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Issue 71 - The Italian job

Whisky Magazine Issue 71
April 2008


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The Italian job

Gavin D Smith heads to Speyside to discover what's going on at Glen Grant

On 1st May Glen Grant distillery will host the Opening Dinner of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival in its newly-created £500,000 visitor centre. Described by distillery manager Dennis Malcolm as “a very impressive, state-of-the-art affair,” and developed in the old distillery coachman's house, this facility epitomises the way in which Glen Grant has long combined tradition with innovation.

The world's third-largest malt whisky brand began life when Glen Grant distillery was established in 1840 by brothers John and James Grant, and it was the first distillery to be built in what subsequently developed into the distilling centre of Rothes.

“The founder James Grant was involved in developing the railway network in the 1850s,” notes Dennis Malcolm, “and he installed a water turbine to generate electricity for the Grant mansion and distillery.

I believe this was the first electricity north of Glasgow.” In 1872 the distillery was inherited by James Grant's son, also James, and frequently referred to simply as ‘The Major.' He was an archetypal, Victorian Highland laird and shrewd businessman who oversaw the continuing growth and prosperity of Glen Grant whisky.

Among The Major's achievements was the development of Glen Grant's ground-breaking woodland garden, which remains popular with visitors on the Malt Whisky Trail today.

It was planted with new and exotic species not usually to be found in the north of Scotland, and equipped with a ‘dram safe' in the ...

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