There is perhaps no whisky distillery more famous than Glenfiddich. Established by William Grant in 1876, with production commencing the following year, Glenfiddich is attributed as the first distillery to release a “single malt” (in 1963) and the first to market it outside Scotland. Indeed, their pioneering work created the category of “single malts.” The distillery is still owned by the Grant family—different to the Grant family of Glenfarclas—who also own The Balvenie, Kininvie and Ailsa Bay distilleries.
Located in Dufftown, in the heart of Banffshire, Glenfiddich (meaning ‘Valley of the Deer’ in Gaelic) is neighbours to Balvenie, Dufftown, Glendullan and Mortlach, all of whom huddled in this area because of the infrastructure and quality of the local water at Robbie Dhu. The operation itself is monumental. Although they do not own quite as many stills as other large-scale distilleries, their production capacity is nonetheless significant, sitting at more than 10,000,000 litres per year. Everything takes place onsite: a cooperage, where casks are refurbished and repurposed, as well as a complex of warehouses that populate the valley. With the production capacity, marketing and established global reputation, it is easy to understand why Glenfiddich is the number 1 single malt whisky.
The Glenfiddich style plays a significant role in its popularity. Showing notes of pear, sultana, apple and hay, the spirit is bright and delicious, taking on the influence of casks without losing its essentially characteristics. Maturation takes places in a number of different casks, with ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry most popular, although ex-Rum plays a significant role in their 21 year old. With their reputation firmly established, Glenfiddich have embarked on many experimental bottlings that utilise their wealth of experience to try out different cask finishings, such as IPA and Champagne casks. The Glenfiddich range is dominated by the 12 year old, with 14, 15, 18 and 21 year old single malts making up the core range. Older releases, such as 30, 40 and 50 year old are highly prized, as well as the increasingly frequent variety of limited edition batches at the affordable and premium ends of the price spectrum. Across their releases, it is easy to understand why Glenfiddich is so well loved.