1) The famous and picturesque Strathisla distillery is located just a few hundred yards from Glen Keith distillery.
2) Glen Keith was the first distillery to experiment with automatic mashing in the 1980's.
3) The Saladin boxes at Glen Keith were closed in 1976 - although they could still be used.
4) Glen Keith is located on the bank of the small river Isla, at the back of Strathisla. The location next to a river was chosen because the distillery used to be a meal mill. The last owners were the Angus Milling Company.
5) After the conversion from meal-mill to distillery, Seagram's built large racked warehouses by the side as a storage area for Glen Keith and the other malt whiskies of the Chivas group.
Glen Keith 1967/2006 (53%, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve for LMdW Paris, 215 Bts.)
Aaaah… Sweet & smooth & polished. A brilliant dram but at first there didn't seem to be too much development.
Lovely fruits on the palate. Really magnificent, so it lands in the 90's right there and then.
Brilliant fruity tannins in the finish. During a second sampling it climbed to 91 points.
Score: 91 points - this old whisky made quite an impression at the Malt Maniacs Awards 2006.
Glen Keith 33yo 1971/2005 (51.9%, Jack Wieber's Old Train Line)
Nose: Dark and sweet. Polished, maybe just a tad too much? Resin? Inconsistent. Rancid butter.
Taste: Strangely watery start, with a thick, burning centre. Smoke? A little odd, losing points.
Score: 82 points - I'd recommend it, but not TOO enthusiastically. Another weird JWWW palate.
Craigduff 32yo 1973/2005 (49.4%, Signatory, Sherry cask #2513, 566 Bottles, Glen Keith)
Nose: Sweet. Hint of mocca? Then some peat (?) covered in early fruits. A tad too subtle for me. Laddie?
It seemed far less subtle in the nose after some breathing. Warm milk and mocca. Faintest hint of peat.
Taste: Quite watery in the start. Then sweet liquorice. Something sour. Dry with playful tannins in the finish.
Now I got mocca on the palate too. Toffee. Malty and fruity too, with a hint of peat smoke. A tad dry in the finish.
Score: 87 points - maybe a tad subtle, but overall quite enjoyable. I'm simply a sucker for tannins I guess.
Glen Keith 10yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/-1998)
Nose: Quite grainy. Oily. Sweetish with something citrussy. Ginger? Woody; raw pine rather than polished oak.
Taste: Fairly weak. Sweet and toffeeish at first. Malty. Some fruits. Flat centre. Needs a higher proof?
Score: 70 points - this one didn't impress me as much as its '1983' predecessor from Glen Keith.
Glen Keith-Glenlivet 22yo 1973/1995 (57.1%, Cadenhead's, Distilled 04/1973, Bottled 10/1995)
Nose: Deep & complex. Organics, Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte. Sweetens out. Tea leaves? Smoke? Spicy punch.
Taste: Surprisingly light fruitiness. Honeyish. Drinkable at C/S. Breaks up with some water but bounces back.
Score: 79 points - almost recommendable.
Glen Keith 1983 (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 1994, 70cl)
Nose: Restrained; slightly sweet & oily at first. After some breathing: wood, ginger and whiffs of citrus.
Taste: Very nice. Simple, sweet start grows more malty after a while. Ends in a dry and bitter finish.
Score: 74 points - not bad, but below average (and about ten points below many malts in the same price range).
These were not all (official & independent) bottlings of Glen Keith Scotch whisky I've tried over the years.
Besides, these tasting notes only reflect my own, personal opinion; your tastes might be different from mine.
Fortunately, you can find the scores and tasting notes from up to two dozen other whisky lovers in the 'Malt Maniacs Monitor' - an independent whisky database with details on more than 15,000 different whiskies from Scotland and the rest of the world. Visit the Glen Keith page on the MMMonitor and select 'scorecard view' if you want to know how other whisky lovers felt about the hundreds of Glen Keith expressions that were released in recent years. However, if you'd like to learn more about whisky in general (and single malt Scotch whisky in particular), you might want to check out the Beginner's Guide to Scotch whisky (10 chapters filled with everything you need to fully enjoy and appreciate a glass of single malt whisky) or the mAlmanac (sort of a rudimentary whisky shopping guide.)
Glen Keith (Pronounced: just like you write it)
57°32'46.9752 N, 2°57'26.2512 W
Aultmore, Strathmill, Strathisla, Glentauchers
1959 (finished in 1960)
Re-opened in 2013 (It was mothballed in 1999)
Source on Balloch Hill
3 Wash stills, 3 Spirit stills
6,000,000 litres of alcohol per year
Pernod Ricard > Chivas Brothers (since 2001)
Station Road, Keith, Morayshire, AB55 3BU, Scotland
Below, on WhiskyFun and on the Malt Maniacs Monitor
Scores & tasting notes:
The Glen Keith distillery was built in 1957-1960 on the site of a corn
mill by Chivas Brothers, who also owned the nearby Strathisla distillery.
