Glen Ord: Anything but Ordinary

Glen Ord: Anything but Ordinary

In his latest column, Whisky Auctioneer’s Joe Wilson highlights historic bottlings of Glen Ord that are worthy of collectors’ attention

Auction News with Joe Wilson | 26 Feb 2024 | By Joe Wilson

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Last month in this column we examined Dalmore Distillery as an example of tradition and continuity with respect to its single malt brand. Its famous stag logo, despite numerous evolutions, has been a part of the distillery livery for over one-and-a-half centuries. Our February 2024 sale at Whisky Auctioneer, on the other hand, provides an opportunity to examine a producer whose brand journey could not be more different, but is no less interesting. That distillery is Glen Ord.

 

Despite its hulking, industrial facade (owing mostly to its maltings), the Black Isle-based distillery is a figuratively quieter operation on the world stage than the likes of Dalmore, a brand with enormous visibility from its perch on the pantheon of Scotland’s prestige malts. Indeed, since 2006 it has been one of three that are half-hidden behind Diageo’s The Singleton brand and, except for select limited editions, examples distilled at Glen Ord are only found in Asian markets. With the distillery re-opened to the public as the new brand home for The Singleton in 2022, this is an iteration that is seemingly here to stay, and perhaps a welcome injection of stability for a distillery that has struggled to establish an identity over the years.

 

Despite being founded as Glen Ord in 1838, the name merry-go-round began spinning in 1882 when the distillery registered the Glenoran brand for its malt, later reverting back to its original name under ownership of John Dewar & Sons in 1923. Single malt bottlings then disappeared for several decades as the distillery provided fillings for Distillers Company (DCL) blends, however returned in the 1970s after its license was assigned to Peter Dawson Ltd. The Glasgow blender changed tack again, now marketing the whisky simply as Ord. Highly regarded old single malts, they were available in 12- and 5-year-old age statements. Our February auction features visually distinct examples from the early and later 1970s to explore, including the unusual bubble-effect glass bottle designs from the end of the decade.

The still house at Glen Ord Distillery.

Change followed swiftly again in 1982 however as DCL reassigned the distillery license to John Dewar & Sons. Despite a decade of market presence as Ord, and Dewar’s having used Glen Ord in the past, it was decided that yet another name would be used, Glenordie. In an uncharacteristic instance of continuity, the core range ages statements mercifully remained unchanged and we have two examples of the still excellent 12-year-old for sale this month. These are true rarities given Glenordie was discontinued after just five years as United Distillers (UD) sought to streamline the previously diffuse and, at times, overcomplicated whisky operations of DCL – of which Glen Ord, Ord and Glenordie may reasonably be assumed to have been a prime example.

 

Off the market for another short period, UD revived the Glen Ord brand name in 1993 and it was repackaged into eye-catching square bottles by Diageo in 2004, shortly before being discontinued for a final time. For completists, there are examples in our February sale from these eras too, including a pair of lauded Diageo Special Releases and a recent Prima & Ultima bottling of The Singleton that perfectly illustrates a distillery that is no longer simply being passed around but held aloft in a manner befitting its excellent single malt whisky.

 

Glen Ord Distillery.

This article is sponsored by Whisky Auctioneer and was created in partnership with the team at Whisky Magazine. This sponsorship does not influence Whisky Magazine's coverage of auctions and Whisky Auctioneer do not have input on editorial decisions.

About Whisky Auctioneer

Whisky Auctioneer is one of the global market leaders and trusted authorities on the buying and selling of whisky and spirits at auction. Founded in 2013 and located in Perth, Whisky Auctioneer utilises its expertise and knowledge combined with its auction platform, to increase interest and passion in the whisky and spirits community.

 

Whisky Auctioneer endeavours to make the market more accessible for buyers and sellers of any background and geography. Its monthly global auctions feature some of the most comprehensive selections of old, rare and collectible whiskies and spirits available online.

 

Whisky Auctioneer became the first online auction house to sell a million-pound bottle and outperformed the nearest traditional auction house by 200 per cent in value from spirits sales in 2020, showcasing the move that whisky collectors, investors and drinkers have already made online and firmly establishing their leading position within the modern secondary whisky market.

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