Glenfiddich distillery is situated at the bottom of the hill as you drive north out of the small and very quaint Dufftown. Most of the distilleries in Speyside, the capital of malt whisky distilling, sit on the banks of the Spey or its tributaries - one of which, the river Fiddich, has become especially synonymous with malt production. The Glenfiddich Distillery lies on the banks of the Fiddich at the (wait for it…) Glen of Fiddich. The name means ‘Valley of the Deer’ - hence the brand’s symbol of the stag.
William Grant, the founder, was born in Dufftown in 1849. Aged 27 he started as a clerk at the Mortlach distillery, working his way up to manager. Over the twenty years he worked there, he "put money aside" until he eventually could buy second-hand patched distilling equipment for £100 from the nearby Cardhu distillery. Grant then built his own distillery to house the equipment and produced the first batch of Glenfiddich on Christmas Day 1887.
The original second-hand stills, which William Grant saved for twenty years to buy, were very small and different shapes. Today, although 28 stills are employed (10 wash and 18 spirit), along with room after room of mash tuns, the stills remain small and the same two different shapes. The ‘middle cut’ is combined in the same way that William combined the cut of the original stills - and, like William Grant's cut, is only around 15% of the total run.
Glenfiddich is the only Highland Single Malt that is distilled, matured and bottled at its own distillery. It is the biggest selling malt whisky in the world and is credited for leading the malt revival. In 1971, the Grant family were the first to market single malts through advertising and created a new and still growing market for malt whisky.