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The rich history of Glenfiddich









Glenfiddich is one of three William Grant-owned whisky distilleries, in close proximity to each other to the north of Dufftown. Founded in 1886, by William Grant the Glenfiddich distillery is currently one of but three distilleries to bottle on site and houses stills with a total yearly capacity of ten million litres. 

The Glenfiddich matures its single-malt whisky in its onsite warehouses with a capacity of 800,000 casks. It was the first distillery with a visitor centre, which receives 125,000 visitors per year.

Glenfiddich is the number one top-selling single malt whisky not only in the UK, but also globally. Rather than competing directly, the Glenfiddich distillery concentrated on single malt sales and in 1963 became the first Scotch whisky to be internationaly marketed as such.

Historical highlights


1886 - William Grant fulfils a lifelong ambition and starts building his own distillery with the help of his nine children and a single stone mason. He names it Glenfiddich, Gaelic for Valley of the Deer. After a year of hard labour the first drop of spirit falls from the copper stills on Christmas Day 1887.


1909 - Charles Gordon, William’s son in law, embarks on a year long world tour to find new markets and to put Glenfiddich on the map in 5 continents.


1957 – Coppersmiths are introduced at the Distillery. They are rare and skilled craftsmen, always on hand to build and tend to the uniquely shaped and sized copper stills of Glenfiddich.



1961 - Water, air and malted barley. A trinity expertly crafted to make a Glenfiddich whisky. It inspires influential designer Hans Schleger to create a radical design of the time, the triangular bottle, characteristic for Glenfiddich.



1963
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Sandy Grant Gordon, great grandson of William makes Glenfiddich single malt the first to be actively promoted outside Scotland. Consumers around the world used to drinking blended whisky, are initiated to the delights of single malt. Until then a well-kept secret of the Scots.

1991 - One of the most collectable and rare whiskies is released. The first ever vatting of 50 Year Old Glenfiddich. Married to perfection from nine casks laid down in the 1930s, honouring each of William Grant‘s children who helped to build the family distillery..



1998
- The fifth Malt Master of Glenfiddich creates the Solera Vat. A pioneering process used to craft the 15 Year Old. An expression, which to this day is awarded for its complex and intense flavours.


2001
- Release of the oldest single malt whisky. In 1937, cask 843 was filled and began its 64-year journey. Along the way, while ten consecutive Warehouse Masters watched over it, leaving only 61 bottles of this very rare whisky.


Glenfiddich production process

The life of Glenfiddich whisky starts in the mash tun. Barley is ground into rough flour and mixed with heated Robbie Dhu springwater. Rotating mash knives lift the mash, encouraging the barley starch to convert into fermentable sugars. The springwater absorbs these sugars and after six hours, a dark syrupy liquid called ‘wort’ is obtained.

 





After cooling down the wort is pumped into giant wooden fermentation vats. Yeast is added, the temperature soars as fermentation takes over and the sugar is converted to alcohol. After two or three days, a rich brown ‘wash’ is left, ready for destillation in the copper stills.




The shapes of the copper stills are strictly kept identical to those bought by founder William Grant. Since 1957 Glenfiddich have had specialist craftsman onsite tending to all 28 of the uniquely shaped and sized copper stills. Today Glenfiddich is one of the few distilleries who still does.

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The process of distillation starts with the slowly heating of the wash, almost to boiling point causing the alcohol to vaporise into the narrowing still neck.







The warehouses of Glenfiddich are stacked with casks of gently maturing single malt Scotch whisky. The casks are watched over by experienced warehousemen, checking casks for leaks, taking samples for the Malt Master and keeping a watchful eye over the marrying process.

10- Cellar Overview

Glenfiddich is using casks of American oak and Spanish Oloroso oak. The American casks once held bourbon, the Spanish held sherry. The casks are filled after adding Robbie Dhu springwater to the new-make spirit. Casks spend long years in the damp warehouses.

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When they have reached the desired maturity, the selected casks are emptied into large, Portuguese oak marrying tuns. 

Here they rest with whiskies of the same age or older up to nine month mellowing and building smooth, harmonious consistency.

Springwater is added to create just the right alcohol by volume for each expression.

The Malt Master decides when the now fully crafted single malt is bottled.

                      




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