The Glenlivet whiskey brand logo.

The Glenlivet Distillery

  • Scotland
  • International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) Silver, Lifetime Achievement Award for Master Distiller Alan Winchester
Phone Number
  • +441340821720
  • Glenlivet, Ballindalloch AB37 9DB, United Kingdom

The Glenlivet distillery stone facade with logo and bench.

History of The Glenlivet Distillery

The Glenlivet Distillery, a renowned name in the world of single malt Scotch whisky, boasts a rich and intricate history. Let’s explore its journey from inception to its present-day status.

Founding and Early Years

The distillery was founded by George Smith, a farmer at Upper Drumin, who became one of the first to legally distil whisky in the Glenlivet Valley. This was following the Excise Act of 1823, which made it easier for small distillers to operate legally. Smith’s whisky quickly gained popularity, including among notable figures like King George IV. The demand for his unique Speyside style of single malt whisky led Smith to establish The Glenlivet Distillery in 1824.

Challenges and Expansion

George Smith’s venture faced opposition from illicit distillers in the region. However, with support from the Duke of Gordon, Smith persevered, leading to The Glenlivet becoming a distinguished name in whisky. After George Smith’s passing in 1871, his son John Gordon Smith inherited the distillery and fought legal battles to protect the ‘Glenlivet’ name. The company underwent several expansions and mergers, notably joining with the Glen Grant Distillery in 1953, forming The Glenlivet and Glen Grant Distillers, Ltd.

Modern Times and Ownership Changes

In the 20th century, The Glenlivet faced challenges like the Great Depression and World War II but managed to sustain its operations. Post-war, the distillery played a significant role in Britain’s economic recovery through whisky exports. Ownership changes occurred over the years, with Seagram acquiring Glenlivet Distillers in 1977, followed by Pernod Ricard’s acquisition in 2000.

Present Day and Global Presence

Today, The Glenlivet is a major player in the global whisky market, being the best-selling malt whisky in the United States and holding a significant market share in the UK. Its range includes various aged expressions and limited releases, catering to diverse tastes and preferences. The distillery is also a prominent feature on Scotland’s Malt Whisky Trail, attracting numerous visitors.

Innovations and Future

The Glenlivet has embraced innovation, as seen in 2010 when it opened a new extension, significantly increasing its capacity. The distillery has also been part of unique projects like sending barley seeds to the International Space Station in 2021, showcasing its commitment to experimentation and future growth.

200 Years Being the Original Speyside Single Malt

In 2024, The Glenlivet Distillery celebrates its 200th anniversary, marking two centuries of significant contribution to the world of Scotch whisky. This milestone reflects its enduring legacy and continuous innovation in whisky production.

The distillery’s journey from a small establishment in the Glenlivet Valley to becoming a globally recognized brand exemplifies its commitment to excellence and tradition in whisky making.

This bicentennial year is not just a celebration of The Glenlivet’s past achievements but also a testament to its ongoing influence and potential for future innovations in the whisky industry. 

Awards Won by The Glenlivet Distillery

  1. IWSC Silver for White Oak Reserve:
    • Award: International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) Silver
    • Expression: White Oak Reserve
    • Features: Uses First Fill American White Oak casks, ex-sherry, and Traditional Oak
    • Tasting Notes: A velvety finish with a sweet caramel nose
  2. Lifetime Achievement Award for Master Distiller Alan Winchester:
    • Award: Lifetime Achievement Award at the International Spirits Challenge (ISC) 2018
    • Recipient: Alan Winchester, Master Distiller at The Glenlivet
    • Contributions: Creator of The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve; instrumental in the release of The Glenlivet’s first series of 50 Year Old whiskies (The Winchester Collection)
    • Career Span: Over 40 years in the whisky industry
  3. Best Visitor Attraction 2013:
    • Award: Best Visitor Attraction at the Scottish Thistle Awards 2013
    • Organizer: VisitScotland
    • Highlights: Recognized The Glenlivet Distillery Visitor Centre for its contribution to Scottish tourism
    • Features: Enhanced tourist experiences, attracting over 40,000 tourists annually, and offering a detailed exhibition on the history of The Glenlivet

The Glenlivet Distillery Tour Information and Experience

As of 2024, The Glenlivet Distillery offers a variety of tours and experiences for visitors interested in exploring the world of single malt Scotch whisky. Here’s a summary of what you can expect.

The Glenlivet Distillery Tour Experience

Standard Distillery Tour

The Glenlivet offers a complimentary tour that provides a glimpse into the world of whisky making. This tour includes a guided walk through the distillery, showcasing the whisky-making process, followed by a visit to the bonded warehouse. The experience concludes with a tasting session where guests can sample one of The Glenlivet’s classic malts.

Whisky Tasting at The Glenlivet

A highlight of the visit is the whisky tasting session, where visitors have the opportunity to sample a range of The Glenlivet expressions. This experience includes tasting of various aged whiskies, including the 12, 15, 18, and 21-year-old malts, along with special editions like The Glenlivet Nadurra and XXV. The guided tasting offers insights into the unique characteristics of each whisky.

Legacy Tasting Tour

For those seeking an exclusive experience, The Glenlivet’s Legacy tasting tour offers a deeper dive into the world of single malts. This tour includes a tutored tasting of several matured whiskies from The Glenlivet’s collection and provides guests with a special souvenir gift. The tour encompasses a visit to the distillery’s exhibition area, gift shop, and coffee shop.

