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  • Writer's pictureErnie - Ernst Scheiner

Glen Grant. The Making of Whisky

Updated: May 17

Glen Grant Distillery. Innovation.Tradition

Since the Italian drinks group Davide Campari acquired the Glen Grant distillery in 2006, sales of the fruity single malts from Speyside have been growing worldwide.

First published in the Highland Herald, 2017

Updated May 2024

Dennis Malcolm OBE, longtime Master Distiller, Manager and Brand Ambassador, retired after 63 years in the whisky industry. Greig Stables follows Dennis' steps as Master Distiller and takes over the reigns.

He has been at Glen Grant Distillery for 18 years.

The team of 36 colleagues will be lead by him.

Apologies WIX Software


“That was a bit strange, I was convicting a boy of driving under the influence of alcohol when I myself produce whisky in large quantities,”

Dennis David Alexander Malcolm freely admits to Justice of the Peace (as of 2017) by Morayshire.

At an age when others are happy to retire and make the golf course the centre of their lives, sixty-year-old Dennis took on another big challenge in 2006 to help implement the new owners' current strategies as General Manager of the Glen Grant Distillery. Head Hunters were looking for an experienced whisky expert for the distillery, which was officially licensed around 1840, on behalf of the Gruppo Campari, based in Sesto San Giovanni, Italy. It was operated by the brothers James and John Grant, probably since 1823 (not confirmed), as the first distillery in Rothes. With convincing arguments, the Italians persuaded Dennis Malcolm, who was highly regarded in the whisky industry, to manage the Glen Grant Distillery.

Whisky Legend Dennis Malcolm

The Balmenach distillery, also located in Speyside and part of the Inverhouse Distillers (Thai Beverages plc.) group, lost its manager.

“The perspectives discussed were very appealing to me; I wanted and was able to personally make a significant contribution to the preservation of the distillery.
The plans for the economic development of the Glen Grant brand secured the jobs of many people,”

Dennis Malcolm sums up his motives, "What Campari was planning was very exciting. I wanted to be part of this renewal process." He returned to the place where he had so many memories of his parents, his childhood and youth. A two-day brainstorming session with the editor of the English-language Whisky Magazine Dave Broom, the renowned authors Michael Jackson and Charles MacLean and the Campari representative Chiana Brassin in 2007 shaped the future appearance of the Glen Grant whiskies with the aim of developing them into a globally valued premium brand. This included a market presence with an updated range, a modern label and bottle design and the development of new markets with a convincing advertising slogan: "Nature as it should be."

Dennis was only the eighth manager of the traditional distillery with the famous name since 1890. Under his leadership, production initially grew to an annual volume of 4.6 million liters in 2009, reduced to three million liters in the following years and has settled at 2.5 million liters of pure alcohol since 2011.

Dennis Malcolm’s birthplace and place of work are close to each other.


In December 2015, Dennis Malcolm was honored by the London International Wine and Spirit Competition with the award for his outstanding achievements in the whisky industry. The internationally renowned American whisky magazine Whisky Advocate honored the master distiller and manager of the Glen Grant Distillery for his life's work with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

In June 2016, the English Queen Elizabeth II presented the award on behalf of her daughter Princess Anne. Dennis Malcolm was awarded an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to the whisky world and his social commitment to the Speyside community.

Photo Copyright Glen Grant Distillery

After more than 55 years of responsible work in the whisky business, Malcolm, who is highly regarded in Rothes and in the industry, ended his professional career this month. But not entirely, because the whisky fanatic will continue to contribute his expertise as a master blender at the Glen Grant Distillery, which belongs to the Campari Group. Dennis Malcolm will personally present his beloved Glen Grant Single Malt worldwide as a whisky ambassador.

Today, the Glen Grant Distillery is managed by Greig Stables. Dennis Malcolm had the foresight to recruit the distillery expert from the small town of Keith in Speyside from Chivas Brothers in 2013 to prepare him for the demands of an operations manager at Glen Grant. As a distillery operator, he gained specialist knowledge at the Chivas distilleries Glen Keith, Glenlivet and Longmorn, as well as at Glen Grant in 2009. In his free time, the married father of two sons devotes himself to raising Welsh ponies.

