One of our first releases for 2017 is our fourth release from Speyside Distillery, Glen Keith. A spectacular 24 Year Old with notes of fragrant barley, dried grasses and toasted coriander seeds.
The Glen Keith distillery was founded in 1957, with blended whisky in mind in, it’s matured spirit being destined for Chivas Regal, Passport, and 100 Pipers Blended Scotch Whisky, so rarely seen. The first official bottling, a 10 Year Old, was released in 1993-94, more recently a 17 Year Old has been released under the Distillery Reserve Collection, but what else do you know about this distillery?
About the distillery
The distillery was built in 1957 by Seagram, the then owners of Chivas Regal, virtually next door to Strathisla on the banks of the Isla in one of the town’s old textile mills. It was the first new distillery built in the Speyside region since the great whisky crash of 1898 with production coming online in 1958.
Originally designed for triple distillation, a three still ‘Lowland’ setup was installed, which was very unusual for a Speyside distillery. The tall and slender stills, with their upward angled lyne arms, produce a very light style of whisky, which perfectly suited the style of blended Scotch Seagram’s were producing for the American market.
In 1970, two additional stills were installed alongside the original three. These new stills were the first to be gas-fired in Scotland. Now with five stills in operation, changeover to double distillation commenced, although throughout the 1970’s both triple and double distillation was performed.
In 1980 the distillery was updated and was a pioneer of computerised control systems for almost all aspects of the production.
In 1983 a sixth still was added, and triple distillation finally ceased, with all production switched to the double distillation method.
In 1999 the distillery was mothballed, and two years later Chivas Brothers was sold to present owner Pernod Ricard.
It was once thought that the Glen Keith distillery was going to fall into disrepair and remain silent for good, but in 2012 the decision to recommission the distillery was taken, and a major refurbishment commenced. The distillery officially reopened with spirit once again flowing in April 2013
Up until the distillery was mothballed in 1999 the annual capacity was around 3 million litres of pure alcohol. The reconstruction and refurbishment during 2012 and the old Saladin maltings were ripped out leaving room for a huge full lauter mash tun and an additional six stainless steel washbacks. The stills were refurbished and the original nine wooden washbacks were replaced.
The same three pairs of stills are used, but the improvements made have enabled the distillery to double its capacity to 6 million litres of pure alcohol per year, placing it in the top 15 Scottish single malt distilleries in output volume.
While there is no maturation on site, there is a filling store, and barrels are filled at the distillery before being transported to warehouses not too far away from the distillery.
Did you know?
The distillery experimented with peated versions 1970’s, producing a malt called Glen Isla for filling purposes. Glen Isla was made using peated water tankered across from the Western Isles!
The distillery is considered to be the home of Passport Blended Scotch Whisky, and so its biggest customer is the Master Blender, as almost all its output is reserved for blending.
The Quality Control laboratories for all Pernod Ricard’s Speyside distilleries are located within the Glen Keith Distillery.
About our bottling(s)
We released our first batch back in 2013, it was a release of just 176 bottles, It was very good, Jim Murray gave this a score of 90 Points in his 2014 Whisky Bible.
Batch 2 followed in 2014 but there were just 85 bottles released. We think all of our releases are special, but batch 2 caught the eye, well nose actually, of Jim Murray who awarded it a ‘Liquid Gold’ status in his 2015 Whisky Bible, and we quote "Clean and shimmering with malty clarity: both entices you to taste...but wants to keep you nosing, too... the sugars attached to the barley...oh...my...word!!!"
Batch 3 came along in 2015 and was an even smaller release with just 61 bottles available, but once again it appealed to Jim Murray who awarded this batch 87 points in his 2016 Whisky Bible.
While all three batches sold out quite quickly, there are, if you’re quick, a few ‘Drinks by the Dram’ samples available for batches two and three from the usual suspects.
Let it be known that we don’t go out of our way to please Jim Murray, we simply aim to bottle serious whisky, even if our labels don’t always convey this message. That’s obviously not the case with our Glen Keith label as you will note, it is indeed very serious, just look at how well those Edinburgh Whisky Blog chaps have scrubbed up for the occasion!
And so, to our latest release; Batch 4 has an age statement; twenty four years in the cask, and there are a few more bottles to go round this time, 335 of them to be precise, each numbered from 1 to, you guessed it, 335. They are of course, of natural cask colour, non-chill filtered and at 49.7% abv. Available now from fine retailers now for around £105.
Nose: Fragrant barley, dried grasses and toasted coriander seeds. There’s a savoury meatiness too.
Palate: A creamy mouthfeel with vanilla custard and tinned peaches, fresh melon and a grassy note. A hint of mint comes later which turns chocolatey.
Finish: The melon stays long into the finish then leaves that minty chocolate note.
Off-trade/on-trade enquiries should be directed to our UK distributor, Maverick Drinks
Spot the difference? There’s a change with each release