The Glenlivet Distillery
Glenlivet was established in 1824 by George Smith but its roots are in illicit whisky distillation. More than 200 sma’ stills (small stills) operated in this isolated area of Speyside and George Smith took a big risk in becoming the first legal distiller in the Parish. As a result, he had to carry handguns for his own protection which are on display in the distillery. You can still walk some of the old smugglers’ paths nearby which are well signposted from the distillery.
A newspaper description of Glenlivet Distillery in 1862 attests to how Glenlivet was “known all over the whole world” and that when production was moved to its new location, every precaution was taken to keep the “uniform flavour and quality of the whisky”.
Glenlivet is normally open all year round for distillery tours and tastings however, in the current Covid-19 climate it is even more necessary check their website for the latest opening times and tour availability. It’s always recommended you book in advance.
Before the Covid-19 Pandemic Glenlivet offered a number of experiences including The Classic Tour (£15) involving a tour around the production side of the distillery, visit to a warehouse and tasting of 3 core range whiskies.
A number of other more specialised experiences were on offer including The Elements Tour (£30) which is held outside when possible. The experience involves interaction with barley, water, oak and copper followed by a tasting of new make and cask strength whiskies. Duration 1.5 hours.
During Covid-19 times whisky tastings include The Glenlivet Collection Tasting. A whisky tasting of the core range 12, 15 and 18 year old expressions. Duration 30 minutes.
There are signposted walks from Glenlivet. The Robbie Macpherson Smugglers Trail is named after an infamous illicit whisky distiller. It takes you up past Josie’s Well, the water source of Glenlivet. Then further along you reach the site of the original Glenlivet Distillery, marked by a small cairn. As you look around the surrounding hills, you can see why this area was home to many illicit stills.
Although Glenlivet Distillery is situated in a quite an isolated place, it’s still near many other Speyside Distilleries including Cragganmore and Ballindalloch.