The first Scotch I ever reviewed was a Glenfiddich 15 Year Old, and I have to say it was the perfect induction not only into scotch itself, but also into the region of Speyside.
The Glenfiddich Distillery, and more aptly, its products, is the most popular and perhaps most famous Scotch on the international market.
Opened in 1886 by the legendary William Grant, who gained his experience at Mortlach Distillery, Glendfiddich is situated in Dufftown. The name Glenfiddich means “Valley of the Deer”, a heralding of the astounding Scottish countryside that surrounds it.
Dufftown is populated by several distilleries, including Glenfiddich’s sister sites, Balvenie and Kininvie, although these were both built in the 20th century after the popularity of Glenfiddich became undeniable.
The distillery was constructed for the price of £800, equal to about £40,000 in today’s money, which considering the million pound budgets that get thrown around these days, doesn’t seem that bad.
Of the £800, a massive £120, around £6,000, was spent solely on purchasing two of Cardow’s old stills (now Cardhu). Clearly these are not exactly something to be picked up your local pound store!
The stills that the distillery uses today are exact replicas of the first two, although there are now an incredible 29 of them. This has increased Glenfiddich’s yearly production rate to a staggering 10,000,000 litres, highlighting just how much demand there is for it. I don’t even want to imagine how many swimming pools that could fill!
An extra feature of Glenfiddich as well as Grant’s blends is the signature triangular bottle. This was first introduced in 1957 and is a brand classic, adding that extra little bit of uniqueness to an already much loved malt.
It was first used to make the bottle stand out on liquor shelves and judging by the popularity of Glenfiddich, definitely seems to have worked!
Then, in 1963, the first single malt was bottled at Glenfiddich and has been dominating the markets ever since, with variations and age expressions appearing all the time.
The distillery is open to tours and is definitely worth a visit. While it is welcoming and informative, the factory itself pulls no punches.
It is very clear about its purpose as a distillery. So although this does not always allow for the quaint charm of some distilleries, it reveals the truth about the effort that goes into creating so much high quality Scotch.
The Grant family still own Glenfiddich today and are in their fifth generation. The company has several other distilleries under their belt but nothing compares to the success of Glenfiddich.
The popularity of the distillery’s products have been rising since the day it opened, when the first single malt ran from its stills on Christmas Day 1887.
The incredible increase of the number of stills, as well as the founding of both Balvenie and Kininvie to supplement the growing demand are testament to this.
It will be interesting to see where the historical brand goes next, in light of the rise of international as well as domestic stars on the whisky market. Although with a 35% market share, Glenfiddich will prove to be a tough obstacle to overcome.
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