Glen Ord

Thomas Mackenzie founded Glen Ord distillery in 1838. Clan MacKenzie has featured heavily in the history and development of the Glen Ord distillery. The distillery lies in the Muir of Ord in the Norther Highlands.

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Information about the Distillery
91 Bottles
Scotland, Highlands
-4.476220 57.523290
Active
Diageo
3 x 17,000 l
4 x 16,000 l
4 x 16,000 l
Normal
3 x 16,000 l
4 x 14,000 l
4 x 14,000 l
Normal
12 x 56,000 l
25 t
1838
12,000,000 l
Average tasting notes Tasting Notes
Calculated from 62 Tasting Notes
i
Nosing
Sweet:
Fruit:
Spices:
Sherry:
Zitrus:
Caramel:
Vanilla:
Herbs:
Dried Fruit:
Nuts:
Peat Smoke:
Chocolate:
Oak:
Leather:
Herb:
Lemon:
Malt:
Apple:
Ginger:
Honey:
Orange:
Floral:
Pear:
Clove:
Alcohol:
Grass:
Peach:
Cinnamon:
Heather:
Barley:
Hay:
Salt:
Plum:
Banana:
Raisin:
Pepper:
Green Apple:
Coconut:
Hazelnut:
Wheat:
Oil:
Cherry:
Tropical Fruit:
Cake:
Maritime Notes:
Tasting
Sweet:
Fruit:
Spices:
Zitrus:
Malt:
Oak:
Sherry:
Peat Smoke:
Vanilla:
Orange:
Caramel:
Chocolate:
Nuts:
Oil:
Herbs:
Lemon:
Heather:
Floral:
Pear:
Honey:
Alcohol:
Herb:
Leather:
Ginger:
Chili:
Apple:
Raisin:
Dark Chocolate:
Peach:
Berries:
Pineapple:
Plum:
Barley:
Hay:
Pepper:
Tobacco:
Date:
Grapefruit:
Almonds:
Cinnamon:
Tropical Fruit:
Cake:
Finish
Spices:
Fruit:
Sweet:
Oak:
Sherry:
Chocolate:
Malt:
Nuts:
Ginger:
Herbs:
Zitrus:
Floral:
Caramel:
Herb:
Lemon:
Dark Chocolate:
Hazelnut:
Oil:
Dried Fruit:
Coffee:
Peat Smoke:
Apple:
Raisin:
Heather:
Barley:
Hay:
Leather:
Pepper:
Pear:
Peach:
Honey:
Alcohol:
Tropical Fruit:
Details about the Distillery

The Whisky

The vast majority of bottlings from the Northern Highland distillery of Glen Ord, which lies just on the “Black Isle”, are already gone. This range of official bottlings produced by the distillery did include a 12 year-old, 15 year-old, 18 year-old, 25 year old, 32 year old and a 36 year old. These older bottlings are hard to source today; with the key feature of the distillery’s official bottlings is the 12-year old bottling. Since 2007, 12-year old Glen Ord has also been released under Diageo’s “Singleton” brand of Malts, orientated towards the Asian market. Independent bottlings performed at the distillery are even harder to come by. Douglas Laing and Signatory Vintage have performed the majority of independent bottlings available on the market today. Douglas Laings’ range of bottlings includes an 11 year old, 14 year old and 21 year old. Signatory’s bottlings have been on the younger side, principally featuring a 14 year old and 16 year old. About 80% of the Single Malt produced at Glen Ord is used in the blending of the Dewar and Johnnie Walker brands.

Far view of Glen Ord
Far view of Glen Ord

The Production

Glen Ord is Diageo’s fourth largest distillery in Scotland. It’s production capacity sits at a very impressive 5 million litres of alcohol a year.  The water used in the process is drawn from Loch nam-Bannach and Loch nam Euan.  

Since the expansion, production at Glen Ord has been split in two, so to speak. The first mash tun with a capacity of 12.5 tonnes was joined by another. While the two mash tuns are still in the same building, the resulting mashes are then split, one going through the 'old' production process and one going through the 'new'. The new production area has 12 washbacks with a capacity of 56,000 litres. With the clear wort and the addition of liquid yeast, a light, grassy and floral wash is created here, which is distilled in the eight new stills. In the old production area there are still ten washbacks and the six old stills. This "double-track" production process works well and the resulting new make spirits are identical. 