Glen Grant becomes Italian

In Italy, Glen Grant whiskies were and are very popular. Consumers in Rome, Milan and Naples like the fruity young Scotch single malt from Speyside. Campari made the Glen Grant brand, which had led a rather shadowy existence under the regime of Chivas Brothers - owned by the French global spirits player Pernod-Ricard - into the limelight with an attractive Styling of the bottles and labels as well as efficient marketing ideas have made the whisky acceptable again. With new releases that have been well received by critics, Master Blender and Managing Director Malcolm has brought the Grant Single Malts back onto the shelves of specialist shops. The inexpensive single malt The Major's Reserve , which is bottled without an age statement, has many fans, particularly in supermarket chains. However, this has given the Glen Grant Single Malts a rather detrimental image, which makes it difficult to sell the high-priced products in a highly competitive market.

In the international competition of the top Scotch blended whiskies, Glen Grant products achieved a share of 5.1% of the world market in 2015, after the leaders Johnnie Walker (21.5%), Ballantine’s (7%) and Chivas Regal (5.3%), followed by J&B , William Lawson’s , Famous Grouse , William Peel , Dewar's and Label 5 . Among the best-selling Scottish single malts, Glen Grant took eighth place after Aberlour , Laphroaig and ahead of Balvenie and Talisker . The flagship product remained the single malt Glenlivet. In 2016, Grant's sales figures in Europe rose by 9.6%, primarily in the prosperous markets of Germany and Russia.

Updated 2023

Bob Kunze-Concewitz, Chief Executive Officer (since 2007) of Davide Campari-Milano SpA says: "In a challenging 2022, we continued to make solid progress in pursuing our long-term growth strategy, which focuses on sustainable brand building and portfolio enhancement through attractive acquisitions. Compared to the pre-pandemic period, our net sales grew organically by 40%, thanks to strong brand health, pricing and improved commercial capabilities that drove strong consumer demand."

The annual report from January 2023 states:

"The GlenGrant grew double-digit, driven by premiumization, particularly in South Korea and Global Travel Retail."

However, Glen Grant is a relatively small item in the Campari portfolio, as the following chart from the 2022 annual report shows:

Source Campari Results Presentation First quarter ended 31 March 2022

Renovation of production facilities

The previous owners, Chivas Brothers, had somewhat lost focus on the Glen Grant Distillery and repeatedly postponed investments. Now it was decided to completely renovate the distillery. The aim was to optimize the technical production processes and at the same time implement energy-saving measures such as installing heat exchangers.

“Only local craftsmen were involved in the many structural and technical changes,”

Construction manager Malcolm emphasises his close ties to the region. The Glen Grant Distillery has also adapted to the requirements of a constantly growing whisky tourism in Speyside. In 2008, architects and designers used minimalist means to transform the former coach house into a functionally styled, bright and friendly visitor centre. The cost was over 500,000 pounds. The spacious coach parking area is popular with tour companies. Of course, interested tourists can experience the distillery tour in their native language. This increases empathy and has a positive effect on the appreciation of the products.

“I didn’t know that this whisky was so fruity and delicate,”

Robert Schwarz was amazed when he first tasted a "wee dram", a sip of Glen Grant single malt, "that is a pleasant discovery for me. Cheap and good." The distillery counted 17,000 visitors in 2016, around 20,000 before Corona.

Although the market for Scottish whiskeys in Italy fell by 30% in 2006 and 2007 and sales of Glen Grant fell by 37% to three million bottles, the Campari Group invested optimistically in the future. A few years later, sales figures recovered in duty-free shops and in the French, Spanish, Swedish, Swiss and German markets. The positive trend culminated in 2012 in the planning and construction of a high-performance bottling plant behind the mashing house, costing five million pounds. A second plant was added in 2015. The Italian plants can bottle around 12,000 0.7 l Glen Grant whisky per hour.

However, the idea of expanding the distillation plant at the same time was not pursued any further. During this phase, operations manager Dennis Malcolm was extremely busy, because in addition to the day-to-day business, he was responsible for the smooth implementation of the complex construction measures. This was a particularly exciting time for him:

"I was thrilled. The investment in our own bottling line will secure the long-term existence of the Glen Grant Distillery."

The previous owners, Chivas Brothers - Pernod-Ricard - sold the Glen Grant Distillery in 2006 for a price of 115 million euros and also sold the trademark rights to the blends Old Smuggler and Braemar to Davide Campari-Milano SpA (collectively known as Gruppo Campari) for a further 15 million euros. The competition watchdogs of the EU Commission pushed through this deal in order to prevent the threatened monopolization of the Scottish whisky industry by the market leaders Diageo, Bacardi and Suntory.

