GlenDronach Distillery

  • Scotland
  • Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco Spirits Awards in 2018, Global Whisky Distiller of the Year in 2015
Phone Number
  • +441314562679
  • Forgue by, Huntly AB54 6DB, United Kingdom

Worker rolling barrel by historic distillery building.

History of The GlenDronach Distillery


Founding and Early Years

GlenDronach Distillery, located near Forgue, by Huntly, Aberdeenshire in the Highland whisky district, was founded in 1826 by James Allardes.

It was the second distillery to apply for a license under the Excise Act of 1823, which legalized whisky distilling in Scotland. The distillery’s name, GlenDronach, means “valley of the brambles” in Scottish Gaelic.

Ownership Changes and Expansion

Throughout its history, GlenDronach has seen several ownership changes. Teachers and Sons Ltd acquired it around 1960, expanding the number of stills from two to six.

The distillery was mothballed in 1996 and reopened in 2002 by Allied Distillers Limited. It was later owned by Chivas Brothers Ltd (part of Pernod Ricard) and sold to the BenRiach Distillery Company in 2008. Notable owners include Walter Scott in 1881 and Charles Grant, son of the Glenfiddich distillery founder, in 1920.

Modern Developments

The distillery was purchased by Brown-Forman Corporation in April 2016, along with BenRiach and Glenglassaugh distilleries.

GlenDronach is known for its range of whiskies matured in ex-sherry casks, particularly oloroso and PX. The core range includes expressions aged 12, 15, 18, and 21 years.

Distillery Features

GlenDronach draws water from the Dronac burn within its grounds and has its own floor maltings. It operates with two wash stills and two spirit stills.

The distillery is a category B listed building, reflecting its historical and architectural significance.

Whiskey Making Process at The GlenDronach Distillery

Time-Honoured Traditions in Distilling

  • The GlenDronach distillery prides itself on using traditional distilling methods, refined over nearly two centuries.
  • Their whisky is a product of the natural environment, utilizing Highland water from Balnoon hills and Scottish malted barley.
  • These traditional techniques are seen as handcrafted and are integral to the distillery’s identity.

The Unique Blend of Spirit and Sherry Casks

  • A key feature of The GlenDronach’s whisky is the combination of Highland spirit with high-quality Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks from Andalucia, Spain.
  • This fusion imparts depth, complexity, and distinctive character to their whiskies.
  • The process involves traditional equipment like the Porteus malt mill, copper mash tun, and wooden washbacks made of Scottish Larchwood.
  • The distillation process uses saxophone-shaped stills, producing a rich spirit that matures in Spanish oak casks, a crucial factor since 70% of whisky’s flavor comes from its cask.

Focus on Slow Maturation and Meticulous Craftsmanship

  • The distillery emphasizes the slow maturation of its Single Malt whiskies, under the careful watch of their team.
  • Rachel Barrie, the Master Blender, plays a pivotal role in selecting and blending these whiskies.
  • Each step in the whisky-making process is carried out with precision and care, ensuring the production of world-renowned whisky known for its depth, complexity, and character.

Awards Won by The GlenDronach Distillery

  • Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco Spirits Awards in 2018: The GlenDronach 15 Year Old Revival, aged in Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks, was awarded this prestigious accolade, highlighting its exceptional quality.
  • Global Whisky Distiller of the Year in 2015: The BenRiach Distillery Company, which includes The GlenDronach, was honored at the Icons of Whisky Awards. This was a significant achievement, especially for a small, privately-owned, independent company.

The GlenDronach Distillery Tour Information and Experience

General Information

The Visitor Centre is open all year, seven days a week, from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm GMT, offering a glimpse into the production areas and warehouse​​.

Sherry Masterclass

This 1.5-hour tour, priced at £60, focuses on the history of sherry cask maturation. Participants can taste four whiskies and learn about the rich sherry maturation process​​.

