Whisky Magazine Issue 31
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Gavin D. Smith tells the story of Highland distillery Glendronach, which has a happy ending after all
In May 2001, Paul Porter-Smith, managing director of Allied Distillers Ltd, re-opened Glendronach Distillery by ceremonially driving home the bung in the first cask of new spirit to be distilled on the premises after six years of silence.
The re-commissioning of the Highland distillery at Forgue, near Huntly, is good news for whisky buffs and for the local community, but it also signals a welcome sea change in the way Allied perceives and markets its range of single malts.
Allied currently owns 10 malt distilleries, and Islay's Laphroaig is its biggest-selling single malt by far. It has received the lion's share of the company's malt whisky promotional expenditure and effort. There is a feeling within Allied, however, that not enough attention has been paid to some of its other single malts. According to director of brand heritage, Bill Bergius:
“We've concentrated distilling efforts to meet the huge demands of our brands, and it takes many years to lay down and bring to market single malts.”
Mothballed in 1996 due to a surplus of maturing stocks, the main impetus behind the resurrection of Glendronach is an increased demand for malt to contribute to Allied's leading blends, such as Teacher's and Ballantine's. As Bergius notes,
“Our Ballantine's blend is doing very well in Europe and the Far East, so we do need more malt whisky. We value Glendronach in our blends, as do some of our competitors, but we also value it as a single malt.
“We've looked after our big ...