Glenfiddich

Glenfiddich is more than just the most recognisable and biggest selling single malt Scotch whisky worldwide. It’s also one of the pioneers of the single malt scene today. The mildly fruity Speyside Whisky is a classic example of the world famous whisky region and an exceptional introductory dram. The Glenfiddich 12 years was the first internationally successful single malt whisky and it has remained in the top spot ever since.

Glenfiddich Whisky

Glenfiddich is available practically everywhere and, with its characteristic, triangular-high bottles and the Stagg label, it adorns countless bars and shops worldwide. Thanks to its flattering character and excellent price-performance ratio, Glenfiddich is an ideal entry into the world of Scotch whiskies. Glenfiddich derives its from the valley where the distillery is located and the Fiddich river.

House style

How does Glenfiddich taste whisky?You’ll find lots of green apple, malt and honey notes in virtually every Glenfiddich, their 12 year old especially. Glenfiddich single malt is a true representative of the classic Speyside whisky style with its mild, sweet-fruity and elegant aromas. Glenfiddich single malts are not peated.

Production

How is Glenfiddich produced whisky?The Glenfiddich distillery has three mashtuns, though only two are used continuously, 32 Douglas fir washbacks feed 32 stills over two sites for an annual output of around 13.65 million litres of whisky. This staggering production capacity stands at around 10 times the production capacity of an average distillery which goes someway to explaining why Glenfiddich has earned the nickname ‘the giant’. Glenfiddich matures all of its single malt whisky on site, in it’s enormous complex of 43 warehouses, which have the capacity to hold up to 800,000 casks

Despite the the enormous capacity of Glenfiddich it’s nowhere near enough to meet the current global demand for single malt whisky. Consequently a further expansion of the distillery is planned, which should increase the total capacity to 18-20 million liters per year.

In addition to this vast productive capacity Glenfiddich is noteworthy as she, and her sister distillery Balvenie have their own cooperage on the grounds where faulty barrels can be repaired. Add too this that Glenfiddich is one of the few remaining distilleries in Scottish family ownership it’s a noteworthy distillery and one well worth visiting.

Recommendations:

Glenfiddich 12 years old: The flagship of the distillery and the perfect entry-level single malt. With a fantastic set of basic aromas of bright fruits, vanilla and delicate oak, not super complex but a . 

Glenfiddich 15 years old Solera Reserve: An inexpensive 15-year-old single malt created from the marriage of three different types of casks: Ex-bourbon, ex-sherry and virgin American oak mixed (or vatted) in a unique Solera vat made from oregon pine. Due to the sherry and Virgin Oak influence, the Solera Reserve, in addition to an increased complexity, is considerably darker with more seasonal aromas of winter fruit and spice.

Glenfiddich 21 Reserva Rum Cask Finish: This premium whisky from Glenfiddich spent the last few months of its maturation in former rum barrels and, in addition to the complexity of the age, also gets a cargo of exotic sweet aromas. The author Iain Banks included this whisky in his book ‘Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram’ to his favorite whisky.

History

William Grant, dreamed of producing ‘The best dram in the valley’ for 20 years. In the summer of 1886 he gave up his role as manager at Mortlach distillery, and with the support of his family, he founded Glenfiddich. The distilling equipment was purchased from Mrs Cummings of Cardow (Cardhu) distillery, and production commenced on Christmas Day in 1887. As the Glenfiddich only started production in 1887, the same year Alfred Barnard began his tours, the distillery was not known at the time and so does not appear in the famous standard text ‘The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom’.

In the aftermath of the first world war, production began anew, but in 1920 the United States introduced the Volstead Act and distilleries across the country began closing down. Only six distilleries in this decade were able to maintain production for the duration, William’s grandson Grant Gordon joined the family firm and surprised everyone by increasing Glenfiddich’s whisky production.