Spirit of the Malt Tour

This detailed tour extends over 2 to 3 hours, encompassing a visit to Josie’s Well, a comprehensive distillery tour, and a tasting of seven different expressions of The Glenlivet. It also includes an exclusive visit to the traditional dunnage warehouse for a sample directly from the aged casks. Advanced booking is required for this tour.

Facilities and Services

The Glenlivet boasts a modern visitor centre equipped with a café and a shop, offering a comfortable space for relaxation and shopping. The centre’s exhibits tell the story of the distillery’s heritage and contribution to the whisky world. For those with mobility issues, there is accessible viewing in the production areas and audio guides are available in multiple languages.

Practical Information

Tours are available throughout the year, with specific timings and offerings varying by season. Booking in advance is recommended, especially for specialized tours. The distillery is located in Ballindalloch, Banffshire, and can be accessed by road, with the nearest rail stations being Aviemore and Keith.

Flask & Barrel Review of The Glenlivet Distillery

The Glenlivet Distillery experience was quite remarkable, deserving a solid 4.7 out of 5 in my book. Here’s my take:

First off, the setting is just splendid. Nestled in the scenic Speyside region, the drive to The Glenlivet is as enjoyable as the tour itself. The mix of old and modern buildings at the distillery adds a unique charm, blending tradition with contemporary spirit.

The standard tour, which is surprisingly free, offers a fantastic overview of their whisky-making process. It’s a 45-minute journey through the heart of the distillery, ending with a tasting of their exquisite malts. As someone who’s visited many distilleries, I appreciated the balance between informative content and engaging storytelling.

But the real gem for me was their ‘Spirit of the Malt’ tour. Lasting between 2 to 3 hours, it dives deep into the nuances of whisky making. Tasting straight from the cask was a highlight, providing a rare glimpse into the ageing process. Sampling seven different expressions of The Glenlivet, my palate was delighted by the diverse range of flavours, each unique.

The Legacy tasting tour was another highlight. It’s a more exclusive affair, offering matured single malts that are a treat for any whisky aficionado. The souvenir gift was a thoughtful touch, adding to the overall experience.

What To Do Nearby The Glenlivet Distillery

Cragganmore Distillery (5.1 miles): Experience another renowned whisky distillery known for its unique Speyside malt.

Glenfarclas Distillery (5.9 miles): A family-owned distillery offering rich history and distinctive single malt Scotch whiskies.

Caorunn Gin Tour (7.3 miles): Explore the world of gin at the Balmenach Distillery and discover the crafting process of Caorunn Gin.

Cardhu Distillery (8.8 miles): Visit this picturesque distillery known for its smooth, sweet, and mellow single malt.

The Old Packhorse Bridge (0.8 miles): A historical landmark offering scenic views and a glimpse into the area’s past.

The GlenAllachie Distillery (8.8 miles): Another opportunity to explore the world of Scotch whisky in the heart of Speyside.

Ballindalloch Castle and Gardens (4.9 miles): Visit this stunning 16th-century castle set in beautiful gardens and grounds.

Aberlour Distillery Brand Home (9.5 miles): Experience the rich heritage of Aberlour single malt whisky with a guided tour.

Drumin Castle (1.1 miles): Discover the history of this intriguing castle located in the Glenlivet Estate.

The Whisky Castle (6.5 miles): A unique shop in Tomintoul offering a wide range of whiskies and expert advice.

Glenlivet Mountain Bike Trails (4.4 miles): For outdoor enthusiasts, these trails offer a thrilling adventure through stunning landscapes.

Knockando Woolmill (8.5 miles): A historic wool mill providing insight into traditional Scottish craftsmanship.

Trek Scotland (6.4 miles): Embark on guided walks and treks in the beautiful Scottish Highlands.

Wild Alba Tours (2.5 miles): Experience wildlife and nature tours in the heart of Speyside.

The Linn Falls (9.9 miles): A peaceful spot for a scenic walk featuring beautiful waterfalls.

The Spey Larder (9.8 miles): A local shop in Aberlour offering a selection of Scottish delicacies and gifts.

Frequently Asked Questions

What restaurants are near The Glenlivet Distillery?

Clockhouse Restaurant: It has a rating of 4.4 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +44 1807 580378. Their address is The Square, Tomintoul, Ballindalloch AB37 9ET, United Kingdom.

The Glenavon: This establishment has a rating of 4.4 stars on Google Maps. For inquiries, you can contact them at +44 1807 580218. The address is The Square, Tomintoul, Ballindalloch AB37 9ET, United Kingdom.

Seven Stills French Restaurant and Malt Whisky Bar/Lounge: It boasts a rating of 4.8 stars on Google Maps. You can contact them at +44 1340 820880 for reservations. Their location is 30 Fife St, Dufftown, Keith AB55 4AL, United Kingdom.

What hotels are near The Glenlivet Distillery?

Premier Inn Aviemore Hotel: It has a rating of 4.2 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +44 871 527 8000. Their address is Grampian Rd, Aviemore PH22 1PX, United Kingdom.

Balmoral Arms: This hotel has a rating of 4.1 stars on Google Maps. You can contact them for reservations at +44 1339 755413. The address is 13-15 Victoria Rd, Ballater AB35 5RA, United Kingdom.

Nethybridge Hotel: It boasts a rating of 4.1 stars on Google Maps. For booking inquiries, their contact number is +44 1479 821203. The hotel is located at Main St, Nethy Bridge PH25 3DP, United Kingdom.