Glen Grant Distillery
Glen Grant Distiller deserves to be visited not just to see its original nineteenth century buildings but also the exquisite Victorian garden. The distillery was started in 1840 and is one of the first licensed distilleries in the Scottish Highlands. Located in the Speyside region which is home to many famous Highland distilleries, Glen Grant has the perfect setting for a whisky distillery.
The distillery gets its name from the Grant brothers, John and James who started it. They had the foresight to build it near a source of soft Highland water and a place with access to fine Morayshire barley. The distillery thrived under the leadership Major Grant who took over from his father James in 1872.Its turreted and gabled offices in the Scottish Baronial style of the 1880s are set around a small courtyard. The woodland surroundings are home to a delightful Victorian garden originally created by Major Grant.
Major Grant was a globe trotter who collected fine plant specimens from all over and created a romantic woodland garden. It has now been carefully recreated from old photographs. The garden has woodland paths, log bridges, a lily pond and a heather thatched dram pavilion with a tumbling waterfall beyond. Some trees and plants survive from the turn of the last century.
By the turn of the century the distillery was equipped with refrigeration, electric lighting, a hydraulic warehouse lift and its own fire service. However in many ways modernization was kept away in order to maintain some traditions. The distillery still follows the time honored methods of making fine Scotch whisky making, from the traditional mashing of the barley to the double distillation in the great copper stills. Even today some of the stills are coal fired. The whisky matures as before for years in oak casks.
Major James Grant constructed another distillery across the road known as Glen Grant 2 and connected the two by pipeline. Subsequently it became an independent distillery. His grandson Douglas Mackessack upgraded Glen Grant to make it one of the finest distilleries in Scotland. The distillery produces a light floral single malt whisky with its own distinctive taste and pale gold color. The unusual color of Glen Grant has set it apart from other single malt Scotch whiskies.
In 1953 Glen Grant joined George and JG Smith, the makers of The Glenlivet. In 1972 the group merged with Longnorm Distillery forming Glenlivet Distillers Ltd. This company was bought by Seagram in 1978. The distilleries belonging to the Chivas and Glenlivet Group which were the property of Seagram, were bought by the Pernod-Ricard group in 2001. When Pernod Ricard acquired Allied Domecq the French company did not want to keep all the distilleries. As a result the Glen Grant distillery was sold in 2006 to the Italian group Campari.