Glenfiddich is very special in the scope of Scottish distilleries as it is still managed today by its founders, William Grant & Sons. The distillery was founded between 1886-87 by William Grant, who also founded Balvenie and Mortlach.
The Glenfiddich almost needs no introduction. One of the most prolific distilleries and single malts in the Scottish whisky world, Glenfiddich stands on the hills of Speyside, on the outskirts of the bustling whisky town of Dufftown. What is now probably the best-known 'brand' of single malt whisky in the world has an extremely extensive range of official bottlings. Glenfiddich owns the title as the best selling single malt Scotch whisky. In addition to the varieties of wood finishes and cask strength editions, the core range of different ages of bottlings are comprised of a 12 year old, 15 year old, 18 year old, and 21 year old. Glenfiddich also boasts the oldest single malt on the market: Cask 843, filled in 1937. The 64-year-old malt was watched over by ten malt masters, and after the angel's took their share, only 61 bottles were left.
In regards to independent bottlings of Glenfiddich, there have been only very few carried out over the years. These are very difficult to source as only a few are currently on the market. Although in the past Glenfiddich created its own blends, it currently does only the Grant's, and the single malt is not used in any other exterior blends.
Glenfiddich has an awe-inspiring production capacity, standing at 10 million liters a year, earning it the nic-name of 'the giant'. The water source is the nearby Robbie Dubh. What is even more impressive about both the production capacity and the history of Glenfiddich is that this sprawling but beautiful site was allegedly founded with just £120 of capital. Glenfiddich was also the first site to incorporate the practice of continuous mashing. 24 Douglas fir washbacks and three mash tuns support the production, although only two are used regularly. Glenfiddich boasts another unique facet to its distillery: an on-site bottling line. It is extremely rare for distilleries to have on-site bottling facilities, which makes Glenfiddich's all the more special.
As you would expect for a distillery that has such a phenomenal production capacity, Glenfiddich has no less than 30 stills. These include 10 pear shaped wash stills which have a capacity of 9'000 litres, and twenty spirit stills which have a capacity of 4'500 litres. The spirit stills have a half constricting piece and half a reflux bowl, both of which are very small, located in the intermediate section of the stills. These stills are housed in two stillrooms, and are fired directly with gas. From 1957, Glenfiddich has had on-site coppersmiths, who are responsible for the construction of the stills used in the distillery's production. This was first introduced at the specific demand of Charles Grant, the founder's William Grant great-grandson. In 1974, 16 new stills were installed at the site; bringing capacity up to it's modern day level.
Glenfiddich today buys in its malt, much of which is brought in from the neighboring Balvenie distillery which is also owned by William Grant & Sons. Until 1958 the distillery used its own floor maltings, but as production capacity increased it became impossible for the site to produce the amount needed. The malt that is used in the production of Glenfiddich is unpeated.
Glenfiddich matures all of its single malt whisky on site, in it's enormous complex of 43 warehouses, which have the capacity to hold up to 800'000 casks. Soon after Charles Grant brought coppersmiths onsite in 1957, Gordon Grant built up a dedicated cooperage in 1959. The cooperage stills remains active today, making it one of the last in Scotland. Glenfiddich uses a combination of oak casks such as rum casks from the Caribbean (in the case of 21 year old Gran Reserva), American Bourbon barrels (used for the Ancient Reserve), or sherry butts from Jerez in Spain.
Glenfiddich is very special in the scope of Scottish distilleries as it is still managed today by its founders, William Grant & Sons. The distillery was founded between 1886-87 by William Grant, who also founded Balvenie and Mortlach. The equipment was bought from Mrs Cummings of Cardow Distillery, and launched its production on Christmas Day in 1887. In 1892, William Grant took a break from managing Glenfiddich to found the nearby Balvenie distillery, which is still in the possession of Wm. Grant & Sons. In 1898, Glenfiddich had its own brush with the Pattison crisis. At the time, Pattison was Glenfiddich's biggest customer, as they mass-bought Glenfiddich single malt to use in their blends. When Pattison filed for bankruptcy, the Grant family decided that they would begin to blend their own whisky. Standfast became one of their major blends, and quickly became a business success.
The old woodworking tools of the Glenfiddich Distillery.With the turn of the new century, William Grant formalized the status of Glenfiddich as a family business by creating William Grant & Sons, the official name for the family company. As the twentieth century progressed, Glenfiddich proved its business tenacity on several occasions; it's innovative tactics setting it apart from its peers. In 1923, while prohibition was at its peak, William's grandson Grant Gordon joined the family firm and surprised everyone by increasing the level of production at the distillery. When Prohibition was repealed, Glenfiddich was one of only six Scottish distilleries still operating, and thanks to Gordon's savvy business move, the distillery was ready to meet a new surge in demand for fine, aged single malt. Glenfiddich profited greatly thanks to this smart gamble.
In 1963, Glenfiddich's distinctive three-sided bottle was introduced. The design was created by Hans Schleger, and has since become iconic. This move has been acclaimed as a great marketing technique, quite literally setting Glenfiddich apart from the other bottles on the shelf. This same year, Glenfiddich released their single malt as an official bottling for the first time, defying critics who said that such a venture would not be successful. The sales success allowed Glenfiddich to really build themselves into a 'brand', virtually creating the idea of a single malt range.
The end of the twentieth century continued successfully, with Glenfiddich continuing to expand it's range of single malts, including adding several collectors' editions. In 1998, the malt master at the distillery invented the Solera Vat, which is used in the marrying process of the Glenfiddich 15 year old. The process creates constant flavors over the batches, which have been critically acclaimed. Most recently, Glenfiddich released what became the most expensive Single Malt to ever sell at auction: a 55 year old, the profits from which went to charity.
Glenfiddich was the first distillery to open a reception centre for visitors, back in 1969. In 2005, the visitors centre went through a £1.7 million rebuild. The centre now welcomes 125'000 visitors a year, which provides significant financial support to the site. The visitor centre includes multiple tours of the distillery, a gift shop, bar and restaurant.