Take a trip from 1400s Scotland to 1960s New York to learn the interesting history of Scottish single malt whisky
Whisky has been a part of the culture of Scotland for centuries, with the oldest known example of it appearing in government records dating to 1494. While early whiskies were likely to be quite rough and potent, advances in distillation and maturing methods and technologies saw the spirit gradually coming to resemble whisky as we know it today.
One of these advances was the move from pot stills used to create malted whisky to continuous column stills that could create grain whisky. This method was much more economical, allowing distillers to begin generating blends of grain and malt whisky. This new variety of whisky soon began being exported outside Scotland.
William Grant Gordon (pictured below) founds his own distillery, with the support of his nine children, calling it “Glenfiddich” – Gaelic for “valley of the deer. Glenfiddich has remained one of Scotland's few family run whisky distilleries since then.
In 1963, William's great grandson Sandy Grant Gordon (pictured below), took a trip to New York, on a mission to change the way Americans drank whisky. Single malts may have been popular in Scotland, but outside people were used to drinking blended whiskies. Gordon wanted to change that, and packed a case of Glenfiddich single malt whisky (archive bottle image below), with the aim of converting American palates. The industry was sceptical but the public loved it, and for 54 years Glenfiddich has remained the world’s most popular single malt whisky.
WHAT IS SINGLE MALT: Unlike blended whiskies which can contain a mix of malt and grain whiskies often from different sources, Scottish single malts must only be made from distilled malted barley that comes from a single distillery, and be aged in oak for at least three years.
TASTE CHARACTERISTICS: Varying hugely in flavour depending on the location of the distillery and its water characteristics, duration of aging and types of casks it is aged in, single malt whisky can have flavours that are light, floral, earthy, smoky or spicy.
GLENFIDDICH SINGLE MALT 12 YO
This pioneering single malt is aged for 12 years, and has rich and sweet flavours of ripe fruits, butterscotch, cream, malt and oak.
GLENFIDDICH SINGLE MALT 15 YO
This unique single malt is aged for 15 years in sherry, bourbon and new oak casks, giving the whisky an intense honey character, with smooth flavours of marzipan, cinnamon, ginger and sherry oak.
GLENFIDDICH SINGLE MALT 18 YO
Matured in Oloroso sherry and bourbon casks for 18 years, this whisky is deliciously mellow, with rich oak and luxurious dried fruit characteristics of candied peel and date.