In 1957, William Grant’s son-in-law established a cooperage onsite, and today Glenfiddich is one of only a handful of distilleries that maintain their own full-time cooperage. Until 1958 the distillery used its own floor maltings, but as production capacity increased it became impossible for the site to produce the amount needed

1961 saw Glenfiddich introduce their iconic triangular bottles. Designed by the heralded 20th century designer Hans Schleger, each corner represents one of the 3 properties that are required for good single malt - barley, air and water. The triangular bottles are now used for both Grant’s mixed whiskies and Glenfiddich single malt whiskies.

In 1963 a dispute over grain supply resulted in two landmark changes for the Glenfiddich distillery;_The Girvan Grain Distillery was founded in the Lowlands, south of Ayr, in order to ensure a continuous supply of grain whisky available in future._The decision was made to bottle and promote Glenfiddich as a single malt, the first concerted effort to create a global malt whisky brand.

Prior to 1963, most whisky producers had focused on producing blended whisky. The wisdom of the time held that the strong, non-standard, unique taste of single malts would not be ablle to compete with successful and established blended Scotch whisky brands like Johnnie Walker, Chivas Regal, Dewar’s, Buchanan’s or Ballentines. Happily Sandy Grant Gordon, William’s great-grandson, saw things differently. The result today is that virtually every distillery has their own malt bottling, and Glenfiddich is the best selling whisky in the world.

In the late 1960s it was one of the first to be sold in new duty free outlets and in another first in 1969 the distillery’s doors were opened to the public.

In 1998 Glenfiddich introduced Solera Vatting, a process commonly used in the production of wine and brandy, to create its 15 year old expression. The distillery maintain a large vat of whisky that is constantly kept at least half full. This is constantly supplemented with newly produced whisky. Then whisky is sometimes removed for bottling. Glendiddich uses 15 year old whiskies from three different casks - bourbon, sherry and new oak.

Today, alongside Glenfiddich and Balvenie, William Grant & Sons still owns the Kininvie Distillery, which mainly produces Malt Whisky for the famous Blended Malt Monkey Shoulder. In the Lowlands is the Grain Whisky distillery of William Grants & Sons Girvan. This is also where the well-known gin Hendricks gin, who is now part of the portfolio of William Grant & Sons, is also produced. Meanwhile, Girvan with Ailsa Bay has also received a Malt Whisky distillery as a supplement. The two produce diligently whisky for the blended Scotch own brand Grant’s. With the brand and distillery Tullamore Dew, the company has now also entered the emerging Irish whisky industry.

In 2005, Glenfiddich visitors centre went underwent a £1.7 million rebuild and offers multiple distillery tours, a gift shop, bar and restaurant. The new centre now recieves 125,000 visitors a year, and represents a not insignificant financial contribution to the business.

Distillery Factsheet

Name Pronounced AKA Region Country of Origin
Glenfiddich glen*fidd*ick Speyside Scotland
Status Active Whisky Type Website Tours Available
Active 1886 - Present Malt Glenfiddich Tour Link
Manager Distiller Blender Owned by Parent Group
Brian Kinsman William Grant & Sons

Glenfiddich Timeline:

1886-87: Established by William Grant, the son of a tailor in Dufftown. After 20 years of work at Mortlach Distillery and saving money William bought a site near Dufftown. He drew the water from the Robbie Dubh spring and bought the stills and plant second-hand from Cardhu Distillery for £ 120. On Christmas Day 1887 the first Spirit ran

1896: Operated as the Glenfiddich Distillery Co.

1903: Incorporated as William Grant & Sons Ltd.

1957: The triangle shaped bottle was introduced. The products were put into tubes and gift tins

early 1960s: The directors of the company decided to sell the Whisky as a Single Malt, marketing it in the same way as the blends

1964: 4,000 cases of Single Malt were sold

1974: 119,500 cases of Single Malt were sold. The Distillery became the first whisky company to be honoured with the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement

1994?: Now 29 stills (11 wash and 18 spirit), gas- and coal-fired

1999: Owned by William Grants & Sons Ltd.. 745,000 cases of Single Malt were sold

2002: Stills became gasfired

2004: Owned by William Grants & Sons Ltd.