Balvenie Distillery lies in Dufftown right on the banks of the river Fiddich. Balvenie was founded in 1892 by William Grant, the owner of Glenfiddich Distillery which was founded only 5 years earlier. The increasing demand from the Blended Industry prompted the expansion and Balvenie was built in only 15 months. The short construction time can be explained by the conversion of an existing building (the Mansion Balvenie New House) rather than erect a new one. They also managed to find two second-hand stills from the distilleries Lagavulin (Islay) and Glen Albyn (a dismantled distillery at Inverness).
Between 1957 and 1971 the number of stills was increased from two to seven. In the early 1970s Balvenie finally abandoned their almost complete focus on blended whisky and entered the market for single malts. They met with immediate success and today several official bottlings are available –all equally appreciated for their full-bodied sweet character.
Members of the ‘Balvenie Club’ received an unusual offer at the end of 2004 when the distillery released one hundred 10cl Cask Sample Bottles personally selected by their Malt Master David Stewart. Balvenie intend to continue the practice and will release another 100 sample bottles when the first batch is sold out.
During 2005 Balvenie plan to open up their distillery to visitors. The guided tour will include a visit to the malting floor and to Balvenie’s own cooperate.
Production at Balvenie
Balvenie use the same water source as Glenfiddich, the Robbie Dubh Spring. They still malt some of their barley in their traditional floor maltings. The barley is steeped for two days before it is spread out onto the malting floor. The germination is allowed to continue for five to seven days during which the barley has to be turned three times a day. The malt is then brought into the kiln where it is dried with heat from burning coal and peat.
The mash tun is modern and holds about 10 tons. The ten washbacks are made from Douglas fir. Balvenie have nine copper stills; four wash stills and five spirit stills. The stills hols between 7 000 litres and 13 000 litres and are all heated by internal steam coils. A run of a wash still takes six hours and a run of a spirit still takes 11 hours. An interesting fact about Balvenie is that one of their stills has an unusually thick bottom which has lasted for 35 years as opposed to the usual 15 years. After distillation, the raw spirit is cut down to 63.5 percent alcohol by volume before it is filled into mostly bourbon and sherry casks. The casks are stored on site in solid stone warehouses. Bottling is done at Glenfiddich.
Phone: +44 (0) 1340 820 373, alternatively + 44 (0) 208 332 1188
Distillery Manager: Ian Millar
Visitors: Visitors are currently accepted after advance booking only; however those who make the effort will enjoy an excellent and extensive tour. Regular open tours which require no advance booking will be introduced during 2005.
Owner: William Grant & Sons Ltd