The Braes of Glenlivet was a major location for illicit stills in the 18th and 19th centuries, and if local rumours are true, the practice continued until relatively recently. This remote, sheltered, high pasture land was ideal for moonshining – the first road to ‘the Braes’ was only laid in the 1960s. The distillery followed in 1972.
Braeval has steadily grown in capacity and is now home to six stills (two large wash and four smaller spirit) all with thin necks and upward sloping lyne arms helping to generate a lighter style with some floral notes.
It is rarely seen as a single malt – even independent bottlers scarcely have any. It shares the honour of being the joint highest distillery in Scotland with Dalwhinnie.
The site was chosen by Seagram – at that point still in pursuit of The Glenlivet – purportedly because of the quality of its water. Famously, the first mash took place before the roof had been put on the distillery because the chairman was coming from Canada to inspect his new baby.
It was one of the first wholly automated distilleries in Scotland and one of the first to contain all of the equipment in a single open-plan space. Although it sports a pagoda roof, no malting has ever taken place.
It became part of Pernod Ricard’s portfolio when the firm took over Seagram’s Scotch whisky division in 2000. The following year, its new owner mothballed it for six years. It is now in full production.