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Issue 115 - Experimental focus

Whisky Magazine Issue 115
October 2013

 

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Experimental focus

We discover a hive of innovation in Speyside

Glen Keith was one of the first new distilleries to be built after the Second World War, along with fellow Speysider Tormore (see WM 113). It was created between 1957 and 1960 on the site of a former corn mill, close to Strathisla distillery in the town of Keith.

Glen Keith was built by Strathisla's owners The Seagram Company of Canada, who operated their Scotch whisky interests through the Chivas Brothers' subsidiary, because demand for the Chivas Regal blend was growing strongly in the USA. The relatively confined site of Strathisla meant that it could not be extended significantly to meet the demand for blending malt, and the solution was to build Glen Keith on the opposite bank of the River Isla.

“The company bought the mill site and built the new distillery and maltings,” says Chivas' Distilleries Manager Alan Winchester. “Glen Keith Technical Centre was established in part of the old mill and is still there.” Despite being one of Chivas Brothers' lower profile distilleries, Glen Keith has always been at the forefront of innovation, starting right at the beginning when it was equipped with three stills to practice triple-distillation – something more usually associated with Lowland distilleries.

According to Alan Winchester, “When Glen Keith was established, a Dufftown man who had worked at Bushmills was recruited, and he introduced triple distillation, as practiced at Bushmills. It carried on until the early 1980s.” The presence of the technical centre ...

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