Glen Grant is one of the most revered whisky producers in Scotland. Located in Rothes, Speyside, the distillery has a long and storied history of producing remarkable Scotch whisky.
The Glen Grant distillery was founded in 1840 by brothers John and James Grant, who had previously owned Aberlour. James was a prominent figure in Scotland; he was involved in the last clan revolt in 1820 – the Raid on Elgin – and founded Morayshire Railway Company. His involvement in the latter drastically changed the fortunes of Scotch, increasing transport links and installing key supply lines. Such was his influence that a train was named Glen Grant in his honour in 1851.
In 1872, another James Grant – nephew of John – took over the distillery. Known as “The Major”, James Grant modernised production processes with the introduction of elongated stills and water cooling purifiers.
There has always been a pioneering spirit at the distillery: Glen Grant is the only distillery named after its owners, they were the first to bottle their own whisky, and the first to adopt electric lighting.
When James “The Major” Grant died in 1931, the Grant name died with him, but the distillery remained independent and family-owned for a further 20 years under his grandson Douglas MacKessak. In 1952, the distillery merged with The Glenlivet owners, George and John Gordon Smith. By the 1970s, the partnership grew again with Longmorn. Seven years later Glen Grant, its sister distillery Caperdonich (built in 1902), Longmorn and Benriach were all acquired by Seagram.
When Pernod Ricard took over Seagram in 2001, Glen Grant was put on the market. Italian beverage giant Gruppo Campari bought the distillery and its stock in 2006 for €115 million. At the time, the Speyside distillery was producing 5.9 million litres of alcohol a year with a dunnage cask store capacity of 12,000 barrels. Italy was, and still is, a significant market for Glen Grant whisky, where – along with other parts of Europe – it is often sold young and mixed.
One of Campari’s first moves was to hire Dennis Malcolm as Master Distiller. Malcolm started his career at Glen Grant in 1961, when he joined as an Apprentice Cooper, but his ties to the distillery date back much further. His father and grandfather both worked at Glen Grant and Malcom was actually born in the distillery grounds in 1946. After learning the ropes for 10 years, Malcolm was running the distillery by 1971 at the tender age of 25.
For the next 50 years, Malcolm worked at some of the biggest names in the whisky world – including The Glenlivet, before returning to Glen Grant for a short spell from 1983-’92 and then for good in 2006. He is one of the longest serving Master Distillers – celebrating his 60th year in the industry in 2021. To commemorate the milestone, Glen Grant launched the oldest whisky in its 180-year history, a 60-year-old single cask bottling matured in an ex-Oloroso Sherry cask.
Independent bottler Gordon & MacPhail has played, and continues to play, an important role in the Speyside distillery’s history, bottling special aged Glen Grant single malts.
Glen Grant has a delicate, light orchard style that has come to define the distillery character.