The Whisky Encyclopedia

Glen Garioch

Possibly the oldest distillery in Scotland, though that remains to be verified accounts of the distilleries foundation stretch further back that the 1797 claimed on todays bottles though this may refer to a previous distillery and brewery on which the present distillery was built

Between garbled accounts and the distillery changing hands repeatedly over this period it's hard to be sure exactly what happened until 1837. By all accounts 1837 saw John Mason and Co. the owners of the now lost Strathmeldrum distillery buy Glan Garioch which by that point was outputting 10,000 gallons per year The distillery was expanded with new buildings in 1860s and with new stills in 1984. By the time of Alfred Barnard's visit in 1885/86 the distillery was under the ownership of J.G. Thomson & Co. of Leith and had an annual output is 50,000 gallons

It was around this time in 1877 that Distillery Compant Limited was founded creating a stranglehold on Scottish grain whisky. Seeking indepdence from DCL a group of merchants and blenders including Andrew Usher, John Crabbie and William Sanderson founded North British (NB) grain distillery, at this time William Sanderson & Sons bought a 50% share in Glen Garioch using it as the backbone of a number of blends including the hugely successful Vat 69

Alas it was not to be, between the Pattison scandal, punative tax increases and two world wars this independance could not be sustained and eventually in 1937 Glen Garioch was brought into the DCL family under the guise of their Scotch Malt Distillers Ltd subsidiary (SMD) who ultimately decomissioned the distillery due to production limits and water shortages

Bought and revived by Stanley P Morrison Ltd which would later become Morrison Bowmore Distillers the distillery was expanded and becomes the first distillery to shift to North Sea Gas fired stills, closed again as the group and thus distillery passed into Suntory's ownership it was later revived as a non-peated distillery. The final peated offering was Glen Garioch Vintage 95 unfortunately hard to come by, but well worth trying if you get the chance.

NamePronouncedAKARegionCountry of Origin
Glen Gariochglen geer*ayOld MeldrumHighlandsScotland
StatusActiveWhisky TypeWebsiteTours Available
Not Available
ManagerDistillerBlenderOwned byParent Group
Rachel BarrieMorrison Bowmore Distillers

Glen Garioch Timeline:

1794 : A reference is made by Rev Thomas Tait to a 'lately established' distillery and brewery in Old Meldrum (found in the Statistical account of Scotland)

1797 : The distillery is founded (accounts vary by as to who built the distillery)

1837 : John Mason and Co. the owners of the now lost Strathmeldrum distillery buy Glan Garioch

1884 : The distillery is sold to J.G. Thompson & Co. the Leith wine & spirit merchants

1885 : Or possible 1886 is visited by Alfred Barnard

1886 : William Sanderson & Sons a blender from Leith, and then part owner of the pending North British distillery buys a 50% share in Glen Garioch and the spirit becomes a central component of Vat 69

1901 : A new kiln with twin pagoda similar to that designed by Charles Doig is installed

1908 : William Sanderson dies and is suceeded by his son William Mark Sanderson

1921 : William Mark Sanderson and his partners take 100% share in the distillery

1933 : In a takeover in all but name Booth's Distillers Ltd merges Glen Garioch into their fold of Northern distilleries

1937 : Booth's Distillers Ltd itself is taken over by Distillers Company Ltd (DCL) and managed under their Scotch Malt Distillers Ltd subsidiary

1939 : The distillery was closed for the duration of the Second World War

1968 : Decommisioned and closed due to 'chronic water shortages'

1970 : SMD sells the distillery to Stanley P Morrison Ltd who restarts production

1973 : Glen Garioch is first bottles as a single malt

1977 : Heat from distillation is used to warm greenhouses in which a variety of flowers and tomatoes are grown

1978 : A third still is added and the distillery introduces floor maltings

1982 : Glen Garioch becomes the first distillery to shift to North Sea Gas fired stills

1987 : Stanley P Morrison Ltd changes the company’s name to Morrison Bowmore Distillers

1989 : Japanese distiller Suntory buys a 35% stake in Morrison Bowmore Distillers

1994 : Suntory completely takes over Morrison Bowmore Distillers and the distilleries floor maltings are stopped

1995 : Glen Garioch releases its final ever peated malt Vintage 95 and temporarily ceases production

1997 : The distillery resumes production switching too 100% unpeated malt from November 1997

2009 : The standard range is relaunched

2013 : The distillery releases Virgin Oak