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Issue 90 - Not backing down

Whisky Magazine Issue 90
September 2010


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Not backing down

Gavin D. Smith visits the Grant family's new kid on the block.

Mention the name ‘William Grant & Sons' and most people think of Glenfiddich. Beyond that, some may think of Balvenie.

Inevitably the family-owned distiller's two highprofile single malt brands and Speyside distilleries take centre stage, but much of the organisation's most important action takes place far from the company's Dufftown roots The Ayrshire coastal town of Girvan is home to Grant's grain distillery and bonding and blending facilities, not to mention Ailsa Bay malt distillery, and the rather Roald Dahl-esque set up that is the suitably quirky Hendrick's gin distillery, known within the company as ‘The Gin Palace!' The Girvan site covers 380 acres, employs 130 staff, and in addition to its three distilleries, is home to more than 40 warehouses – holding some 1.5 million casks - office functions, a laboratory, blending operation and a dedicated cooperage. This is one of the Scotch whisky industry's largest integrated operations, and also one of its best-kept secrets. This is principally due to the fact that the company has never been one to shout about many of its activities, although the showpiece Glenfiddich distillery attracts some 70,000 visitors per year.

The creation of Girvan grain distillery, back in the early 1960s, was the brainchild of then Managing Director and now Life President of William Grant & Sons, Charles Gordon. For an emphatically independent organisation, the one chink in its corporate armour was a reliance on external supplies of grain ...

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