It was one of the first new malt distilleries to be built in Scotland since
the late-Victorian whisky boom. Glen Keith (a.k.a. Glenkeith) originally
had 3 stills because the distillery was designed for triple distillation.
This 'Lowland' set-up was very unusual for a Speyside distillery...
The number of stills was increased to five in 1970, when they switched
to double distillation. The new stills were a novelty; they were the first
gas-fired stills in Scotland. The Glen Keith distillery was mothballed in
1999 and sold to Pernod Ricard in 2001. Sadly, the new owners didn't
maintain the original distillery equipment in the decade that followed.
That made it look like Glen Keith distillery was now silent for good
- various pieces of distillery
equipment require regular maintenance and cleaning to remain in working order. The Glen Keith
distillery buildings themselves remained in tip-top shape though...
Glen Keith was a malt whisky
distillery, but Chivas Brothers
also used it as a laboratory for
experiments with 'innovations'
in production and processing.
When Chivas opened Glen Keith
distillery in 1959, its output was
destined for blending purposes.
The Glen Keith malt whisky was
used in Chivas Regal, Passport
and 100 pipers blended whisky.
As far as I know, the Glen Keith
1983 depicted at the left (which
was released in the early 1990's)
was the first real official bottling.
Glen Keith was actually revived again
in 2013, but I'll get back to that later.
Until 1978, the official distillery name was 'Glen Keith-Glenlivet'; the
'Glenlivet' part had to be dropped from the name for legal reasons.
The picture at the left (by Martine Nouet) shows four of the stills at Glen Keith distillery. Two of these stills were added in 1970; for 10 years the distillery switched between triple and double distillation. In the 1980's they switched to double distillation completely. In 1971 the stills at Glen Keith were the first gas-fired stills to be installed in Scotland. Three years later, steam coils were installed.
The Glen Keith 1983 single malt whisky
was replaced by a 10yo
bottling a few years later, but it would seem that Chivas stopped
releasing official bottlings a few years later. The last time I checked
the Malt Maniacs Monitor it contained only official bottlings from the
1990's. All the recent bottlings were from independent bottlers.
At times, a peated malt whisky
was produced at Glen Keith.
Martine Nouet asked Chivas' production manager Alan Winchester
about it and he told her that the peatiness of the spirit came from
the water and not from the malted barley as usual. The peat was
burnt, after which the peat smoke was passed through the water.
The dark, peaty water was then used in the production process.
This variety was sold under the names Glenisla and Craigduff.
Signatory Vintage has also bottled a peated version of Glen Keith
which was made in the traditional way, with peated malted barley.
Last but not least, I'd like to share some thoughts from Martine Nouet on
a topic that is often overlooked: the yeast that was used at Glen Keith;
"Another very interesting aspect of Glen Keith experiments was all what they
did about yeast. They produced their own strains, from the wort first, then
from the pot-ale. That yeast was used by the distilleries of the Chivas group,
especially Strathisla and Glen Grant. Nothing has ever been said about
those experiments which were conducted by a foremost authority on
yeast, Dr. Watson (who is still with Chivas company).
Now as most distilleries, Chivas use commercial strains from Quest and
Maury. But the strains have been pasteurized and are kept in the yeast
library. It would be interesting to learn more about the subject. Alan says
that the experiments were conducted to produce specific flavours. He
agrees to say that yeast is very important in the making of the aromatic
profile (I have always a deny on that question each time I have raised
it with distillers and I regret not to have the scientific understanding
of the subject. I only apprehend it from the aromatic aspect)."
NEWSFLASH: After being mothballed in 1999, the Glen Keith distillery
was 'officially' reopened in on June 14, 2013 - although some say that
malt whisky production had actually started again a little earlier in April.
Compared to the 'old' Glen Keith distillery, the production capacity has
almost doubled to 6,000,000 litres of pure alcohol per year.
According to Snorre Lenes (Norwegian Malt Whisky
Society), who visited the distillery in the summer of
2013: "Glen Keith is fully operational. Officially they
reopened 14 of june this year. But unofficial they
started up in the second week of April. Since then
they have produced over 500 000 liter of new make
spirit. They have also increased they production up
to 6 mill liters a year."
In order to produce these higher volumes, the
owners had to "... install 9 new wooden wash
backs, and 6 steel washbacks. Also they have
installed a brand new huge mashtun. Also they
have installed a brand new spirit still, so they have
6 stills now. The old building on the back side was
demolished and a brand new one is build on the
same place. Today that building host the 6 wash
backs of steel, mashtun and some other stuff."
Is the distillery or