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Issue 37 - A single malt for the purists (Balvenie)

Whisky Magazine Issue 37
February 2004


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A single malt for the purists (Balvenie)

Once just William Grant's ‘other' Dufftown distillery, Balvenie is starting to build a big reputation for itself. Ian Buxton went to pay homage

Dufftown is a kind of Valhalla for distilleries. In this land of castles and stills, long-silent ghosts, such as Convalmore and Pittyvaich, haunt its streets, while the force is still strong at Dufftown, Mortlach and Kininvie.

But best known amongst this hall of heroes are the two distilleries built by Major William Grant and his family – Glenfiddich and Balvenie.

Remarkably, they remain today in robust good health, in the same family ownership. Glenfiddich is certainly the more famous.

A pioneer in the single malt category, and one of the first in Scotland to open to the public, its familiar triangular green bottle is seen – well, it might be easier to list where it can't be found.

It's universally present in the duty free shops of airports the world over and a guaranteed and reliable Christmas gift. Many lovers of fine malt whisky got their first taste of the cratur with a dram of Glenfiddich and the Scotch whisky industry owes the Grant family a vote of thanks for its persistence in promoting single malt when few other distillers would give it the time of day.

However, we're concerned with its near neighbour Balvenie.

The lesser-known of the two, it lived in Glenfiddich's shadow for many years but is now emerging to greater recognition and well-deserved acclaim.

A certain dogged self-belief runs in the owning family. Glenfiddich was less than five years old when, in March 1892, William Grant acquired the adjacent 12 acres of land at Mains of Balvenie, together w...

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