Alexander McLennan passed away in 1870, after which his widow took over the
distillery. In 1877 the ownership of Glen Ord returned to the Mackenzie clan when
Alexander McLellan's widow remarried. Her new husband Alexander McKenzie took
out a 19 year lease of Glen Ord and constructed a new still house. Unfortunately, it
was destroyed in a fire shortly afterwards. Alexander McKenzie died in 1896, just
when the lease of the distillery ended. Glen Ord was sold to James Watson & Co.
(a blending company from Dundee) for £15,800.
In 1923 James Watson's son died without heirs, after which Glen Ord distillery was purchased by John Dewar & Sons who became part of Distillers Company Limited (DCL) in 1925. Five years later, in 1930, Glen Ord was transferred to Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd. (SMD). This marked the beginning of a few relatively quiet decades.
That's much more than the Glen Ord distillery needs; the maltings produce the
malted barley for a few other of Diageo's distilleries as well. While the maltings
operation was expanded, the actual distillation was as well. In 1966 the distillery
was renovated, while the number of stills was expanded from two to six.
Glen Ord (Pronounced: glen ORD)
57°31'24.5856 N, 4°28'35.1984 W
Dalmore, Teaninich, Glen Albyn, Glen Mhor
Nan Eun & Nan Bonnach (Lochs)
3 Wash stills, 3 Spirit stills
5,000,000 litres of pure alcohol per year
Diageo > UDV (since 1930)
Muir of Ord, Ross-shire, IV6 7UJ, Scotland
Yes - opened in 1988
Yes - lately under the name 'Singleton'.
Below, on WhiskyFun and on the Malt Maniacs Monitor
Scores & tasting notes:
In 1985 Glen Ord was acquired by United Malt & Grain Distillers
(United Distillers), which officially became part of the large Diageo
corporation a little over a decade later. They continued to produce
the dependable Glen Ord single malt in the round bottle (shown at
the left) for a few more years before they introduced its successor
in the square bottle (depicted at the right) a few years later. Both
bottlings offered pretty good value; affordable single malt whiskies
scoring around 80 points on my personal enjoyment scale.
In 1961 the floor maltings were replaced by a
Saladin box, which was supplemented with
drum maltings in 1968. Both maltings were
used together for more than a decade, but in
1983 they stopped using the Saladin box.
These days the drum maltings at Glen Ord
produce some 36,000 tonnes per year.
In recent years that comfortable situation has changed considerably.
While the name 'Singleton' had been reserved for the product of the Auchroisk whisky distillery (also owned by Diageo) during the 1980's and 1990's, around the year 2007 three brand new 'Singleton' single malt whiskies were introduced in different parts of the world. Oddly enough, these singletons were produced at three different malt whisky distilleries; Glendullan, Dufftown and Glen Ord. The malts from these distilleries are marketed under the same name in three different parts of the world - which seems like a departure from the 'Classic Malts' ideology.
This means that whisky lovers on different continents can enjoy three different 'Singleton' malts;
USA - Glendullan 12yo - I haven't seen the 8yo OB from the 1990's for ages in Europe.
Europe & Africa - Dufftown 12yo - The 10yo OB from the 1990's has vanished from the shelves.
Asia - Glen Ord 12yo - The old 12yo 'cube' OB was still available in Europe in 2008.
2004 - The 12yo official bottling of Glen Ord malt whisky used come in a round bottle (pictured above, to the left).
In 2004 it was replaced by a square bottle (as depicted above, to the right). At the same time, a 25 years old official bottling of the Glen Ord single malt whisky is launched.
2007 - The 'Singleton' range is introduced; three different single malts for three different markets. Customers in Asia get the Glen Ord while whisky drinkers in the USA can enjoy a Glendullan malt whisky. Here in Europe (and apparently also in Africa) a bottle of the 'Singleton' whisky is supposed to contain malt whisky distilled at the Dufftown distillery.
