George Smith was running an illegal still on the estate of the Duke of Gordon in the wee early 1800’s. The good old Duke ... ahem ... may or may not have been aware of the illicit operation in exchange for a personal supply. When the Duke helped sponsor legislation in 1823 that made Whiskey distilling legal in the UK, it just so happens that George Smith was the first one granted a license. Now legal and above board, he naturally named his “new” business after the local parish—Glenlivet.
Today Glenlivet is one of the “Big Three” single malt producers, being #1 in the United States and #2 worldwide. Their Whiskies are officially “Speyside,” meaning that they are Highland malts produced along the river Spey, and the water for the Whisky mash comes somewhat famously from “Josie’s Well.”
Glenlivet produces Whiskies in a variety of ages and wood-matured combinations, and the remaining Spirit not bottled as part of their Glenlivet lineup is considered an indispensable component in some of the most famous blends.
The Glenlivet distillery lies near the valley of the Livet river, in Speyside. It was founded in 1824, by George Smith who rented property from the Duke of Richmond & Gordon. He profited from the new laws concerning Whisky production licenses.
Glenlivet distillery became the first licensed distillery in Scotland. Business went very well during the next several years, and Smith bought 4 more farms and built more distilleries. In 1871, Smith passed away, leaving behind a very successful career, and his son John Gordon, who took over management.
John had to deal with other distilleries calling themselves Glenlivet. In 1880, he managed to get the rights of the name 'The Glenlivet'. In 1890, a fire destroyed the distillery, but a resilient John Gordon took advantage of this misfortune, and expanded the distillery.
Up until the 1970s, the distillery had been passed on to the next generations. But after Seagrams bought The Glenlivet Distillers Ltd. in 1978, this trend ended. In 2001, Pernod Ricard took over management, after buying Seagrams.
The Glenlivet Distillery uses the water from Josie’s Well. They use a modern mash tun with wooden washbacks, and have 14 stills of different sizes.
After the decommissioning of floor malting in 1966, Crisp Maltings in Portgordon provided the maltings for the distillery. Warehouses of The Glenlivet distillery can hold up to 65,000 casks of Whisky.