Glenfiddich is the world's most popular Scotch single malt and one of the largest distilleries in Scotland. It is located in the Speyside town of Dufftown. It has a running battle with neighbour Glenlivet on both counts, with the top positions swapping between them regularly. Glenfiddich translates as 'valley of the deer' from Gaelic and is a true pioneer of the Scotch single malt industry.
This whisky giant has a history of firsts. This innovative approach to whisky making and the marketing of their products has given Glenfiddich much success. Their multi-award winning range of single malt whiskies sell in huge amounts across the world. Each year 18 million bottles of Glenfiddich are sold.
Glenfiddich single malt has a 'classic Speyside' style. This is delicate and floral with a green fruitiness - think of apple and pear especially. This soft and gentle style is highly approachable. Very occasionally, Glenfiddich also produces a peated spirit. This uses Speyside peat that gives a gentle and sweet style of smoke.
Glenfiddich's range is extensive. The core range has age statements at 12, 15, 18, 21, 30, 40 and 50 years old. These are complemented by numerous special limited editions, including some for specific markets or retailers. Recently, they released The Experimental Series to push boundaries. These whiskies feature the use of unorthodox cask types including ex-IPA beer, ex-ice wine and ex-rum.
In late 2020, production began in a brand new extension at Glenfiddich. This extension saw a new distillery built next to the existing one. This instantly raised the annual production capacity from 13 million litres to a whopping 20 million. There are now four mash tuns and each can hold 10 tonnes of barley. Then there are 48 wooden fermentation washbacks, all made of Douglas fir. The regular fermentation time is 68 hours.
There are 46 stills spread across three stillhouses. These include 16 large wash stills for the first distillation and 30 smaller spirit stills for the second distillation. Most of the whisky is matured on a huge site at Glenfiddich, which is owned by William Grant & Sons. This stretches away from Dufftown and along the banks of the River Fiddich. This site also includes Glenfiddich's sister distilleries of Balvenie and Kininvie, multiple warehouses and a cooperage.
Glenfiddich was founded in 1886 by William Grant and remains under the ownership of William Grant & Sons to this day. The distillery was famously built by hand by Grant himself, along with his nine children. Production began on Christmas Day of 1887. Shortly afterwards, Balvenie was built in 1892 on the same estate that was owned by Grant.
Grant's whisky business really began to take off once he started creating his own blends in the early 20th century. The first was Standfast and this became a best seller for the company. Standfast later evolved into the Grant's range of blended Scotch whiskies that we know today.
Glenfiddich's history of innovation came to a head in the late 1950s and 1960s. The iconic green three-cornered bottle appeared on the market in 1957. This was designed to negate moving and breakages in transit. In 1963, Glenfiddich became to first Scotch single malt brand to market itself in the UK. This later spread to the rest of the world. Then in 1969, Glenfiddich became the first distillery in Scotland to open a visitor centre and offer tours. They now welcome close to 100,000 visitors per year.
The 1960s also saw the world's first ever travel retail store opened by Glenfiddich at Shannon airport in Ireland. This was the stop-off point for transatlantic flights between the UK and America. At this time planes did not have the fuel capacity to fly the full distance and had to stop off to refuel. William Grant & Sons saw an opportunity and the rest is history.