Still house at Glen Ord
Still house at Glen Ord

The Pot Stills

Glen Ord’s six pot stills are the driving force of the distillery. The stillroom is filled with three wash stills and three spirit stills. The three wash stills each have a capacity of 17’000 litres, while the spirit stills have a slightly smaller capacity, at 16’000 litres. The wash stills are pear-shaped, being shorter that your average still, with a very broad tapering neck and wide spherical lid. The spirit stills have a flat pear shape, with a wide spherical lid, like a normal pear-shaped still, but with a flat top. The new still house, added in 2015, houses eight more stills, four wash (16,000 litres) and four spirit stills (14,000 litres), which have the same shape. 

In addition to the 'normal' shell&tube condensers, Glen Ord also has other condensers which are used as thermal energy storage. The stored energy is then used throughout the distillery, including in the maltings. In other words, the distillery makes efficient use of its own energy. 

Glen Ord Pot Stills
Glen Ord Pot Stills

Maltings

The Black Isle, the area north of Inverness where Glen Ord is located, is famed as being one of the finest sources of barley in all of Scotland. Bearing this in mind, it isn’t so surprising that Glen Ord is one of only a handful of Scotch distilleries that still possesses on-site maltings. At the same time, it also produces malt for other Diageo distilleries, such as Talisker, Clynelish or Brora. In addition to Black Isle grain, barley from the Lowlands is also used for malting. In the past, they also imported grain from Germany or the Czech Republic, but today they only use Scottish barley

In the industrial style big maltings, the grain is soaked in tanks, whereupon the grain begins to germinate. It takes about a day for this to occur. At the end, you can see a small sprout growing from each grain. Then the contents of each of two soaking tanks are put into a drum where the grain is spread out and rotated. There, the temperature and humidity are controlled and adjusted so that the grain can germinate optimally. This is then laid out on the drying floor, where it dries by using hot air heated by hot water from the distillery. Sometimes gas or peat is also used for smoky malt. Drying is done until there is only 5% moisture left in the grain, which stops the germination process; this takes about 24 hours. 

Peated malt is produced with a strong 100 ppm and then mixed with non-peated malt in such a way that the desired smoke content is created. The malt used in the production of Glen Ord is unpeated. 

Malting Drums
Malting Drums

Warehouse

Due to its high level of production, Glen Ord distillery has a complex of warehouses on-site. The old warehouses are quite a sight, having been blackened by decades of evaporating alcohol. Half of the casks used at the distillery are American White Oak, with the other half being Oloroso Sherry.

In total, there are eight dunnage warehouses at Glen Ord. Three of them were converted and built into a visitor centre in 2021. The other five dunnage warehouses still store the Glen Ord Single Malt for the Singletons and Blends

Inside the Glen Ord Warehouse
Inside the Glen Ord Warehouse

History

Thomas Mackenzie founded Glen Ord distillery in 1838. Clan MacKenzie has featured heavily in the history and development of the Glen Ord distillery. King Alexander III of Scotland granted the land on which the distillery sits, which Thomas MacKenzie inherited, to the MacKenzie family as early as 1263. Thomas MacKenzie licensed the distillery to Ord Distillery Company. The ownership of the distillery passed to Robert Johnstone and D. McLennan. A few years into production, Johnstone took complete control of the distillery, but soon ran into financial difficulties. In 1847 he went bankrupt, and Glen Ord was put up for sale.

The distillery lay silent until 1855, when Alexander McLennan and Thomas McGregor purchased it. Production at the distillery resumed successfully, and McLennan’s widow assumed the management of the distillery after his death in 1870. In 1877, fate intervened in the history of Glen Ord, as it passed back to the MacKenzie clan through the re-marriage of McLennan’s widow to Alexander MacKenzie. Sadly, soon after their marriage, much of the distillery was destroyed in a fire. After Alexander MacKenzie died in 1896, Glen Ord was sold to James Watson & Co. In 1923, Glen Ord changed hands again, this time to Dewars, marking the beginning of the use of their Single Malt in the Blend.  Glen Ord survived a series of other mergers, eventually landing in the possession of DCL. In 1966, the distillery was renovated and expanded, with the number of stills increasing from 2 to 6. In 1985 Glen Ord was acquired by United Distillers & Vintners, who became part of Diageo a decade later.

historical documents
historical documents

Visitor’s Centre

Glen Ord’s visitor centre has an excellent reputation, and includes a tour of the distillery itself and houses a museum

Visitor information

The Glen Ord Distillery
Muir of Ord
Ross-shire
IV6 7UJ
Tel: +44(0)1463-872004
Email: glen.ord.distillery@remove-this.diageo.com 

Chronological rating history

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