Blended Scotch Whisky
William Grant & Sons Ltd.
Registered Office: The Glenfiddich Distillery
Dufftown, Banffshire AB55 4DH Scotland
Viewer's Comments about Grant's
At William Grant & Sons Ltd, for five generations an
independent family distiller, we are as passionate today
about making Scotch Whisky as we were when we began. This
passion, combined with the skills of our craftsmen and independent
family spirit, is still at the heart of our blends. The
story of our family, and of our whisky making, goes back
a long way.
The history of the Clan Grant can be traced back to the
14th century when they migrated to Speyside – now
the centre of the Scotch Whisky world – where they
had been given land as reward for services to the king.
Three brothers - Alexander, William and Daniel - fought
in the 1745 rebellion of Jacobites against Hanoverian rule.
They survived the Battle of Culloden but were then forced
to flee and go into hiding. Importantly for us, Alexander
Grant was hidden in Banffshire by one of the Grant clan
chiefs. It was his great-grandson called William, born in
Dufftown on 19th December 1839, who was the founder of the
William Grant had a challenging start to life. He was put
to work at the age of seven, herding the family cattle in
the hills. If it wasn't for the influence of his remarkable
schoolteacher John MacPherson, William may well have remained
a simple herder or farmer, but his excellent schooling proved
a stepping-stone on to greater things. Following time as
an apprentice shoemaker and limeworks employee, in 1866
William Grant became a bookkeeper at a local distillery.
He showed great talent for the whisky production process
and soon became manager of the distillery.
For the twenty years he worked at the Mortlach distillery,
William had a dream of building his own distillery, and
making the 'best dram' in the business ('dram' is the traditional
word for a measure of whisky). In 1886 his dream became
a reality and William and his wife Elizabeth, along with
their nine children – a ready-made work force, and
sufficient raw material to begin a family business –
brought together land, materials and machines, and brought
the Glenfiddich distillery
to life. The first spirit ran from the stills on Christmas
Day in 1887.
In 1898 Pattison's, the largest Scotch whisky blender in
the business, suddenly went bankrupt. This created huge
problems for the Scotch whisky industry. William Grant,
however, saw it as an opportunity. Pattison's – to
whom William Grant sold his whisky – had badly misjudged
the requirements of the whisky market. It had over-produced,
creating a huge unsaleable surplus, and Pattison's quickly
went bankrupt. Following the 'Pattison's Crash', many distillers
sold up, packed up and moved on. Not William Grant. He chose
to expand. Having learnt once and for all time about the
merits of independence, he became blender, bottler and wholesaler
This was when the Grant's blend was born. William's son-in-law
Charles Gordon became the first Grant's salesman –
and despite taking 181 calls to make his first sale, and
503 calls to make the next – the whisky became a big
success. And William's son John Grant was the first exporter,
selling the family whisky to the Hudson Bay Company of Canada.
William Grant was a big-hearted character, popular with
local children, and later a respected member of the local
community. He became a Church Elder and member of the Dufftown
band. He is said to have played a mean cornet!
Grant's has since then, for five generations, always remained
an independent family distiller. It is still fully owned
by the Grant-Gordon family, many of whom are directly involved
in its running. Charles Gordon, great-grandson of the founder,
is Chairman of the company, and other family members have
seats on the Company board.
In 1957 Grant's introduced the now famous triangular bottle.
Though the Grant's blend has always been an exceptionally
smooth dram, its bottle was - at one time - quite ordinary.
It was little different from the bottles of many of other
blends. In 1957, just as sales of whisky were liberalised
after 15 years of rationing caused by the Second World War,
it was time to take advantage of this opportunity and to
People often judge quality as much by their eyes as by
their tastebuds, so it is vital to make a good first impression.
This was where Hans Schleger stepped in. He was a pre-war
refugee from Nazi Germany, working as a consultant with
William Grant & Sons advertising agency of the time.
He later went on to become one of the world's leading designers,
creating memorable work for many clients, including ICI,
Penguin Books and London Transport.
The brief to our bottle designer Hans Schleger was to create
a distinctive, elegant design that would highlight the wonderful
colour of the whisky within. It also had to pack and stack
efficiently. His intuitive response was the triangle, a
shape that held much meaning for Grant's. It was seen to
symbolise the Scottish water, air and barley from which
Grant's Scotch whisky was made. Others saw the three sides
as representing the tradition, heritage and quality of the
Hans' thinking however was much more practical. There was
no triangular bottle on the market, and the triangle was,
in many ways, a much better shape for a bottle than the
circle – the hand naturally closed around it rather
than opening up and weakening one's hold. He first sculpted
the shape out of clay, and then out of plaster. He worked
towards the right size by using a classic method –
that of water displacement. He placed the bottle model in
a bucket full of water and measured the amount of water
displaced. After a few attempts at this – Eureka!
– he was there.
The deliciously complex taste and long smooth lingering
finish of Grant's Scotch Whisky is known and loved throughout
the world. It is enjoyed by whisky drinkers in over 180
countries. It is the Master Blenders' special recipe, a
blend of the finest single malt and grain Scotch Whiskies
– including the company's own Glenfiddich and The
Balvenie Single Malt Scotch Whiskies and its renowned Girvan
Grain Scotch whisky – that creates the magical taste
of Grant's. When blended together, the malts and grains
produce the deliciously complex, long, smooth taste that
is known and loved throughout the world.
the face of Grant's – the bottle, label and advertising
– may have changed a little over the years, the content
of the bottle has not. It is at heart still the same whisky
enjoyed by William Grant, and continues to receive excellent
reviews from distinguished whisky writers and journalists
around the world.
The Grant's blend was born in the hardest of times for the
Scotch whisky industry. Its survival and success is down
to the vision, hard work and passion for whisky making of
William Grant and his family. To this day Grant's has retained
this independent family spirit.
Courtesy of Grant's Scotch Whisky