The Classic Tour

A one-hour tour, costing £25, includes a walk through the production areas and warehouse, with tastings of three whiskies from the core range, complemented by handmade chocolate truffles​​.

The Boynsmill Experience

This two-hour tour, for £185, delves into the distillery’s history, followed by a tour of production areas and a tasting from the Old and Rare Collection paired with food​​.

Gift Shop and Tasting Bar

Visitors can explore a range of single malts and merchandise, with the option to bottle their own Handfill from selected casks. The Tasting Bar offers a selection of fine single malts, including rare and old whiskies​​​​.

Flask & Barrel Review of The GlenDronach Distillery

As a whisky collector who’s seen a fair share of distilleries, I’ve got to hand it to The GlenDronach Distillery. It’s a solid 4.7 out of 5 in my book. Nestled in the Scottish Highlands, this place has an old-school vibe that’s hard to beat.

First off, the setting is stunning. Rolling hills, that classic Highland charm – it’s like stepping into a whisky lover’s dream. The tour? Fantastic. They take you through their history, which is rich and fascinating. You get to see up close how they craft their single malts, and let me tell you, it’s a treat for any whisky nerd.

Now, the highlight – the tasting. Their expressions, especially those sherry cask-aged beauties, are top-notch. Rich, full-bodied with that signature GlenDronach depth – it’s what they’re known for, and they do not disappoint.

What’s keeping them from a full 5? Well, I felt the tour could have been a bit more interactive, maybe some hands-on elements. And while the staff are knowledgeable, a bit more enthusiasm would’ve been the cherry on top.

But all in all, The GlenDronach Distillery is a must-visit for anyone serious about their whisky. It’s got history, character, and some of the best drams you’ll taste. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

What To Do Nearby The GlenDronach Distillery

Here’s a concise guide on what to do near The GlenDronach Distillery, along with the distances from the distillery:

  • Aberchirder
    • Distance: 8.25 km
    • Location: Huntly, UK
    • Highlights: A beautiful and leisurely town, known for its lush scenery and birdsong. Ideal for a relaxed visit.
  • Leith Hall Garden & Estate
    • Distance: 16.54 km
    • Location: Leith Hall Garden & Estate, Huntly AB54 4NQ, United Kingdom
    • Highlights: A country garden with a large area, featuring beautiful and artistic scenery.
  • Huntly Castle
    • Opening Hours: 9:30-17:30 (Please check current timings)
    • Distance: 9.89 km
    • Location: Castle St, Huntly AB54 4SH, United Kingdom
    • Highlights: A historical site offering a glimpse into the past.
  • Huntly Falconry
    • Distance: 14.3 km
    • Location: Huntly, United Kingdom
    • Highlights: A place for bird enthusiasts and those interested in falconry.

Frequently Asked Questions

What restaurants are near The GlenDronach Distillery?

  • The Bank Cafe & Restaurant: It has a rating of 4.2 stars on Google Maps. Their address is 2 The Square, Huntly AB54 8AE, United Kingdom. For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +441466543103. 
  • Cafe India: It has a rating of 4.4 stars on Google Maps. Their address is 109 Gordon St, Huntly AB54 8ES, United Kingdom.
    For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +441466792667. 
  • Moonlight Tandoori: It has a rating of 4.5 stars on Google Maps. Their address is 34 Balmellie St, Turriff AB53 4DU, United Kingdom.
    For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +441888562636.

What hotels are near The GlenDronach Distillery?

  • Deveron Lodge B&B Guest House: It has a rating of 4.8 stars on Google Maps. Their address is Bridgend Terrace, Turriff AB53 4ES, United Kingdom.
    For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +441888563613. 
  • Fife Arms Hotel: It has a rating of 4.6 stars on Google Maps. Their address is The Square, Turriff AB53 4AE, United Kingdom.
    For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +441888563124. 
  • Commercial Hotel: It has a rating of 4.6 stars on Google Maps. Their address is 17 Commerce St, Insch AB52 6HX, United Kingdom.
    For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +441464820209.