Glengoyne distillery

Glengoyne is the most southern distillery of the Scottish Highlands on the border between the Scottish Lowlands and Highlands. If your focus is on cost value ratio then the Glengoyne 12 years is their standout. If you’re looking for something more powerful then opt for the Glengoyne 18 years Sherry cask, cask strength!

Glengoyne Whisky

There are distilleries that show up regularly in bars, cafes, at tastings, or even in artwork and advertising. They are the big names in the Scotch scene that everyone knows and everyone has an opinion on. And there are countless distilleries with equally exciting histories, whose whiskies are underscovered gems, unwritten and unsung.

Only 20km away from the centre of Glasgow, Glengoyne is one of the latter. The distillery is idyllically situated on a small brook with nearby waterfall and a growing number of tourists are enjoying the variety of distillery tours.

House style

How does Glengoyne Single Malt taste?Glengonye whiskies are unpeated, sweet and malty with a trace of fresh apples when younger. While several types of barrels are used, Spanish Sherry Butts are dominant in aged Glengoyne. Older bottlings are wonderfully thick and oily with great dry fruit flavor and, as Scottish people like to say, taste like Christmas pudding in bottle.

Production

How is Glengoyne Whisky produced?The distillery uses a Porteus mill, a Traditional mash tun, six wooden Washbacks in which the wort is fermented with Kerry M and MX yeast. Glengoyne uses three stills, one wash still and two spirit stills. The Wash Still has a volume of 16,520 litres, the two Spirit stills each hold 5,000 liters. Glengoyne is distilled particularly slowly to maximise reflux, and thus producing a lighter spirit. Up to € 1.1 million litres of pure alcohol can be produced each year.

Interestingly Glengoyne is so close to the Lowlands, the newly built warehouses on the opposite side of the road are technically in the Lowlands. The new make flows through underground copper pipes into the new warehouses making Glengoyne whisky unique. It is distilled in the Highlands and matured in the Lowlands.

Recommendations

If you’re looking for a cheaper bottling, or to get to know the distillery character of Glengoyne their 12 year offering is absoultey superb. Bourbon barrels make up the bulk of this release, reflected in the fine citrus notes, and the malty character of Glengoyne. At older ages Sherry casks are used more frequentlyfor maturation at Glengoyne. This is particularly noticeable in the two high-quality bottling of the Glengoyne aged 18 and 21 years respectively.

Happily at Glengoyne, the influence of the maturation and the cask type can be assessed entirely on the color as the distillery completely dispenses with spirit caramel in their whiskies. All the more impressive given their deep and rich colouring.

History

There are several sources that tell of illicit distillation in the woods of Dumgoyne, to which a certain George Cornell is said to have belonged. However it was in 1833 that he obtained an official license to distill uisge beatha and founded what was then the Burnfoot distillery on the site of today’s Glengoyne distillery.

He used the water of the Dumgoyne Hills, he leased this source in 1836 for £8, including the land around it, and unable to find any peat on site, began making unpeated whisky from the start.

While Glengoyne distillery is fond of saying that peat has never been used to make their whisky this contradicts Alfred Barnard’s 1887 publication ‘The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom’ where he recorded that Glenguin (as it was called at the time) ‘our guide conducted us to the Kiln, 24 feet square, floored with wire cloth where coke and peat are burned in drying the malt’. Alas this is a contradiction that unfortunately can never be resolved. Either Barnard was mistaken here, or that the site did infact use peat during this time. Regardless in a sense it could be said Glengoyne was never peated, as the distillery only adopted this name in 1906.

The distillery began its life as Burnfoot distillery, at somepoint became known as Glen Guin of Burnfoot before it was renamed Glenguin Distillery in 1861. 1876 saw the distillery takenover by the Lang Brothers of Glasgow before which the present name ‘Glengoyne’ was finally adopted.

The Robertson & Baxter Group took over the Glengoyne distillery in 1965 and subsequently expanded the plant from two to three stills. The Edrington Group later emerged from Robertson & Baxter Group and held Glengoyne until 2003. At this point Glengoyne was transferred to the possession of Ian Macleod Distillers Limited. This makes Glengoyne one of the few distilleries that is not owned by a large corporation but is family-owned.

In addition to numerous renovations at the plant itself in 2005, a large wetland area was also added in 2011. 14,500 plants, including 20 different species, have planted the distillery in 12 ponds of this wetland. The dense reed pipe serves as a natural wastewater treatment plant for waste water from the distillation operations. Within only two days, the waste water called ‘the spent lees’ will be converted into clear water. The now clarified water can be released safely into the local stream, from where it continues to flow towards Loch Lomond. This is a picturesque picture of wild flowers, songbirds, dragonflies and bees, which tumble over the meadows. At the same time, the region’s biodiversity is ensured. This distillery and its surrounding area is certainly worth a visit.

Glengoyne factsheet

Name Pronounced AKA Region Country of Origin
Glengoyne glen*goyne Highlands Scotland
Status Active Whisky Type Website Tours Available
Active 1833 - Present Malt Glengoyne Tour Link
Manager Distiller Blender Owned by Parent Group
Robbie Hughes Ian Macleod Distillers

Glengoyne Timeline:

1833: Established, known as Glenguin Distillery, later as Burnfoot of Dumgoyne

....: Leased by George Connell

1837: No reference in 1837-directory

1851-67: John McLelland

1872-76: Archibald C. McLellan when sold to Lang Brothers, Glasgow and renamed Glen Guin

1876: Bought by Lang Brothers, who used the output in Lang blends

1897: Lang’s incorporated as limited company

c.1905: Renamed Glengoyne

1910: First distillery to close floor maltings

1965: Lang Brothers is bought by Robertson & Baxter group

1966-67: Distillery rebuilt when extended from two to three stills

1967: Stills became steamheated

late 1970s: The whisky is known as a lowland malt. The Highland Line runs hrough the distillery grounds

1999: Owned by Lang Brothers

2003: The distillery, and the company Lang Brothers, were sold to Peter J. Russell & Co., an established firm of blenders and brokers

2004: Owned by Ian Macleod Distillers Ltd.