HE is credited with sparking the global demand for single malts and saw his flagship whisky rise to become the world’s biggest with more than one million cases sold every year. 

After a lifetime in the industry, Sandy Grant Gordon, the patriarch of William Grant & Sons Distillers and Scotland’s richest family, has died peacefully at home at the age of 89. 

He had been in hospital following a fall a week ago and he passed away with his daughters Maggie and Sally with him when he died. 

Mr Grant Gordon was the great-grandson of the Glenfiddich founder William Grant, who built the distillery in 1887 along with his children and it has remained in the family ever since.  

He is credited with establishing the single malt whisky category and, in 1963, he actively marketed Glenfiddich outside of Scotland, which had never been done before. 

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Six years later, the Glenfiddich distillery in Dufftown, Banffshire, opened the first ever visitor centre which helped to revolutionise whisky tourism. 

Now more than half of Scotland’s distilleries have a visitor centre. 


Mr Gordon established the Glenfiddich distillery

The original Grants consisted of seven sons and two daughters and they managed to build the Glenfiddich distillery through a harsh winter in time for the first spirit to run from the stills on Christmas Day.  

Glenfiddich and William Grant malt then expanded massively, adding another single malt distillery next door, called the Balvenie.  

Both Glenfiddich and the Balvenie are among the top 10 best-selling single malts in the world

In 1957, the company’s reins were passed to William Grant’s great-grandson, Charles Gordon, who ushered in some new changes that brought the distillery back to more traditional processing, such as having a cooperage and coppersmiths on site and introducing triangular shaped “tround” bottles.  

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His innovation was followed by Sandy Grant Gordon, who championed single malts, and made Glenfiddich one of the first brands to do so. 

Mr Grant Gordon was also major supporter of piping although he was not a piper himself.  

He was the personal sponsor of countless piping competitions and causes for more than 50 years, among them the Glenfiddich Championships, the Silver Chanter, the Captain John A MacLellan Memorial Medal, and the Piping Live! Glasgow International Festival of Piping. 

He had a personal devotion to Scottish culture and piping in particular. 

While many piping events were aligned with his various brands, he often contributed silently in the background, insisting on little or no recognition. 

In the early-to-mid 1990s, he and his company were vital to the success of the fundraising for the National Piping Centre in Glasgow. 

He discreetly contributed a sizeable amount towards the final stages in the completion of the National Piping Centre, in return asking only for a room to be named for his “Uncle Frank”, Francis Collinson. 

His foresight and generosity were recognised in 2014 when he was awarded the College of Piping Award for services to piping. 

Mr Grant Gordon’s wife, Linda, died last October, aged 85.