The blended Scotch Old Smuggler is well known in the USA and Eastern Europe. In Argentina it is the second most sold whisky in terms of sales. The picture shows a rare bottle from the 1970s. The whisky was first marketed in 1835 by James & George Stodart Ltd. from Glasgow, later Dumbarton. They were proven to be the first blenders to "marry" their malt and grain whiskies in 500-litre sherry butts for a few months before bottling.

The CEO at the time, Enzo Visone, pursued new ideas because he felt that the Glen Grant Single Malt Scotch was an ideal fit for the Campari portfolio of 50 brands in the vermouth, liqueur, vodka, rum, gin, tequila and whisky segments. Alongside the bourbons Wild Turkey and Russell's Reserve and the Canadian whisky Forty Creek , the Glen Grant Single Malt perfectly complemented the growing international spirits portfolio. In Uruguay, Gregson's , distributed by Campari, is one of the popular whisky brands, as are the blends Old Eight and Drury's in Brazil.

The London-born CEO of the Italian spirits manufacturer intended to lead the Glen Grant Single Malt, which has been popular in Italy since 1962, to new international size and recognition. The Italian market is nevertheless the most important not only for Glen Grant, but also for other Campari products. The five-year-old 40% ABV Glen Grant Single Malt, which is only sold there, was traditionally the real representative of Scottish whisky in cafes and restaurants alongside the world-famous Johnnie Walker Red Label . However, sales figures are currently falling. The Speysider has to share the favor of guests with other competitors.

“In the medium term, we want to be among the top five in the industry,”

The then Campari boss summed it up. Dennis Malcolm was to play a central role in the reorientation of the products. His expertise guaranteed the consistent quality of the Glen Grant single malts. At that time, almost 40% of Glen Grant's annual production went to the Italian market. This dependency was to be broken by placing the product in other markets. This is how American customers rediscovered the Glen Grant single malt in their stores after a long time.

Campari put the whisky from Rothes back on an accelerating track.

A life for whisky

Dennis Malcolm returned to his old place of work, which he knew down to the smallest detail, and moved into the Manager's House on the hill of the distillery, where he still lives today. In the mid-1970s, as Assistant Manager, he had already supervised and directed production at Glen Grant and Caperdonich - also known as Glen Grant 2.

After an interim management of the Glenlivet Distillery (1979), the Master Distiller worked for a further nine years from 1983 as manager in his old distillery in Rothes, before taking over overall management of nine distilleries and three farms at the Chivas Brothers group in their Strathisla headquarters. He began his career in the Scottish whisky industry at Glen Grant at the age of fifteen. Following his father's advice, Dennis followed in his father's and his grandfather's footsteps. Both had spent their entire working lives as mashmen, stillmen or warehousemen in the Grant distillery, as was the tradition for many families in Speyside. At that time, more than sixty people often worked in the cooperage, malthouse, distillery, warehouses and administration. The distilleries were the largest and usually the only employers in the small Highland communities.

Dennis Malcolm was born in January 1946 in the shadow of the warehouses of the Glen Grant Distillery in Rothes. The Glen Grant Burn burbled right next to his parents' small cottage in New Street. From his room he looked across to the chimneys of the Glen Grant malthouse. Every day he smelled the acrid smoke of the peat fires and the roasted aromas of the malt that permeated the small town with its five whisky distilleries: Caperdonich, Glen Grant, Glenrothes, Glen Spey and Speyburn.

The spirit of alcohol was always in the air. Of course, the distilleries were also attractive playgrounds for the kids. They played hide and seek there, hid between the barrels, in the barley lofts or in the still houses. Years later, the facilities would provide the rewards for Dennis and many of his playmates.

Malcolm grew up in the orderly world of a typical small highland village.

He regularly went to church with his parents on Sundays at the parish church in High Street, which was built in 1781. The acquisition of Christian values was very important in his family during his childhood and youth. The whisky specialist continues to actively practice Christian life in the Church of Scotland to this day.

Almost seventy years later, every child in the community on the River Spey, which has just 1,300 residents, knows him. As a member of the school board, he was involved in the primary school's children's and youth education. He has been a volunteer in the Rothes Congregation for many years as a Session Clerk and Elder . On Sundays, he and other Elders distribute the Holy Sacrament during Communion to the believers sitting around a symbolic table of the Last Supper. Many a meeting with Reverend Robert Anderson and the other presbyters of the convent took place over a sip of whisky in the rooms of the Glen Grant Distillery.

