Scotland and Scotch whisky: Speyside  whisky through the producing distilleries: history, making, maps and tasting notes


The Glenlivet

Glenlivet Distillery
Banffshire AB37 9DB
+44 1542 783 220

Owner: Pernod-Ricard

Creation year: 1824

The family of George Smith was producing whisky in the valley of the Livet for ages. Their name was "Gow" till they preferred changing in it "Smith" after a lost battle against England. When the Excise Act  which made it possible to produce legal whisky was promulgated in1823, George Smith was the first one who applied for such a licence. He got his licence in 1824 and began distilling legally in his farm. The Duke of Gordon, landlord and father of the Excise Act was very pleased to see the results of this first legal distillery. But the moonshine distillers were not so happy. Some of them even threaten him with death, and the Duke of Gordon lent him 2 shotguns, which still can be seen in the visitor centre of the distillery.
His son, James Gordon Smith founded a distillery named Delnabo near Tomintoul in 1849. He was not really successful, and George took over his son's distillery, and renamed it Cairngorn.
In 1858, George and James joined together to build a bigger distillery near Minmore, where the present distillery is settled. Both of the distilleries owned by the family were closed and demolished. The new distillery was nearby the railway, which facilitates lots of things for a distillery. The commercial success was also due to the exclusive distributor, Andrew Usher & Co who is by the way the inventor of the blended whisky with the unchanging consistency which made the success of blends.
In the 1880's, The Glenlivet was so famous that some other unscrupulous distillers began to use its name on their own bottlings.John Gordon Smith went to court and won partially his case. He was the only one who was authorized to use the name of Glenlivet without any other added word. His distillery became then "The Glenlivet", but others had the right to add the name Glenlivet to their own name. The trademark was registered in 1870.
The current owner of the distillery would like to go further, and oblige his competitors to abandon the name of Glenlivet in the name of their distillery. To make an example, he renamed one of the distilleries belonging to his group from Braes of Glenlivet in Braeval.
Glenlivet merged with Glen Grant in 1853. In 1958 a fire destroyed the original buildings.
In the early 70's, Glenlivet and Glen Grant acquired the Longmorn distillery to become "The Glenlivet Distillers" taken over in 1977 by the Seagram group.
The distilleries belonging to the "Chivas and Glenlivet Group", property of Seagram, were bought by the Pernod-Ricard group on 19 december 2001.
The only period where The Glenlivet had to close was the second world war, because of a lack of barley.
Besides the marketing as single malt, the whisky is used form premium blends like Chivas Regal and Royal Salute



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