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Issue 122 - Glen Grant and the Italian Influence

Whisky Magazine Issue 122
September 2014


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Glen Grant and the Italian Influence

Gavin interviews Dennis Malcolm, born on site in 1946 and still very much involved

Back in 1961 Douglas Mackessack, descendant of the Grant brothers who established Glen Grant distillery in 1840, met Italian businessman Armando Giovinetti who was visiting Speyside. So impressed was Giovinetti by Glen Grant that on his return home he began to import the single malt, leading to a firm friendship between the Italian and Mackessack and a long-standing love affair between the Rothes distillery and Italian whisky drinkers. Italy soon becoming the leading export market for the brand.

This served Glen Grant well for many years, and indeed in 2006 Gruppo Campari of Italy purchased Glen Grant from then owners Chivas Brothers for €115 million. Glen Grant was inextricably linked with Europe in export terms, so what befell its fortunes when the Eurozone crisis hit and whisky sales began to plummet in the worst affected nations?

While other distilleries across Scotland are working at full capacity or actively increasing capacity is there tumbleweed blowing across the courtyard at Glen Grant?

Actually, far from it.

Glen Grant is headed by the highly respected and apparently ageless figure of Dennis Malcolm, who was born on the site in 1946, when his father was employed as a stillman and where his grandfather had also served as a mashman and stillman before him. Malcolm Jr began working there as an apprentice cooper at the age of 15. Even by Scotch whisky standards, that counts as fairly remarkable!

Subsequently employed at The Glenlivet, Strathisla, Longmorn and...

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