It is no exaggeration to say that Dennis Malcolm is a highly respected public figure in Rothes and Elgin. Wherever he appears, people know him. They like him and praise his many voluntary activities and his involvement in shaping community life. He is indeed a busy man and radiates infectious enthusiasm, great friendliness and unlimited willingness to help. As soon as he enters a room, his aura takes hold, a great openness and natural gift for listening is evident. People approach him without hesitation and show their appreciation, which is impressively felt every time they meet him. These human qualities have helped him to take on managerial roles in the whisky industry since his younger years.

As a cooper's apprentice in 1961, Dennis Malcom began his long and eventful journey to becoming a highly respected expert in Scotland and the whisky world, who was honored with the Speyside Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding achievements in 2014. The physically demanding five-year cooper's apprenticeship laid the foundation for his whisky knowledge.

“The barrel plays a crucial role in developing the aromas and flavours of a whisky,”

explains the master distiller. The training also taught him basic skills in organisation, cooperation and perseverance. He acquired detailed technical knowledge about the effect of wood on the maturation of the barley spirit. As a journeyman, he was then able to assess the quality of the oak delivered from Europe and America in order to make the best barrels. At just 20 years of age, the intelligent and highly motivated young man moved from cooperage to production. He learned the steps of distilling a whisky spirit from scratch and, on top of that, at the age of 24 he became a brewer, a kind of foreman in the Glen Grant Distillery.

Whisky as it should be

“Unlike other denser and stronger single malts, we distill a fresh and light, yet complex alcohol.
It is the result of the narrow and tall stills with their special innovative purifiers, which were developed by James Grant Jr., known as The Major, after the takeover in 1872 and still show their purifying effect today.
The slightly oilier and heavier alcohols are repeatedly returned to the still, and the frequent copper contact makes the new make purer and crisper,"

Dennis Malcolm describes the sensory quality of his double distilled barley brandy.

“Our whiskies are famous for their easy drinking quality, their bright, clear and golden colour and their smooth, fruity and full-bodied taste.”

Glen Grant is known and loved for the young, sparkling character of a white whisky , as the locals in Rothes and the surrounding area like to call it. "For me, it's not the colour that matters, but the heart of the whisky, the aromas and the taste," emphasises the Speysider.

The use of local summer barley is crucial for the characteristic quality of Glen Grant single malts. It was malted in the company's own drum maltings (the first in Scotland) until 1972, but was then purchased from industrial malt houses in the region for cost and capacity reasons. The soft water from the Caperdonich spring bubbles in large quantities and ensures the continuous mashing of the malt and lautering of the sugary wort.

A total of 28 lautering processes are carried out around the clock, seven days a week. The slow fermentation of the wort flowing from the mash tun over 48 hours in ten 60,000-litre pinewood vats produces a beer - the Scots call this liquid wash - which is fractionated into alcohol and water during a slow, parallel and double distillation in eight tall, narrow stills.

However, the raw and fine spirit bubbles, which are equipped with cylinders, the so-called German helmets, and reflux balls, are only filled up to two-thirds. In this way, a remaining large copper surface absorbs the sulphurous compounds that are created during malting and fermentation and are detrimental to the aromas of the spirit, like a catalyst.

The purifiers or dephlegmators installed in all stills have a significant influence on the quality of the barley distillate. The precursor to the distillate is a somewhat coarse alcohol, which is cleaned again in specially designed cleaning devices through further contact with copper and thus aromatically refined. For example, over 320 liters of heavy and oily alcohols flow back into the boiler during the distillation process in the fine distillation pot and are cleaned several times through repeated stripping through further contact with copper.

In 2016 , around 2.2 million liters of spirit (around four million liters in 2023) flowed through the now computer-controlled system . The heart of the spirit is between 72% vol. and 63/62% vol. The new make with an average alcohol strength of 69% vol. is reduced with water to 63.5% vol. and is transformed into whiskeys after a storage period of at least three years, mainly in bourbon and some sherry oak barrels. These are stored in the Dunnage Warehouses, typical of Scotland, near the River Spey.