2011 - two more Oregon pine washbacks have been added to Glen Ord's equipment.
2012 - In October Diageo submits plans to greatly expand Glen Ord's production capacity. The number of stills will be doubled from 6 to 12 and the same goes for the number of washbacks (adding 10 to the existing 10).
The Glen Ord distillery
was founded in 1838 by Thomas Mackenzie in
the 'Black Isle' area north of Inverness. The distillery takes its name
from 'The Ord', a plain 15 miles north of Inverness. Many castles of the
clan Mackenzie can be found in the area, including Kintail, Brahan and
Eilean Donan. The clan has Celtic origins (as opposed to Norman) and
possibly came to Scotland from Ireland somewhere in the 12th century.
Immediately after construction Thomas Mackenzie licensed the distillery
to the Ord Distillery Co., owned by D. McLennan and Robert Johnstone.
Soon Robert became the sole owner - but he went bankrupt in 1847.
Glen Ord distillery was put up for sale, but it wasn't until 1855 that it
was purchased by Alexander McLennan and Thomas McGregor.
1) It's virtually impossible to find independent bottlings from Glen Ord. In 2009 the MMMonitor showed circa half a dozen bottlings from Cadenhead's (mostly from the 1980's & 1990's) and a similar number from Douglas Laing.
2) In 1882 Alexander Mackenzie registred the name 'Glenoran' for the whisky distilled at Glen Ord distillery.
In the early 1980's, the Glen Ord whisky was still known as 'Glen Oran', during the late 1980's as 'Glen Ordie'.
3) Given the importance of the Mackenzie clan in the history of Glen Ord, it might be fun to have a few drams of their whisky while listening to the song 'The McKenzie Brothers' from the American pop-rock band Rednex.
The more glasses of Glen Ord you drink, the funnier it gets...
4) Before the introduction of the 'Singleton of Glen Ord', circa 20% of all of the whisky that was produced at Glen Ord distillery was sold as a single malt. The rest was used in blended whiskies like Johnnie Walker and Dewar's.
5) Between July 2010 and January 2011 the entire Glen Ord distillery was closed for a reconstruction.
Singleton of Glen Ord 12yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2010, 70cl)
Nose: Malty with flowery notes in the background. Cinnamon and other spices as well. Sappy wood.
Taste: Smooth, sweet and malty. Round and very easily drinkable. Not really expressive though...
Score: 77 points - this whisky really takes some time to open up sufficiently.
Glen Ord 12yo 1998/2010 (59%, Signatory Vintage CS Collection, Hogshead, C#3478, 270 Bts.)
Nose: A surprising hit of heavy organics. Some tar and creosote. Meaty notes as well; charred steak.
Taste: Smooth, round, big. Sweetish start, slowly evolving into a smoky centre. Barbecue meat. Liquorice.
Score: 85 points - one of the most amazing expressions of Glen Ord I ever tried; almost like an Islay whisky.
Singleton of Glen Ord 12yo (40%, OB, for duty free 1L, Bottled +/- 2009)
Nose: Malty. Shoe polish. Spices. Sweetish. Some polished oak. Starts off fairly open but closes up quickly.
Not really my kind of profile, but at least it's not dull... It's quite different from previous batches though.
Taste: Smooth start; sweet for a second and then growing more herbal. Dry, flat finish that turns quite hot.
No sweetness. Dampo menthol salve? Hot and cool menthol and camphor sensations at the end of the finish.
Score: 74 points - it seems notably less sweet on the palate to me than earlier batches of this 'Singleton'...
Singleton of Glen Ord 12yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2008)
Nose: Ooooh. Spices, faint organics and some shoe polish. Fairly subtle, though.
My kind of whisky - but the nose falls apart after just a few minutes. Something like diesel in the background.
Taste: Fits the nose quite well; although it feels thinner than I imagined. Solid tannins in the finish.
Is that a very soft touch of peat in the background? Some sweet liquorice as well after a few minutes.
