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    Glendronach Single Malt Whisky

    Glendronach sits on the Dronach Burn in Deveron, north of Inverurie and was founded in 1826 by James Allardyce. Within a decade the distillery was destroyed by a fire, but was soon rebuilt thanks to the involvement of some key whisky industry figures including Walter Scott and ‘Captain’ Charles Grant. The distillery was sold to William Teacher & Sons (who later became Allied Distillers) in 1976.

    Allied Distillers ultimately took the decision to mothball Glendronach in 1996. Unusually the distillery was then re-opened in 2002 without changing ownership, although Allied Distillers (which had subsequently changed to Allied Domecq) was later bought over by Pernod Ricard in 2005. Glendronach was then purchased byThe BenRiach Distillery Company in 2008, who oversaw the revitalisation of the brand – as they had previously done with Ben Riach whisky. A renovation of the distillery was quickly undertaken and a number of new bottles added to the core range. There are now 12, 15, and 18 year old expressions all widely available and the stature of the Glendronach brand has grown considerably since this takeover.

    'Redcurrant jelly is good for the belly. Ginger and nuts are good for the guts. But the wine of Glendronach is good for the stomach. '

    So ran the old saw, no doubt put about by James Allardice, the founder of Glendronach Distillery in 1825, under the patronage of his landlord, the 4th Duke of Gordon, who had steered the Excise Act of 1823 through Parliament, thus laying the foundations of the modern Scotch whisky industry. Alexander Gordon, the Duke, was so impressed by Mr. Allardice that he introduced him to London Society, among whom he apparently established something of a reputation for his ‘Guid Glendronach’.

    Another tale tells of the opening of an even better market… Keen to introduce his whisky to Edinburgh, James travelled there with ‘a large barrel and a flagon’ and approached a number of publicans. All had stocked up for the season and no orders were forthcoming. Wandering disconsolately back down the Canongate to his hotel, he was accosted by two ‘ladies of the night’, who pressed him to take them for a drink. “Ah hae my aine guid Glendronach”, he told them, and plied them with the same. Next day they returned for more, and he gave them the remains of his flagon. The excellence of Glendronach spread like wildfire throughout the Old Town of Edinburgh, and everyone wanted to taste it.

    As the story goes, James did not return home as planned the following day. Instead, he stayed a while in Edinburgh where he sold all his stock. Not long after, bottles could be found in every pub along the Royal Mile! He was also a welcome guest at Gordon Castle. On one occasion, having been, as the Americans say, ‘over-served’, he was ‘over-effusive’ in his praise of the Duchess of Gordon’s piano playing. The following morning, the Duke informed him that the Duchess was not amused, to which the bold Allardice replied: “Well, Your Grace, it was just the trash of Glenlivet you gave me yesterday after dinner that did not agree wi’me. If it had been my aim guid Glendronach, I would not hae been ony the warr”.

    The Duke had also encouraged another of his tenants, George Smith in Glenlivet, to become one of the earliest licensed distillers on Speyside. We are assured that a cask of Glendronach was ordered immediately. The distillery was largely rebuilt in the 1850s, following a disastrous fire in 1837 and passed through several hands until 1920 when it was bought by Captain Charles Grant, youngest son of William Grant of Glenfiddich for £9,000. His son sold the distillery to William Teacher & Sons in 1960, who expanded it to four stills – its present capacity; unusually, they remained direct fired by coal until September 2005.

    Then, in July 2008, Glendronach was sold to Billy Walker, owner of BenRiach Distillery and one of the best regarded distillers in the business. He has created what is accurately described on the distillery’s website as a ‘renaissance’. While it may have moved onto a new stage of its life, the owners of Glendronach are keen on maintaining the heritage of the distillery and strive to uphold the traditional production methods which have been in place since it was founded. The confluence of tradition and forward thinking makes for a sherried dram with a lot of character.

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