“Maturation cannot be rushed.
Whiskies, like wines, mature at their own pace. Our whisky matures slowly in selected oak barrels.
This gives it enough time to bond with the wood. Maturation as it should be,"

explains master distiller Dennis Malcolm. A highlight of his professional career was the composition of a single malt, for which he selected whiskies from special barrels he had laid down from the 1960s to the 2000s. Five Decades marks his personal legacy, which celebrates more than fifty years in the whisky business. In 2013, only 12,000 bottles were released into shops worldwide.

Twelve months later, Campari surprised everyone with a product launch in Hong Kong, China. A fifty-year-old Glen Grant single malt was presented, the spirit of which had been filled into an oak barrel by Dennis Malcolm on October 28, 1963. This speciality was offered in 150 gold-decorated Glencairn crystal decanters in the shape of a narrow-necked Glen Grant wash still to mark the launch of the Glen Grant single malts in Asia. The rare edition with a natural alcohol strength of 54.4% vol. sold for around 10,000 euros each in 2014.

“Our long history is one of tradition and innovation. It promoted the construction of the first railway in the North, was the first to use electric power and innovated whisky-making with its 'young and crisp' main expression...
It's the men that are important, not the machines."

At the end of 2015, Dennis Malcolm was honored by the London International Wine and Spirit Competition with the award for outstanding achievements in the Scottish whisky industry. The internationally renowned American whisky magazine Whisky Advocate honored the master distiller and manager of the Glen Grant Distillery for his life's work with the Lifetime Achievement Award. After more than 55 years of responsible work in the whisky business, he ended his career as a manager at the same time. But he didn't go completely... the whisky fanatic will continue to contribute his expertise as a master blender to the Glen Grant Distillery and will give the Glen Grant Single Malt a face worldwide as a whisky ambassador.

In January 2016, the unique Master Distiller and Justice of the Peace Dennis David Alexander Malcolm celebrated his seventieth birthday. A few months later, he was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II . The award was presented by HRH Princess Anne at Buckingham Palace in London.

Today the Glen Grant Distillery is managed by Greig Stables.

Distillery Manager Greig Stables welcomes Ernie's Whisky KulTOUR group 2018.


The distillery was renovated and partially rebuilt in 1973. The light-flooded stillhouse from 1986 with its impressive parade of four pairs, one wash still and one pot still, is one of the most spectacular in Scotland. In the former stillhouse, the unusually shaped copper stills, installed in 1865, were heated directly by coal fires from stokers.

In those years, Glen Grant was one of the largest distilleries in the Highlands, with an annual distillation volume of around 100,000 litres. The old Victorian facility originally had four copper stills of different sizes. The wash stills, which were fired directly with coal - their rum magers were driven by a mill wheel - had the purifiers inside, while in the spirit stills the distilled alcohol was purified by external, very voluminous purifiers.

The low wines and spirits were condensed in huge cast-iron water-cooled worm tubs. After the takeover by the world's largest spirits manufacturer at the time, the Canadian Seagram Company Ltd., in 1978, direct coal firing was resumed after a brief phase of gas heating. Mechanical conveyor belts made the stokers' strenuous work easier. Today, the liquids in the stills' boilers are heated by an internal steam heater.

Tourists can admire one of the old stills, affectionately called Wee Gordie by the workers after their stoker, in front of the visitor center. Malt production in the Drum Maltings ended in 1972. The Victorian Stillhouse was demolished after 1980.

Where does the Glen Grant Malt mature?

In 2008, not far from the distillery, Campari acquired eleven more warehouses from Chivas Brothers at the Rothes site on the banks of the River Spey in order to mature the freshly distilled spirits in them. Under Dennis's construction management, the roofs were re-covered with slate, the traditional dunnage warehouses were wired and brought back into shape at a cost of four million pounds. The Glen Grant Burn trickles along them and ensures that the ground is constantly moistened. Since 2009, the spirit has been gradually maturing into a whisky in oak barrels in the damp, dark warehouses with their low average temperatures.

10 year old bottling

This authentic Glen Grant single malt is Dennis Malcolm's masterpiece. Since June 2016, it has also been released in Germany in a slimmer bottle. Like the other products in the updated portfolio, this bottle has a striking label, adorned with the new logo with the intertwined letters of the Grant family crest "J" ( J ames Grant Jr.), "R" ( R ose, his first wife), and "G" ( G rant). Campari hopes that the 10-year-old will be in line with the trend in the whisky market and meet the quality demands of Glen Grant fans throughout Germany. "This will close a gap between us and the high-priced single malts."

