Glen Ord is a large single malt distillery in the north Highlands. It is one of three distilleries that Diageo uses to form their popular Singleton brand of Scotch whisky, alongside the Speysiders of Dufftown and Glendullan. Each is aimed at different markets with the Singleton of Glen Ord largely available in Asia. Aside from the Singleton - Diageo's biggest selling single malt brand - Glen Ord is used extensively in blended whiskies such as Johnnie Walker.
Glen Ord is known for its malty, biscuity and fruity quality. Notes of honey, cereal, green apple and orange peel mingle with hints of earthiness and smoke. This Highland single malt is commonly matured in two cask types - American whiskey and European oak.
The core range is the Singleton of Glen Ord at 12, 15 and 18 years old. They are complemented by a travel retail exclusive Singleton Reserve Collection of four no age statements - the Artisan, Liberté, Signature and Trinité. Limited edition bottlings occasionally appear with recent examples being an 18-year-old in the Diageo Special Releases and a 43-year-old in The Forgotten Drops, both released in 2019.
Glen Ord is a big distillery with an annual capacity of 11 million litres. This makes it Diageo's second largest (behind Roseisle in Speyside) and sixth overall in Scotland. It is one of only two distilleries that malt 100% of its own barley for production. Springbank in Campbeltown is the other. There are two 12.5 tonne mash tuns, which feed 22 wooden washbacks. The fermentation time is 75 hours. Seven pairs of stills are split across two still houses.
Water for production is taken from two nearby sources - Loch Nam Bonnach and Loch Nan Eun. The distillery is also home to Glen Ord Maltings, which was built in 1968. This huge facility produces malted barley for a number of Diageo's distilleries across Scotland. These include Clynelish, Talisker and Teaninich, plus Glen Ord itself. Each has its own malting specification.
Glen Ord was founded in 1838 by Thomas Mackenzie and is located on the outskirts of Muir of Ord. The town is located to the north west of Inverness at the western edge of the Black Isle. It was originally known as Glen Oran, then Ord, before later becoming Glen Ord in 1923.
The distillery was sold to Alexander MacLennan and Thomas McGregor in 1855. When MacLennan died in 1870, it was taken over by his widow. She later married Alexander Mackenzie, who assumed full ownership. Upon his death in 1896, the distillery was sold to James Watson & Co. They remained owners for over 25 years before selling to John Dewar & Sons in 1923.
The current owners are Diageo. They have expanded Glen Ord to its current size with much of the expansion happening since 2011. This has seen the distillery grow from a three million litre capacity and has coincided with the growth of the Singleton brand and Glen Ord's increased use in Diageo's wide portfolio of blended whiskies.