Glen Garioch distillery

Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire

History: There are several Scottish distilleries that lay claim to being the oldest in the land. To be honest I'm not sure why they are so obsessed with the title; maybe they think people see this as a stamp of quality? Anyway, Glen Garioch claims to be one of the oldest operating distilleries in Scotland and also its most easterly. Glen Garioch (pronounced Geery in the ancient Doric dialect apparently) has been making its mighty malt in the historic market town of Oldmeldrum, near Inverurie, in northeast Scotland since around 1797. This small but beautifully formed granite distillery takes its name from the valley of the Garioch. And as as with many old distilleries, this one has had quite a rollercoaster of a journey over the last couple of hundred years. Having changed owners many times during the 19th and early 20th centuries, Glen Garioch distillery was shut down in 1968. It was then acquired by Stanley P Morrison (of Morrison Bowmore whisky company fame) in 1970. After some extensive renovations, Morrison started to grow the brand. Today, the distillery is under the ownership of Japanese company, Suntory, who acquired Morrison Bowmore in 1994.

The whisky – Glen Garioch is a well-respected single malt. The house style is fruity, malty with a touch of spice. I've been lucky enough to try some of the distillery's older, rare whiskies, which are sublime. A lot of people think that the older the whisky the better it must be. This isn't true – some whiskies just don’t age well beyond about 12 or 18 years. Glen Garioch does, however, and if you ever get the chance to taste those older statements, then jump at it.

Favourite dram: If you are looking for something a little bit different, check out the vintage range on the distillery's website. They all come from single casks with a wide and varied flavour profile.

Why visit? The distillery is well set up for visitors and is open most of the year but if you are planning to go during February it would be wise to call ahead as this is their month for renovations. They offer different tours with the most basic being the Founders Tour for £8, which gets you a great insight into the whisky's history, production and a dram of the Founder’s Reserve single malt. If you are really into your single malt you may want to have a look at the Legends Of The Garioch Experience tour. Lasting half a day, this takes you around the distillery for an in-depth look at production as well as field trips to locations that are part of the spirit's history, and the chance to taste some of their most prized drams ... all for £150 per person.

Interesting fact: Even though it is one of the oldest whiskies, it wasn't until 1972 that Glen Garioch was first released as a single malt. Previously the malt whisky had only been used in blends such as VAT 69, Bell's, Grant's as well as in the liqueur Drambuie.

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