The German Helmets. The indirect steam heating of the wash still with pots.

By vatting malts matured in bourbon barrels, Glen Grant's master blender managed to conjure up a sensational fruitiness on the nose that will delight real whisky connoisseurs for a long time. The harmonious cocktail of fresh pear, apple, apricot and citrus notes is paired with a light maltiness and a little caramel. On the tongue, it changes from an initial sweetness to a slightly astringent, spicy, almost peppery note, which is accompanied by a surprisingly delicate smoky impression. The 40% alcohol by volume is very well integrated and does not appear pungent at all. However, due to the chill filtration, this whisky lacks a little oiliness on the tongue, which reduces the intensity and complexity of the fruitiness. On the other hand, the addition of ice cubes, which is so popular with Americans, does not cause any clouding in the whisky tumbler. With a retail price of 25 to 30 euros, the 'liquid orchard' is a very affordable single malt Scotch that is more than convincing on the nose and tongue. A must for every connoisseur.

It is therefore no wonder that whisky expert Jim Murray has named the 10-year-old the “Best Single Malt Scotch” in the “10 Years and Under” category in his Whisky Bible for the fifth time in a row. No other malt has ever received this award. The portfolio sold in Germany includes The Major's Reserve (without an age statement), a 12-year-old and an 18-year-old single malt (only sporadically) as well as some limited releases. Air travelers can purchase a 12-year-old bottling with an alcohol concentration of 48% volume in the duty-free shop, which has not been chill-filtered. The aromatic and flavor diversity that develops during maturation in oak barrels is therefore completely preserved in its naturalness and creaminess.

Nosing. The quality of the 10 year batch is checked.

Label Five Decades

The Five Decades Single Malt Whisky was created by Dennis Malcolm himself and documents his more than fifty-year connection to the Glen Grant Distillery. It is a composition of rare barrels that date back to his active time and whose development he observed over decades. With an alcohol strength of 46% vol., only 12,000 bottles of the blend were bottled in 2013 without an age statement. Only 555 examples reached the German whisky world. The issue price at the time was €99. Today, a collector's bottle costs around €220.

Colour: light gold. Nose: a complex bundle of honey, vanilla and sherry aromas. Fresh apple scents, with a hint of cinnamon. Tongue: sweet, soft and creamy, with caramel and vanilla notes and hints of dark dried fruits, very subtle and delicately spicy. Conclusion: Extremely pleasant aromatic and harmonious appearance. Aromas and taste form a unity that lasts a long time. The Five Decades is a very authentic Glen Grant malt.

The effect of the purifiers

A unique system of stills with helmets, balls, slim necks and long spirit pipes (lyne arms) as well as water-cooled purifiers - dephlegmators - guarantees a "pure, fruity and crisp" barley spirit in all stills during the fractionation of water and alcohol. After James Grant's death in 1872, his 25-year-old son James developed special water-cooled "purifiers".

He was helped by the young, technically very skilled George Grant, former manager of the Linkwood Distillery. Today, the purifiers return over 320 litres of heavy alcohols to the 11,547 litre fine spirit pot per distillation process. The constant backflow and repeated removal of the alcohols increase the degree of purity of the new make spirit, as the barley spirits often come into contact with the copper. Modern, high-performance countercurrent tube condensers, also made of copper, reinforce this effect.

The repeated catalytic effect is ultimately decisive for the pure and fruity aroma and taste profile of Glen Grant's single malts. Around four million liters of pure alcohol were produced in 2022.

Purifiers and Wash Stills

James Grant Jr., son and nephew of the distillery founders James and John Grant, used his innovative ideas to transform the distillery, which he inherited in 1872, into one of the most famous and technologically advanced distilleries of its time. When the whisky historian Alfred Barnard visited Glen Grant in 1886, he reported that the distillery was the first in Scotland to generate electricity using a generator, replacing the water power of the mill wheels that drove the lauter tun. The inventive James Grant Jr. was one of the first to revolutionize the traditional, labor-intensive and cost-intensive floor malting process in 1898. By installing mechanical drum maltings, he was able to produce larger quantities of barley malt for Glen Grant and Glen Grant 2 at low cost. Another new feature was a patented drying system for the spent grain, the waste from the lauter tun, which was sold as animal feed in the region and in northern England. His innovations set standards in distillation technology. They laid the foundation for the “pure, fruity and crisp” spirit that made Glen Grant the world-famous brand from Speyside.

