Glenkinchie distillery lies near the town of Pencaitland about 18 kilometres southeast of Edinburgh. The distillery was founded by the two local farmers and brothers George and John Rate. They had produced modest amounts of whisky for several years ‘on the side’ but increased capacity in 1825. At the same time they properly named their distillery and chose to call it the Milton Distillery. However in 1837 they renamed the distillery to Glenkinchie, probably because the Strathisla Distillery was also called Milton Distillery at the time. The name Glenkinchie is derived from the glen of the Kinchie Burn which flows through the town.
The Rate brothers were bankrupted in 1853 and the distillery was bought by another farmer who used Glenkinchie as a cowshed and for sawmilling. In 1881 he sold it to a consortium from Edinburgh which after a few years formed the Glenkinchie Distillery Co Ltd. The distillery was renovated in 1891 and the company at the same time built housing for the workers. During a crisis in the whisky industry connected to WW1 they joined with four other Lowland Distilleries and formed the Scottish Malt Distillers. Of the five distilleries only Glenkinchie remains today; the Grange, Clydelsdale, St Magdalene and Rosebank distilleries have all been closed.
Glenkinchie is included in the Six Classic Mats range marketed by Diageo and is a highly appreciated Lowland whisky. The Distillers Edition bottlings have been finished in amontillado sherry casks.
Production at Glenkinchie
Glenkinchie draw their water from a source at the Lammermuir Hills which also feeds the Kinchie Burn. They used to malt their own barley up until 1968 when the malting facility was converted into a museum (the Museum of Malt Whisky). The malt is currently bought from Roseisle Maltings in the north east of Scotland. The malt is ground to grist in a Porteus mill before it is filled into the steel mash tun. The fermentation takes place in six washbacks made from Oregon pine.
Since Glenkinchie is a Lowland distillery you might expect them to triple distil their whisky as tradition dictates, but Glenkinchie is only distilled in one pair of stills. The two stills are unusually lantern shaped and among the largest in Scotland; the wash still holds 21 000 litres ant the spirit still holds 17 200 litres. The whisky is filled into both bourbon and sherry casks which are stored in warehouses on site.
The annual production capacity of Glenkinchie is 1.6 million litres. Bottling is done outside of Glasgow in Leven, Fife.
Phone: +44 (0) 1875 342004
Fax: +44 (0) 1875 342007
Visitors: The visitor centre is open November-March Monday-Friday 12am-4pm. Easter-October Monday-Saturday 10am-3pm and Sunday 12am-5pm. The guided tours start every half hour and the last tour begins one hour before closing time. The tour costs £4 and the amount is refundable on purchase in the gift shop. The visitor centre also houses the Museum of Malt Whisky which among many other things exhibits a model of a malt distillery that was made for the impressive British Empire Exhibition of 1924-25. A must-see!