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Issue 119 - A survivor

Whisky Magazine Issue 119
April 2014

 

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A survivor

Our man visits one of ‘Scotland's oldest distilleries'

For such a remarkably venerable distillery Glen Garioch seems to have passed largely unnoticed for much of its long life. Perhaps that is because for much of that time it served the blending industry, quietly and pretty much anonymously. Or maybe it's because of its location: were Glen Garioch on Islay, or in the heart of Speyside it would I suspect be better known, visited and lauded accordingly.

As it is, its sits sleepily in the heart of the little Aberdeenshire town of Oldmeldrum where much of the world happily passes it by, ignorant even of its very existence, though the town itself is rudely bisected by the busy A947 Aberdeen to Banff road. But traffic hurries relentlessly on through, rushing here and there, indifferent or ignorant of the riches only yards away. Surrounded by rolling, fertile farmland this, one feels, ought to be a prime whisky producing region but though there were distilleries in the valley of the Garioch in the past none of the others prospered, leaving Glen Garioch in splendid solitude.

In his inimitable style Alfred Barnard described the locale thus: “a fertile, highly cultivated and well sheltered valley, bounded on all sides by a range of hills, which command extensive views of the Foremartine and Buchan districts, and the lofty Bennochie.” This he termed the “Granary of Aberdeenshire” considering the town itself “both interesting and historical” though he thought the streets, “although they contain a number of good houses...

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