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Glenkinchie lies in the valley of the Kinchie Burn, near the village of Pencaitland, East Lothian.
Brothers John and George Rate were the founders of the Glenkinche Distillery in 1837. In 1840, there was a take over. In 1852 John Rate bought the distillery once more, but had to close it in 1853, due to profits being low.
In 1890, the site was opened again by a consortium of distillers and wine merchants, who called themselves the Glen Kinchie Distillery Company. In 1914, Glenkinchie was one five distilleries that formed the famous Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd (SMD).
Expectedly, the distillery ceased operations between 1917-1919, due to the World War I. In 1925, SMD was purchased by Distillers Company Limited. Floor maltings were closed in 1968, and Glenkinchie progressed with series of developments, until today.
Glenkinchie produces 1.3 million liters of Whisky per year. It has one giant wash still and one spirit still. Both are uniquely shaped, with a concave surface at their intermediate sections.
Until 1968, maltings were sourced from Lothian's, but after 1968 industrial maltings were the main source. Warehouses can hold up to 10,000 casks, which are composed mostly of American ex-Bourbon and Amontillado Sherry casks.
CountryUnited Kingdom, Scotland
No. of stills2
AddressGlenkinchie Distillery Pencaitland Tranent East Lothian EH34 5ET United Kingdom
A transcript for non-audio situations
Man 1: Often referred to as the Edinburgh Malt, Glenkinchie is the Lowland malt in Diageo's Classic Six. The distillery is in farm country in the rural Lammermuir Hills, near the village of Pencaitland. Only about 15 miles from the Scottish capital.
Man 2: 1837 is when we know there is evidence of a license being taken out. The name comes from the Norman conquest when the de Quincy family were granted lands in this area. And de Quincy derived into Kinchie, and then Glenkinchie because we have little Glen here and in fact, the little stream that runs through and under the distillery is called the Kinchie Bottom, hence the name. Glenkinchie, because of location, is a Lowland malt. One of very few left in operation nowadays. Why is it different? It's different because of the location, because of the process, because of the size of the stills, because of the way that we condense that spirit from the vapor into liquid.
Man 1: One of the highlights in a Glenkinchie visit is the museum-like marble distillery.
Man 2: We have something on display here which is a model of a distillery. The model was built in 1924. No other distillery has this model or anything like it. So without actually going round the distillery, a visitor can actually walk through this model and see every single facet of the process as it was then. The interesting thing for them then to do is, of course to go on the distillery tour and compare then and now and see what differences there are. And in some instances, there are not very many.
So what we have here is the raw barley intake. It went up through the elevator into a dresser which took out straw, barley stones, whatever. And the clean grain then went up into the loft area here to be stored on the barley floor. Which is the equivalent of the floor right above of us in the room we're in. From there the barley was taken then into the steeps. Water was added to start the germination process. That process after a day to two days took place on the germination floor here, where the grain was allowed to continue to germinate over 10 to 12 days. At the end of germination, they would have gone into the kiln, spread out on this mesh floor here. And heat from the furnace down below would have been allowed to pass through the grain for the drying process. Excess heat and steam going out through the kiln roof. And the dried grain at the end of the process going forward into the bins.
At this point in the process peat could be burned, and would have been used for the Island Malts and West Coast Malts. Less so for Speyside and obviously the Lowland malts. But that's the point where we can influence the bitterness of the barley. From the storage bins where it would have stayed for 4 to 6 weeks perhaps, it was then taken through another dressing machine. And that took off little shoots and rootlets that were left in the barley. It was then weighed, and went down the malt mill to be ground prior to the mashing process. The grist from the mill went through into the storage bins above the mash tun itself. And from there we have the mashing process where the grist and hot water are mixed together through the mashing machine into the mash tun. Cast iron in those days, mostly you'll see stainless steel ones nowadays.
Washbacks, traditionally we keep wooden washbacks at Glenkinchie. Some distilleries have moved to stainless steel. They both are pretty effective for what they do. Personally, I prefer to see the product fermented in wood. I think it just adds that little something to it. A little... I can't justify exactly what it adds to it.
At the end of 6 day of fermentation, the product is then pretty strong alcohol. It goes through into the steel hose to go through the double distillation which will produce the final spirit. How is that vapor cooled? Well, it's cooled in warren [SP] tubs. And warren tubs vary a little bit from distillery to distillery. The traditional ones have wooden circular tubs like these and you can see the coil going into it reduces in diameter from top to bottom. Where you've got lots of vapor in the top and you're in the liquid phase at the bottom. Cold water coming up through there to aid the cooling. And the distillate then returning back into the distillery to the spirit safe where the stillman can actually see what's going on in the process for the first time. He can see the alcohol, he can measure the strength of it, he can see the clarity of it. Having got the spirit in the spirit receiver in the stillhouse, it then is transferred into the filling store where we measure how much alcohol we've produced. And then obviously have to get that into casks. This is the point where from a distillery we've done all we can to influence the character of the spirit. We then allow nature to take over because the short time we've had to influence it is a matter of days. The spirit is then going to go into the cask to mature over something like 10, 12, 14, 16 years depending on which distillery you're referring to and for Glenkinchie that's a minimum of 10 years in cask.