Latest update: May 3rd 2015
GLENGLASSAUGH DISTILLERY PICTURES
Next to the coastline of the North Sea near the town of Portsoy, you will find the Glenglassaugh distillery. Almost forgotten this distillery was brought back to life in 2008. Scaent and investment company that is mainly working in the energy industry. When a member of the management who loved Scotland and whisky very much got the idea, that it might be interesting to buy a distillery, they contracted consultant Stuart Nickerson to find a distillery that would suit them. Stuart’s knowledge of the whisky industry is extensive as he has been working in the distilling industry for many years. They looked at a few distilleries and decided to go for Glenglassaugh which was for sale. The distillery had been silent for many years, as owner Highland Distillers didn’t have any use for the distillery.
The distillery was bought by the Scaent Group and they were able to keep Stuart as the managing director of the distillery. As the distillery was silent for a long time there was a lot of work, and since Stuart also was to be on the road to represent Glenglassaugh to the world he needed a distillery manager to oversee the distilling operations. He convinced Graham Eunson, at that time distillery manager of Glenmorangie, to come to Glenglassaugh. Later he also was able to convince Ronnie Routledge, with experience at Gordon & MacPhail and Duncan Taylor, to come and work for Glenglassaugh to receive visitors and take care of most of the U.K. operations. This means that there is a knowledgeable team working at the distillery that will have to make Glenglassaugh flourish as it has never done before.
Glenglassaugh started distilling in 1895, and was built by local wine & spirit merchant James Moir. He started the business together with Thomas Wilson and his nephews Alexander and William Morrison. As the distillery was first opened the process was set up in a way that gravity would regulate the whole process. At the start of the process there would be one power source to start everything up, and from there everything went down towards the seashore, meaning there was no further power needed to keep the distilling process going. After James and Thomas died, Alexander decided to re-equip the complete distillery. This happened from 1887 up to 1892, when William died. Alexander then sold the distillery to Robertson & Baxter, who sold it on to Highland Distilleries Co Ltd. They ran the distillery until 1908, when it was mothballed. In the 1950’s the distillery was reconstructed. This meant sadly enough, that Highland Distillers demolished most of the buildings. The only building left are the floor malting, which are in a state of decay. Highland Distillers built a complete new distillery on the premises. This is the distillery as it is now still around. The distillery ran from 1960 until 1986, and contributed to the Highland Distillers blends, such as The Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark. In 1986 Glenglassaugh was mothballed once again. This lasted until 2008, when as said Scaent bought the distillery for 5 million pounds.
As I am visiting the distillery, Graham Eunson explains to me that they are not able to produce. Virtually the only new piece of machinery in the distillery, the boiler is down. So no production. As we go along the distillery it is clear that they had to do a lot of work, before they could start distilling again. Around the washbacks there are rims to keep everything together. After not being in production for some odd 20 years, it is unbelievable that this is the only action that they had to take to get the wooden washbacks back to work. Former owner Highland Distilleries obviously wanted to keep them in a reasonable state and came in, in regular intervals to fill the washbacks up with water, so the wood would not dry out. There are also 2 stainless steel washbacks, but they are not in use. Most of the production gear up to the washbacks is from Porteus. The stills and spirit safe carry the sign of Forsyth’s, although they are not originally produced by Forsyth’s, but they took care of the repairs that were done when the distillery was reopened. One of the most remarkable changes was that the former wash still now operates as the spirit still, and thus the spirit still as wash still. This because the spirit still was bigger than the wash still. The result in paying off and producing a good quality spirit. As Glenglassaugh only distils for use of their own single malt, they only are in production for 4 days a week.
In the warehouses there is still a large number of casks which are owned by Highland Distillers and Chivas. As they are taken out they are replaced with own stock and stock of some other small distilleries that don’t have enough space in their own warehouses. The oldest cask around is a 1963, “smelling the cask” brought up some beautiful aroma’s. The same test with a fairly young cask proved that this cask also had an incredible development.
Sitting together with Ronnie Routledge we went through the Glenglassaugh range of spirits and whiskies. This made
quite clear that the people at Glenglassaugh are very
much aware of the fact that they still have a long way to go. But if they
keep going like this, Glenglassaugh
may finally have a reason to live a long productive life.
Aberdeenshire AB45 2SQ
Phone: 0044-(0)1261 842367
Fax: 0044-(0)1261 842421