillery, but I hadn’t come across any ‘fairyland’ yet. Nor was there any real sense of remoteness in the sunshine, with a smooth tarmac road spooling southwards over the hills.

‘Well,’ says Alan Winchester, Glenlivet’s master distiller, ‘come back in January or February, when the braes are cut off for a week. If you go hill-walking in the snow, you do get that feeling of isolation and vastness … that sense of space and emptiness. I haven’t been there, but it’s what I expect the tundra’s like.’

In the year to July 1824, there were 3,000 reports of illicit distilling and estimates of 400 stills working in this glen and neighbouring Cabrach and Glenrinnes, according to the excise accounts for the Elgin collection.

That was the year George Smith came in from the cold, took out a licence for his still at Upper Drumin farm, founded Glenlivet and basically kick-started the Scotch malt whisky industry.

His early struggle against the local bootleggers and how he kept a pair of hair-trigger pistols tucked in his belt is an oft-repeated tale. As is an early request from a certain celebrity.

No sooner had he squeezed into his kilt and flesh-coloured tights, than the ‘portly Hanoverian’, aka King George IV, was keen to score some illicit Glenlivet on his famous 1822 State visit to Edinburgh.

Elizabeth Grant of Rothiemurchus, 60 miles south, wrote that ‘the King drank nothing else’ in her Memoirs of a Highland Lady. It sounds like a slight exaggeration, but she obliged him by raiding her cellar for ‘whiskey, long in wood, long in uncorked bottles, mild as milk and with the true contraband goût in it.’

It’s a quote Winchester can recite in his sleep, but how, I ask, had this southerner who had never set foot in Scotland before ever heard of the stuff?

‘Oh, that’s easy,’ he replies. ‘It was Sir Walter Scott, and it was to make the King look hip.’

Sir Walter was to the King what Alastair Campbell was to Tony Blair, according to Winchester, who believes the allure of ‘forbidden fruit’ remained part of the whisky’s appeal long after the distillery was licensed.

‘We’ve always been very clever at weaving in the romance,’ he says. ‘John Grant of Glen Grant used to sell legal Glenlivet as illicit whisky with the “true contraband goût”.’ Before long, distillers way down the Spey were cashing in on the Glenlivet name as a suffix – a practice which continued late into the 20th century.

Much imitated: The Glenlivet's name was taken by a wide array of rival distilleries nearby

It was during the 1960s and 1970s that Glenfiddich pioneered the great single malt revolution, according to almost every whisky book and article, but you wonder why The Glenlivet never really challenged this.

After all, it was probably selling a few thousand cases a year by then in the US – a market it had been in since the 1930s with those miniatures of The Glenlivet sold on Pullman trains. Still, no hard feelings – for on leaving the distillery there is a sign to Glenfiddich. I, however, turned the other way and headed south.

The road climbs gently past plantations of fir trees with rough grazing in the foreground and heather-clad hills beyond.

Higher up are the grouse moors, distinguishable by their occasional blackened patches where the heather has been burnt to rejuvenate it and provide the birds with cover. Time to walk and try to imagine the glen’s bootlegging past that had so captivated Barnard.

The ground appeared sound from the road, but underfoot it soon sucked and squelched at my boots. The whole area is oozing with brackish spring water that would have been used for making whisky, while transforming the plant life into peat, albeit over tens of thousands of years.

Presumably it was through the burning of local peat that these whiskies absorbed any trace of heather, though not any more. With the exception of Balvenie, the kilns and floor maltings of Speyside are long gone.

Yet we insist on finding heather honey on the nose, like the salt and sea spray that defines maritime malts like Old Pulteney. Is it all just in our heads?

I got back in the car and drove to Tomintoul, the highest village in Scotland, built in 1776 by the Duke of Gordon to house flax workers brought in from outside.

As a business venture for his sprawling, 250,000-acre estate, flax proved a disaster and the workers (who were Protestant, unlike most of the locals) soon turned to making whisky instead.

