Glen Keith is one of the younger distilleries in Scotland, having only been founded in 1957 by the Chivas Brothers. It is located in the beautiful Speyside town of Keith, within eyeshot of Strathisla, the oldest distillery in Scotland. Although the distillery has not been active for very long, especially by single malt distillery standards, its history is a significant one, filled with innovation and experiment. In the 1970s, after a successful first decade of production, the distillery expanded from two stills to five.
Scotland. In 1983, a sixth still was installed, completing the series of stills that are still used today. In 1999, the distillery was mothballed. It lay quiet for over a decade, until a large-scale renovation began in 2012. It was re-opened in 2013, with its production capacity increasing from 3.5 million liters to 6 million. The majority of the single malt produced at the site is still used in the Chivas Brothers owned-blends, although Chivas themselves have been taken over by Pernod Ricard.
When the distillery was built, large racked warehouses were constructed to the side of the site to house the single malt. The spirit that is used in the Chivas blends is transported almost immediately off-site. Glen Keith used unpeated maltings in its production. The distillery used it’s own maltings from it’s founding to 1976, when they were decommissioned, along with the distillery’s Saladin Boxes. Today the distillery sources maltings from an industrial site.
Glen Keith has three wash and three spirit stills, two pairs of which were installed in 1970. The spirit stills have a tall shape, with long, gradually narrowing necks, whereas the wash stills have an onion shape. For ten years the distillery switched between double and triple distillation, until double distillation was undertaken permanently in the 1980s.
Glen Keith was built with the express intention of mass producing single malt to be used in blends orientated towards the American market, which accounts for it’s modern production capacity of 6 million liters. The production capacity was almost doubled when the distillery re-opened in 2013 after being closed for over a decade. The water used in its production is drawn from springs on the nearby Balloch hill. In keeping with its experimental history, Glen Keith was also the first distillery to trial automatic mashing in the 1980s.