Colour matching with colourant E150a (caramel)

Bottling Hall

His love of Scottish whisky and environmental issues combined

HRH Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales and Duke of Rothsay, dressed in a Stuart Hunting Tartan Kilt and a green tweed jacket, in April 2013 when he opened the new bottling plant at the Glen Grant Distillery. It was only the second visit by a member of the Royal Family after the visit of his aunt, Princess Margaret, in 1959. The plant, which was made in Italy, can fill 12,000 bottles of whisky per hour.

In 2015, its capacity was expanded to enable it to gently bottle premium whiskies. Glen Grant is one of the few Scottish distilleries that bottle their products at the distillery itself. It is also the only one that bears a family name.

Distillery with Park

The distillery, originally founded under the name Rothes, developed into a renowned address under James Grant Jr. Glen Grant whiskeys were sold successfully as high-priced spirits in England, Scotland and the colonies. Annual production reached 240,000 gallons (607,250 liters) in 1886.

In everyday life, "Major" James Grant behaved like a Scottish lord, almost like a typical feudal landowner. The wealthy whisky baron loved grouse hunting, salmon fishing in the Spey, and big game hunting in India and Africa. He was married three times and was popular with women as a dancer. When he was in Scotland, he lived in Glen Grant House, a lavishly decorated mansion in the Scottish baronial style on the grounds of the distillery. James Grant loved nature and in 1886 he created an extensive refuge for plants from Scotland, as well as from Africa, India, and Australia, in a small, sheltered valley directly bordering his distillery. Today, fruit trees, flowerbeds, bushes, and lawns form the paradisiacal beauty of this natural Victorian Landscaped Garden . In his time, well over ten gardeners were responsible for the development and care of the magnificent plants. In his Faerie Croft, modeled on a poor hut, he and his guests enjoyed a " Special Dram of Whisky." “We restored this park to its original beauty in 1996 and today it is thriving just as it did in days gone by,” says Dennis Malcolm happily.

The Park and Major Grant’s Safe.
A special tasting during Ernie's Whisky KulTOUR with Dennis Malcolm 2018.

Order of the British Empire

Dennis Malcolm was awarded the Order of the British Empire by HRH Princess Anne at Buckingham Palace in 2016 for his outstanding services to the whisky industry and his voluntary work for the Speyside region.

“I am at a loss for words and very surprised to receive an award like this.
My grandfather worked for Major Grant and my father was also in the whisky industry.
To a certain extent, my fate was already predetermined.
In my opinion, this honour belongs to every single person in the Speyside region and I only accept it on their behalf.
Speyside has been so good to me and I have always tried my best to give something back.”

Nature as it should be

James Grant, a lawyer, and his brother John, a moonshiner and smuggler, founded the first distillery in the town of Rothes in 1840. They had gained experience as operators of the Aberlour Distillery on the River Spey. They developed their distillery into the largest in northern Scotland. This was made possible by the solicitor James Grant, who successfully combined his political and economic influence as Provost of Elgin - a kind of mayor - with his own economic interests.

He was one of the driving forces and one of the major investors in the construction of the Morayshire Railway, which connected the Glen Grant Distillery with the world from 1858. Whisky gradually began to boom. The railway not only brought whisky barrels to the North Sea port of Lossiemouth more cheaply and quickly, but also to national and international markets. His single malt sold very well in Scotland, England and in North America, South Africa and Australia. The phylloxera plague in the Charente and the resulting destruction of all the vineyards made Scotch acceptable from 1875 onwards, as the flow of cognac, which was so popular among bourgeois and feudal families, dried up.

Major Grant's House in Elgin. Today a hotel. The initials on the gate now adorn the labels of the bottles.


A detailed photographic tour of the Glen Grant Distillery allows

The Gateway to Distilleries
double click photo


About the author

Ernie - Ernst J. Scheiner is the editor of the website The Gateway to Distilleries . He photographically documents over 150 distilleries from the inside and describes the production of whiskies in detail. Since his studies at the University of Edinburgh, he has been involved with the subject of whisky and has published in specialist magazines

such as Ireland Journal, Kleinbrennerei, Whisky Passion and The Highland Herold . Features and stories appeared in the blogs whiskyexperts, whiskyfanblog and whiskyintelligence . As head of the VHS Ingelheim, and now as whisky ambassador, he has lead distillation colleges, study trips and whisky culture tours to the sources of whisky.

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