The acquisition on the 20th March 2013 of Glenglassaugh Scotch Distillery on the sunny Banffshire coast by the progressive BenRiach Distillery Company heralds another exciting chapter for Glenglassaugh distillery. The site closed in 1986 and spent the next 22 years in enforced hibernation until its re-opening by the Scaent Group in late 2008. The Whisky Barrel Blog Team visited the distillery only last year and were highly impressed with its refurbishment programme and future plans for encouraging whiskey tourists - but even more impressed by the enthusiasm of the staff and by the quality of its young Scotch. Back in Scottish ownership, what is in store for this re-emerging whiskey distillery?
Since 2008 the Scaent Group based investment company which has done a remarkable job in re-opening and sparking life back into Glenglassaugh, which might otherwise have become yet another lost Scotch distillery. New owners, The BenRiach Distillery Company, have set out clear plans for further investment in Glenglassaugh distillery and to bring its output up to full working capacity. With a portfolio including the Benriach and Glendronach distilleries and a big bottling plant near Edinburgh, the new owners certainly have the nous, track record and the vision to return Glenglassaugh to a key producer within the Scotch industry.
To date the rejuvenated Glenglassaugh has released a small range of Scotch bottlings mainly from its older stock and even fewer from its new production. The older range includes the Glenglassaugh 36 Year Old, Glenglassaugh 26 Year Old, Manager’s Legacy range and The Chosen Few series. Glenglassaugh Revival which, as its name suggests, commemorates the refurbishment and re-opening of the distillery in 2008 is produced from its new Scotch matured in first and refill ex-bourbon casks and finished for six months in fine, first fill ex-Oloroso sherry butts. And therein is a hint of things to come for Glenglassaugh is maturing both peated and non-peated whiskey in ex-bourbon, ex-sherry and ex-wine casks in warehouses close to the sea shore.
The BenRiach distillers are an ambitious bunch so it’s not just the whiskey being given a new lease of life. They recently re-instated the malting floors at the Benriach Distillery so that an important part of the whisky making process will be completed on site – great news for single malt scotch enthusiasts and distillery visitors alike. This may be a risky strategy from a commercial perspective given the high costs of malting but it demonstrates their desire to reinstate, where feasible, traditional processes and a hands on approach for their staff. No doubt something interesting will develop at Glenglassaugh in due course.
With bright sea views, access to the sandy beach and an excellent range of distillery tours, we will return soon to explore Glenglassaugh’s new visitor centre café. Such is the speed of progress, just weeks after the takeover, tradesmen are already busy working at Glenglassaugh distillery.
With Billy Walker at the helm, this master blender’s enthusiasm and ambition for Glenglassaugh is certainly apparent when the purchase was announced: “We’re really delighted to buy Glenglassaugh, a renowned Highland single malt with a rich and distinguished heritage. It’s an excellent complementary fit with our existing BenRiach and GlenDronach brands. Part of its attraction to us is that it isn’t too large for our portfolio but its potential in contributing to the group certainly is.”
“It’s our intention to bring this iconic distillery fully back to life by giving it the investment, commitment and care it deserves. I believe our whisky expertise, proven brand-building ability and strong routes to market will help take Glenglassaugh to the next level.”