In 1820 – two decades before he and his brother founded the Distillery – James Grant helped lead the “Raid on Elgin”, the last clan revolt in Scottish history
Brothers John and James Grant founded the Glen Grant distillery in Rothes, Aberlour, Speyside, in 1840
The story of Glen Grant is as rich as the vapours that rise in the neck of their slender pot stills on their journey to become one of the finest single malts in Speyside, Scotland.
Brothers John and James Grant founded the Glen Grant distillery in Rothes in 1840. They would go on to contribute to the industrial advancement of Scotland with the construction of the northern railway.
Earlier, in 1820, James Grant helped lead the “Raid on Elgin”, the last clan revolt in Scottish history. Aficionados of the country’s past are able to admire his tartan waistcoat proudly displayed at the distillery, a reminder of Glen Grant’s strong Highland pedigree.
Glen Grant Distillery was established on a most ideal location.
The sea and port of Lossiemouth were nearby. To the south laid the River Spey. Barley-growing plains surrounded the distillery. All the ingredients for producing – and then sending forth malt whisky – were in place.
Glen Grant continues to only use Scottish barley to produce its whisky. Native to the country, the Speyside distillery is of the belief that Scottish barley is particularly flavoursome.
Ever the pioneering spirit, James Grant also founded the Morayshire Railway Company, which ran trains from the port of Lossiemouth to Elgin. The railway he created helped increase whisky production as it was easier to establish supply lines, thereby leading to more construction of other distilleries in the area.
To honour James Grant’s contribution, in 1851, one of the locomotives was named Glen Grant.
Another James Grant – nephew of John Grant, brother of the original James Grant – inherited the distillery in 1872. This second James Grant later became known as “The Major”.
The Major’s contributions included introducing water cooling purifiers which revolutionized malt whisky production. Another lasting addition was the introduction of tall, slender, elongated pot stills. These had the result of capturing only the finest vapours resulting in the fresh malty flavour for which Glen Grant is particularly renowned. And which continues to define the single malt to this day.
Major Grant, the last Glen Grant, passed on in 1931. Douglas MacKessack, his grandson, was to become his successor. In 2006, the Italian Campari Group acquired Glen Grant.
Glen Grant is a multi-award winning distillery in some of the industry’s most respected competitions. Such is the regularity in which the Speyside single malt scoop up top prizes, we can properly describe Glen Grant as a serial winner. The single malts represent much envied benchmarks. Glen Grant 10 Years Old (40% ABV) sets the stage for what’s to come. Make no mistake but this youngster is the foundation stone. Scented, elegant orchard fruit – including pears and apples – that is delicately glycerol and gently smooth. The only Scotch whisky to be voted Best 10 years and under a record seven times! The orchard fruit are still there in Glen Grant 12 Years Old (43% ABV) but so too toffee, honey and spice. Gold Medal International Wine & Spirit Competition 2016, Double Gold San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2017, and Gold Medal Beverage Testing Institute 2019. Glen Grant 15 Years Old (50% ABV) shows pears in a compote, cinnamon, vanilla, stone fruit and citrus marmalade. Gold Medal Beverage Testing Institute 2018. Double Gold San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2019, and Gold Medal New York International Spirits Competition 2020. Glen Grant 18 Years Old (43% ABV) was launched in June 2016. Vanilla, caramel, oak, spiced and nutty. Layered and long. Named – for four consecutive years in 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019 – as “Scotch Whisky of the Year”, “Single Malt of the Year” and “Best Single Malt Scotch Aged 16-21 years” in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible.
In 2015 Dennis Malcolm was bestowed the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II for his service to the community of Rothes
In 2021, Master Distiller Dennis Malcolm marked his 60th year – or Diamond Anniversary – working at Glen Grant which began on 3 April 1961
The third-generation of his family to work at Glen Grant, Dennis Malcolm started his career at the Speyside distillery on 3 April 1961 as an apprentice cooper.
Malcolm was actually born on the grounds of Glen Grant. Even today, he walks to work from his house at the top of a hill adjoining the distillery. It’s fair to say Dennis Malcolm has Glen Grant Single Malt coursing through his veins.
The Scotsman is one of the longest serving distillers, having spent his entire 61 years in the Speyside region managing Glen Grant and other distilleries.
“I am just a custodian on the journey, carrying on the tradition, keeping the ship steady for the future,” a modest Dennis Malcolm allowed when we met on 21 April 2022.
When Malcolm first mentioned “61” as the time he started at Glen Grant, I wasn’t too sure if that was what I heard, thinking he meant he was 61 years old. He might be some 20 years older but he certainly doesn’t show it whether in appearance, alertness, not to mention Malcolm stands ramrod straight and is as fleet and fit as a fiddle.
A straight talker who wears his feelings on his sleeves, Dennis Malcolm is also a fountain of old-fashioned, well-tested wisdom.
“There are four things in whisky: barley, water, yeast and the fourth being the most important, people.”
In 2015 Dennis Malcolm was bestowed the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II for his service to the community of Rothes.
James Grant, aka “The Major”
THE VICTORIAN GARDEN
In 1886, James Grant created the Glen Grant’s Victorian Garden to showcase the eclectic plants and exotic fruits he collected on his journeys around the world. The 9-hectare wonderland of orchards, meadows, and gorges includes a “dram pavilion” built by The Major himself. Nearby is a spirit safe, complete with lock. Lucky guests, when they arrive, receive a liquid reward.
The sprits safe
James Grant created the Glen Grant’s Victorian Garden
VISIT GLEN GRANT
Glen Grant Distillery is open to the public and located in the village of Rothes, Aberlour, Scotland, AB38 7BS. There is a visitor’s centre complete with café. Check out their website at www.glengrant.com.
Hours of Operation
November to March (inclusive)
Monday to Saturday: 9.30 am to 3.30 pm
April to October (inclusive)
Monday to Saturday: 9.30 am to 4 pm
Sunday: 11 am to 4 pm