Glenlossie is a beautiful distillery in Speyside, with a splendid pagoda* roof to the old kiln, and stunning onion-shaped stills.
It was founded in the latter half of the 1800s, and since the early 1900s, it has been closely associated with Haig’s blended whisky, so it is rarely seen as a single malt. The only official bottling is a 10 Year Old, from Diageo’s flora and fauna range, first released in 1990, although there was a ‘Manager’s Choice’ single cask from 1999 was released in 2010. But what else do you know about this distillery?
*although often referred to a pagoda roof, it’s technically it’s not a pagoda, the correct term is cupola. Go on, Google it and look at the pictures!
About the distillery
A former manager of the Glendronach distillery, John Duff, along with a few of his friends, founded the Glenlossie distillery in 1876. The distillery was designed to be independent of steam power, utilising the local water source to fill a reservoir above the distillery which was used to drive a large water-wheel.
The distillery takes its name form the valley of the river Lossie, and is situated less than a mile away from the river, and just south of Elgin. There are seven other distilleries situated within a 2.5 mile radius from the Glenlossie distillery: BenRiach, Glen Elgin, Glen Moray, Linkwood, Longmorn, Mannochmore, and Miltonduff.
In 1896 John Duff broke from the original partnership, and one of the partners, along with his nephew, formed the Glenlossie-Glenlivet Distillery Company Limited. They embarked on a programme of expansion and improvements which included building a railway siding for the plant.
Extensions or improvements to the distillery were made in almost every year up until the start of the First World War when distillery was closed by Government order to conserve barley. It remained silent until it was taken over by The Distillers Company Limited in 1919.
Water power was used to run the distillery right up until the First World War. When production restarted in 1919, it was converted to steam power.
The distillery was extensively damaged in a fire in 1929, but was quickly rebuilt and production resumed. However, the fire marked the end of the Glenlossie-Glenlivet distillery company, and the distillery became part of the Scottish Malt Distillers, a subsidiary of DCL.
Production stopped again in 1939 with the world at war, but production re-commenced shortly afterwards, and further expansion and refurbishment took place throughout the 1950’s, eventually converting the plant from steam power to electricity in 1960. The four hand-fired stills were converted to a mechanical stoker system too.
In 1962, DCL’s subsidiary Haig (The UK’s leading blended Scotch at the time, and the blend that accounted for almost all of Glenlossie’s malt) took over the distillery, and a third pair of stills were added to meet the demand.
In 1972 the stills were converted from coal-heating to steam heating from an oil fired boiler.
Today, there are three pairs of stills in the still room. The spirit stills are fitted with purifier pipes between the lyne arms and condensers. These increase reflux, carrying any heavier alcohols which have refluxed out in the lyne arm back into the body of the still to be redistilled. This setup gives the new make spirit a light and grassy character.
Glenlossie was has long been favoured among the blenders, and in 1974 was named one of the twelve ‘top class’ malts. It’s for this reason it’s not often seen as a single malt, and is a major contributor to Diageo’s blended scotch whiskies.
Did you know?
When Alfred Barnard visited the distillery in 1886 he recorded it as the Glen Lossie distillery. Checking local records from that period (thank you Dr. Morgan) it looks likely that Barnard reported the distillery incorrectly, as it is clearly known as the Glenlossie distillery in 1878
The fire engine used to fight the fire in 1929, built by Shand Mason & Co an 1862 is displayed at the Dallas Dhu Distillery museum. It was designed to be pulled by a pair of horses, the engine was driven by steam and could raise steam in about five minutes.
The site now houses two seperate distilleries. Mannochmore was built alongside the Glenlossie distillery in 1971.
Both distilleries share the same water supply; process water from the Bardon Burn, which has its sources in the Mannoch Hills, and cooling water is drawn from the Gedloch Burn and the Burn of Foths
When the Mannochmore distillery started production, the staff were shared between both distilleries, switching back and forth every six months or so. In 2007 this practice ceased, and since then both distilleries have been working full time.
A Dark Grains plant was built in 1969, and this doubled in size when Mannochmore was built. This plant turns the solid matter left over from the mashing and distillation processes into a high protein animal feed.
Further Investment more recently has seen the installation of a bioenergy plant that utilises around 30,000 tonnes of draff per year producing 3.4MW of thermal energy that power the two distilleries and the dark grains plant.
About our bottling(s)
We’re well known for our love of similes and metaphors (and plenty of other nonsense too!) so our label plays on Glenlossie’s well-known onion-shaped stills. The still on our label is actually made of an onion, and in keeping with our onion theme, we have a spring onion lyne arm and garlic-bulb condenser....of course! If you look closely, you’ll see a leek pretending to be the purifier.
We launched our first batch from Glenlossie back in January 2016, a release of just 118 bottles with no age statement. It became our 65th Boutique-y Whisky label, and was awarded a Bronze medal at the Independent Bottlers Challenge in 2016. The second batch came out in September 2016, a 25 Year Old, bottled at 51.1% abv and a rather meagre batch of just 43 bottles!
Our most recent batch, a 17 Year Old, bottled at 48% abv, was announced just before Christmas. There are just 206 bottles with an rrp of £68.95
Nose: Cake mix with hints of desiccated coconut. Floral notes and dry grasses follow
Palate: Coconut creams, malty, grassy, and a peppery spice builds.
Finish: Malty, grassy, hints of anise, while the peppery spices linger.