Glenfiddich is also one of the most popular distilleries with visitors. In part this is because its name is so well known, but in large measure it is because the visitor facilities are so good. A lot of thought has been given to ensuring everyone gets the best possible experience, and this particularly shows in facilities such as the cafe, which offers outstanding food at very reasonable prices. The Glenfiddich shop is also exceptionally good, and is especially well stocked with the products of the distillery and its close neighbour and sister distillery, Balvenie.
Combine this with a friendly welcome, well trained tour guides and free standard tours, and it is easy to see why Glenfiddich exerts such an attraction. Those wanting a closer look can book a much more in-depth "Connoisseur's Tour". The standard tour ends up in the beautifully set out Malt Barn in which participants can sip their complimentary dram or, for drivers, their orange juice while looking forward to opening their free miniature later.
Glenfiddich had its origins in the autumn of 1886, when William Grant purchased land here on which to build his new distillery. On Christmas Day 1887 the first spirit was produced from the second-hand stills Grant had purchased for £120 from Elizabeth Cummings, owner of Cardow Distillery. The name Glenfiddich came from the Gaelic valley of the deer and the first whisky produced was marketed, as it is today, under the brand of a stag's head.
The distillery is extremely unusual in remaining in the hands of the same family, operating as William Grant & Sons Ltd., throughout its life. It is still owned, together with neighbouring Balvenie, Kininvie and Convalmore Distilleries, by the Grant family. The 1900s was a era of huge change in the distilling industry, with large number of distilleries coming under the ownership of just a few huge companies who controlled much of the market.
Glenfiddich's ground breaking move into single malt whisky in 1963 owed as much to the need to avoid depending on those same giant companies to buy its product to put in their blends as it did on its farsightedness about the future direction of the market for Scotch whisky. Once Glenfiddich had proved there were an ever increasing number of buyers for single malt Scotch outside (and inside) Scotland, other distilleries started to follow their example, and the rest is history. It's been suggested that much of the success of the brand has been down to the very distinctive bottles, with a triangular cross section, initially introduced for blended whiskies produced by Grants in 1957 to make them stand out from the crowd. We suspect that more than a little of the success has also been down to the quality of what has gone into those bottles.
Independent bottlings of whisky are common across the industry. It is interesting to note that almost all bottlings of Glenfiddich (and neighbouring Balvenie) have been carried out by William Grant & Sons. Whisky supplied by the cask from either distillery has always had a tiny amount of the other's whisky added, which legally turns them into vatted malts and prevents anyone else describing independent bottlings as either Balvenie or Glenfiddich