Glenlivit Whisky Distillery

Glenlivit Whisky Distillery & Story

Glenlivet whisky distillery is in the Scottish Speyside region on the slopes of the River Livet near the confluence with the River Avon.

In 1875 the  distillery won a court case over its name. Since then they are the only distillery that can call itself “The Glenlivet” one of the first regional rulings.

The Glenlivet (glen-liv-it) whisky distillery house style is for a soft fruity creamy whisky. However the distillery does use sherry cask maturation for rich fruity whisky.

How the Glenlivit Whisky Distillery story began

The glen of the Livet has a plentiful supply of clean spring water that makes particularly exclusive whiskies.

Amongst the major distilling districts the Livet valley is the one most deeply set into the mountains. The spring water rises from a granite base having travelled many miles underground.

The mountain location also provides the weather conditions that whisky-distillers prefer during the distilling process, especially the spirit condensers work most effectively if they are cooled by very cold water in a matching cool climate.

Due to its ideal location and conditions there was a great deal of illicit distilling in the area and this was a significant reason for the reputation of the glen. There is evidence that there were a couple of hundred illicit stills in the wild, mountain country around the Livet in the late 1700s and early 1800s

At that time the Highlanders were only permitted to distil whisky on a domestic scale.

The Duke of Gordon proposed more cooperative legislation leading to the proper licensing of whisky distilling.

One of his tenants George Smith, already an established illegal distiller was encouraged by the Duke to take out a license and became the first to apply for a new licence in 1824.

This year is taken as being the official foundation date of the distillery that became known as  “The Glenlivet”. His son John Gordon Smith assisted and eventually succeeded George on his death in 1871.

After distilling on two other locations, Upper Drumin (1824) and Delnabo (1850) nearby, the Smiths built and moved to the distillery’s present site 1n 1858. (George and J.C. Smith Ltd)

Glenlivet was acknowledged as the home of the very best “mountain dew”. Casks of “the real Glenlivet” were to be found in the cellars of all the great houses in the land and it received the Royal stamp of approval.

In 1822, when George IV visited Edinburgh, it was said that “the King drinks nothing but whisky and is an admirable judge of Glenlivet

The reputation of the Glenlivet valley and especially the Glenlivet distillery became a powerful word association with whisky.  Merchants in the cities wanted whisky “from Glenlivet”

Even though there are only three distilleries in the glen a further 18 distilleries were using the Glenlivet in their name or calling their whisky Glenlivet even distilleries as far away  on the coast north of Inverness.

In 1884 the distillery gained the exclusive designation “The Glenlivet” granted in a test case to distinguish it from the other distilleries.

1896 Second pair of stills added plus electricity installed.

John Gordon Smith was succeeded in 1901 by his nephew George Smith Grant During 1921 the distillery passed to Captain W.H. Smith Grant.

Further investment in 1924 resulted in a total of 10 washbacks, 4 stills 16 warehouses with the capacity to store one million gallons,

In 1947 bottling of The Glenlivet resumes for the first time since 1938

George and J.C. Smith Ltd merged with J&J Grant, Glen Grant Distillery in 1952 forming the Glenlivit and Glen Grant Distilleries Ltd

This company merged with the Longmorn-Glenlivet Distillery Ltd in 1970 the name was rationalised to The Glenlivet Distillers Ltd.

Conversion from coal to gas to heat the stills was made in 1972 in the following year two more still were added bringing the total to six. Investment in plant to make cattle feed from by products installed.

The period of independence came to an end when Seagram acquired the company in 1977.

Further two still added in 1978 sales to the US grow by 300%+ a year. First visitor centre opened.

Queens award for Export Achievement awarded in 1981.

Investment to convert stills from gas to steam heated was carried out 1982/86

Acquisition by Pernod Ricard in 2001. The group designates The Glenlivet a global priority brand.

In 2007 The Glenlivet becomes the number 2 Single Malt (From No3) and the second single malt to pass the 500,000 – 9 lite case sales barrier.

2009-2010 Largest expansion to date six new stills. eight new washbacks and new Mashtun added.

4th of June 2010 Official Opening of the distillery Expansion By Prince Charles

The Glenlivit Whisky Distillery

Founded in 1824 by George Smith.

Location;Speyside region Livet district.

Water source, Josie’s Well.

Glenlivet Whisky Distillery Equipment

after the 2010 expansion;

Un-peated malt barley.

13.5 Ton Briggs Stainless steel lauter mash tun with 6 arms

16 Oregon pine washbacks.

7 pairs of  pot stills.

The Glen Livet has put in plans to add two more distilling units. Each fitted out with;

Stainless steel lauter mash tun,

16  washbacks.

7 pairs of  pot stills.

This will triple capacity to well over 30 million litres.

Matured in American oak bourbon casks with a proportion of sherry casks.

The Glenlivet whisky distillery house style is for a soft fruity creamy whisky. However the distillery does use sherry cask maturation for rich fruity whisky.

Glenlivit Whisky Distillery Ariel
Glenlivit Whisky Distillery Logo

Our Top 3 Glenlivet Malt Whiskies

Glenlivit Whisky Distillery New Still house

Take a tour of the Glenlivet distillery

The Glenlivet distillery visitors centre is well worth a visit and regularly run guided tours of the distillery throughout the course of the day. A number of the tours include tasting sessions where you can sample some of the drams they have to offer.

Click here for more information on the Glenlivet visitors centre

Glenlivit Whisky Distillery Original  Still house
Glenlivit Whisky Distillery Dunnage Warehouse

Glenlivet Whisky Distillery Core Range

The Glenlivet distillery core range in the UK consists of;

Founders Reserve (No Age Statement) 12 year old, French Oak Reserve 15 year old, 18 year old, Archive 21 year old and Glenlivet XXV.

The Nadurra range of 3 small batch cask strength: First fill American Oak, Oloroso Cask, and Peated Whisky Cask.

Limited editions of Glenlivet Alpha and Cipher.

Our Glenlivet Whisky Range - In stock and available to buy