Meanwhile, a few miles away, over the ridge to the east, the Catholic seminary of Scalan was preparing young men for the priesthood and sending them to Rome.

The original building was burnt to the ground in 1746 after the Battle of Culloden, and had to retreat even deeper into the braes of Glenlivet to escape persecution.

Perhaps that, more than illicit whisky, is testament to how isolated and remote this glen in Upper Speyside once was.

The Glenlivet opens visitor centre following refurbishment
July, 2021

The Glenlivet has opened its newly refurbished distillery and visitor centre in Speyside after undergoing 18 months of renovations.

The new site now offers visitors with exclusive bottlings, immersive tours and rare whisky tastings and is open to the public from 1 July.

Visitors will also see an archive wall of the distillery’s rarest bottles while also trialling some of The Glenlivet’s most exclusive whiskies in the sampling room surrounded by hundreds of samples.

Miriam Eceolaza, director of The Glenlivet, said: “The Glenlivet is a symbol of Speyside, and after 18 months of renovations, we can’t wait to open the doors to our local communities and bring whisky lovers into our new visitor experience, as we continue to push boundaries and break tradition within single malt whisky.

“It’s a true immersion in to the iconic Speyside region, walking guests through our stunning indoor field of local barley, tasting from our old and rare archives, experimenting with our famous cocktail capsules and taking a unique piece of Speyside home with our straight from the cask personalised bottling.”

Quite tropical on the nose. On the palate, bright, fresh, and fruity. A dash of water opens it up further, and brings melon and green apples to the fore. It’s only in the long, drying finish that the salty Campbeltown “funk” appears. A remarkably well-integrated whisky, and probably our favorite of the year.

Gordon & Macphail Glenlivet 1949

Close-up ib a bottle of Gordon & Macphail Glenlivet 1949 scotch
Credit: Gordon & Macphail
The adage of “the older, the better” in whisky is complete nonsense. Actually, it’s often a bit of a scam. Aging for decades can see the wood overpower the spirit, leaving an oaky, flabby mess of a whisky that cannot be saved by crassly expensive packaging.

The risk is real; malts over fifty or sixty years old will cost you tens of thousands of dollars.

The answer is independent bottlers. These often family-owned, multi-generational businesses have built reputations on ordering unaged, new-make spirit from distilleries across Scotland and filling their own casks. If some are duds, they can afford to discard them.

Gordon & Macphail have been aging malts longer than most, and this 1949 bottling of a single cask from Glenlivet Distillery shows why they’re trusted to get old whiskies right.

The cask is a ”refill,” so has been used to age another Scotch whisky before being filled. Its very first contents were sherry—likely oloroso—which often imparts whiskies with rich, fruity notes.

Artificial Intelligence

AI Requires Greater Emotional Intelligence from CEOs
JANUARY 22, 2024

Corporate leaders have to anticipate and adapt to the changes artificial intelligence brings, says Penta Group president Matt McDonald.

The choice of a refill was intentional; that previous batch of Scotch has all but drained the sherry soaked staves of the cask, preventing the subtleties of Glenlivet’s fruit-forward spirit from being smothered.

It has paid off (as the price shows). For a 74 year-old, this is remarkably fresh and vibrant. We’re getting baked fruits. Pineapple tarte tatin, perhaps? The cask has yielded just shy of two hundred bottles, so this won’t be an easy one to find but, every bit worth the hunt

The Glenlivet 32yo ‘Lost In Time’ 62.4% This shows greater depth and obvious maturity with a heavy rosa rugosa element dominating followed by quince, light oak and chocolate. It’s all rather lovely. The floral elements and fragrant fruits are there on the palate but the delivery’s blurred by the strength. Water brings out talcum powder and rose- scented face cream and while things remain on the hot side this is pretty classy. ****
Terug naar de inhoud