Score: 79 points - this seems like a worthy successor to the regular Glen Ord 12yo in the square bottle.
Glen Ord 18yo 1989/2007 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, Refill butt, Ref 3336, Sherry finish, 808 Bts.)
Nose: Yoghurt. Nectarines. Banana's. This one really is a fruit bomb. Some dust as well. Enjoyable!
Taste: Strong fruits on the palate as well. Long finish with just the right amount of tannins - but fairly harsh.
Score: 84 points - this one earned an extra point when I found a hint of smoke on the palate.
Glen Ord 40yo (40.1%, Royal Mile Whiskies, 300 bottles, Bottled +/- 2005)
Nose: This is unique. Light and fruity with hints of glue and grain. Reminds me of the 'Greenore' Irish.
It does improve considerably after some breathing - a solid but slightly MOTR malt whisky.
Taste: Not an overall success, I'm afraid. Gritty in the start, undecided in the centre, sweet in the finish.
Malty & chewy on the palate. Liquorice. That being said, there's a disturbing hint of pine there as well.
Score: 84 points - this whisky is not my cup of tea initially, but it grew on me over time.
Glen Ord 15yo 1989/2004 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 604 bottles)
Nose: Sweet, mellow and just a tad watery. More spices emerge over time. Beer? Notable improvement!
Taste: Quite soft and smooth in the start, even at 50%. A big bitter bite in the finish. Too bad.
Score: 79 points - Based on the nose it would make it to the lower 80's - but not on the palate.
Glen Ord 25yo 1978/2004 (58.3%, OB)
Nose: Sweet with hints of antiquity in the background. Very subtle farmy and metallic aroma's at the back.
Very enjoyable, but not terribly complex. Some more fruits emerged after I added a few drops of water.
Taste: Surprisingly harsh; the nose suggests a 'smoother' mouth feel. Oh wait - it's almost 60% ABV...
Sweetness emerges over time, along with touches of peat & smoke. Hint of liquorice in the chewy tannins.
With a splash of water the mouth feel became just a tad grittier - and the peat & smoke came forward.
Score: 86 points - experiences with the 23yo UDRM bottling from 1998 suggest it improves with breathing.
Glen Ord 20yo 1983/2003 (59%, Signatory, Cask #378, 458 bottles)
Nose: Ah! Lovely - an altogether different class of malt. Woody and polished. A gentlemen's club...
Taste: Woody on the palate as well - maybe a tad too much so? Smoke and tannins. Again, it's the palate...
Score: 81 points - in the end it's just on 'the edge', but I'd recommend it... Well, in the subtlest manner.
Glen Ord 23yo 1974/1998 (60.8%, UD Rare Malts)
Nose: The nose started out very alcoholic with lots of paint thinner. Fortunately, it settles down quickly.
The alcoholic feints develop into complex spices and organics, after which I got some nice sweet liquorice notes.
Reminds me of liquorice all sorts. It softens up further with some water, becoming creamier.
Taste: The taste was quite sweet with a lovely mouth feel. Toffee with a hint of smoke. This is a keeper...
It's definitely one of those malts that improve after oxidation. Pretty great stuff - but there are better UDRM's.
Score: 85 points - but I should point out that the first few drams from the bottle scored much lower.
So, make sure to let this one breathe for as long as possible.
Glen Ord 10yo 1985/1995 (56.9%, Cadenhead)
Nose: Sweet with a little more citrus than the OMC. Altogether 'fresher' - but mellowing out with time.
Taste: Chewing gum. Drops off quite a bit towards the dry, hot, flat finish. Hints of herbalness? Phew...
Score: 76 points - I know I probably should have given it more than 15 minutes, though...
These were not all (official & independent) bottlings of Glen Ord 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 Ord page on the MMMonitor and select 'scorecard view' if you want to know how other whisky lovers felt about the hundreds of Glen Ord 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.)
Is the distillery or