The actual Glenury Royal distillery
An old mill near the demolished Glenury Royal distillery, Scotland

Glenury Royal (a.k.a. Glenury) was founded in 1825.
Founder Robert Barclay chose a location near Stonehaven,
South of Aberdeen to build his malt whisky distillery. That
makes it an eastern Highland distillery, just like its 'coastal'
neighbours Glenesk, Lochside and North Port.
 
Captain Robert Barclay was a Member of Parliament.
Perhaps that's why he was one of only three distillers
that managed to get permission by King William IV to
put the world "Royal" in front of the distillery name.
 
The Glenury Royal distillery takes its name from the glen
that runs through the Ury district. Incidentally, Captain
Robert Barclay was also Laird of the Ury district. In fact,
he was a multi-talented man. For example, he was the
first man (on record) to run 1000 miles in 1000 hours.
(I'm guessing he took breaks for eating and drinking.)

Glenury Royal distillery

Where to find Glenury Royal

Glenury Royal Scotch Whisky

Glenury Royal  (Pronounced: Glen-YOU-ree Royal)
Highlands (East)
5657'47.09"N, 214'23.38"W (Approximation)
Glenesk, Lochside, North Port, Fettercairn
1825
Closed (in 1985)
Unknown
2 Wash stills, 2 Spirit stills
Unknown
Diageo / United Distillers (until 1992)
Stonehaven, Kincardineshire, AB39 2PY, Scotland, UK
-
No
No
Yes (although they were few and far between)
Below, on WhiskyFun and on the Malt Maniacs Monitor

Glenury Royal location

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Glenury Royal 1970 Scotch whisky

Glenury Royal had a fairly unfortunate start. On April 20th 1825 (a few weeks after production started), a fire destroyed the kiln, the malting floors, parts of the grain loft and considerable stocks of barley. Just two weeks later fate struck again; local distillery worker James Clark fell into the boiler and didn't come out alive. This was sort of an occupational hazard for distillery staff at the time - James wasn't the first or the last distillery worker to suffer from a 'freak distillation accident'.

Production at Glenuray Royal distillery ceased during
the second world war, but in 1953 Distillers Company
Limited
(DCL, one of the predecessors of Diageo)
bought ASD and transferred the company to SMD
(Scottish Malt Distillers).
 
In 1965 (some say 1966) the distillery was completely
refurbished and the number of stills was doubled from
two to four. The maltings of Glenury Royal were closed
three years later, in 1968. The distillery kept producing
whisky for almost two more decades, but eventually
it was mothballed by DCL on May 31th, 1985. In 1992
the owners decided to cease the production of malt
whisky at Glenury Royal for good.

Robert Barclay himself passed away relatively peacefully in 1854 and the Glenury Royal distillery was put up for auction circa three years later. In 1857 or 1858 it was acquired by William Richie from Glasgow. Ownership of Glenury Royal remained in the Richie family until 1928 (when production ceased) and perhaps even 1936. Details on this sale are a tad vague because the seller wasn't a member of the Richie family, but Lord Stonehaven. The Richie family probably leased the Glenury Royal distillery from the lord at this point.
 
The buyer who bought the distillery was the Glenury Distillery Company which was under the control of one Joseph William Hobbs. Lord Stonehaven sold Glenury Royal distillery in 1936 to Hobbs' company for 7,500 GBP. Just two years later the distillery was sold on to another company from Hobbs; ASD (Associated Scottish Distillers). Interestingly enough, within just two years the price had more than doubled to 18,500. The significant difference in price wasn't warranted by a renovation of Glenury Royal or new distillery equipment, so it would seem that the dealings of Hobbs were on the shady side of the spectrum. Glenury Royal distillery changed hands again soon afterwards and was sold to American National Distillers in 1940.

Glenury Royal whisky

Glenury Royal distillery in the new millennium

2003 - Even though the Glenury Royal distillery was mothballed in 1985, a 50 years old official bottling was released by the formal owners of its inheritance, Diageo
 
2005 - A 36yo official bottling of Glenury Royal is released.
Oddly enough, this was more than a decade after the Glenury Royal distillery itself was demolished.
 
2007 - Another 36yo official bottling is released, this time from casks that were filled in 1970.
According to the Malt Maniacs Monitor, this was the last ever official bottling of Glenury Royal. 

The buildings of the malt whisky distillery were eventually turned into apartments.
The remains of Glenury Royal were sold in 1993 to a real estate company who turned part of these buildings into apartments. (Close to the ones depicted above...) The result of the sale is that Glenury Royal is definitively history.

Glenury Royal distillery profileInteractive whisky distillery mapScotland - whisky distillery informationScotch whisky bottlersScotch malt whisky brandsNew distillery projects

Trivia about Glenury Royal

1) Apart from being a politician, Captain Robert Barclay was also an athlete and marathon runner.
In 1809 he was also the first man to run 1000 miles within 1000 hours. For this achievement he was later included in the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame.

2) Official and semi-official releases from Glenury Royal include a 23yo 1971/1995 and 29yo 1970/1999 bottling in the UD Rare Malts series. In 2003 Diageo released a 50yo official bottling; only 498 bottles were produced. A limited release of a 36yo bottling (ABV 51,2%) was released in 2005 - the size of this batch was 2100 bottles. 

3) The nearby city of Aberdeen is known as Europe's oil capital - or the "Granite City".

4) Glenury Royal serves as a powerful illustration of the power of inflation - even in the whisky world.
In 1936 the distillery was sold for a fairly measly 7,500 but in 1938 it changed hands again for 18,500.

5) The Glenury Royal was one of many Scotch malt whisky distilleries to fall silent during World War II.
 

Glenury Royal single malt whisky

Glenury Royal 36yo 1973/2009 (46.2%, Blackadder Raw Cask, Cask #6863, 148 Bts.)
Nose: Not peaty, but quite medicinal. Leather. This opens up very nicely. Austere with a hint of antiquity.
Beautiful balance. Passion fruits. Speculaas spices. The 'volume' varies with time; its drifts in and out of focus.
Taste: Like the nose, it's not especially 'peaty', but quite smoky and medicinal. Sweetness too. Very surprising!
Score: 91 points - this bottling made me realise the Glenury Royal distillery should be in my top 10... 

Glenury Royal 30yo 1973/2003 (50.7%, Blackadder Raw Cask, Cask #6861)
Nose: Very fruity start. Faintest hint of something medicinal. Quite complex, but you have to work at it.
Taste: Smooth but a little nondescript at cask strength. Menthos? Again there seems to be a trace of peat.
Score: 88 points - here's another old malt that needs time. I initially had it around 83 but it grows bolder.

Glenury 30yo 1973/2003 (57.5%, Blackadder, Cask #6861)
Nose: Wonderful! Rich & sherried. Surprisingly fresh fruity notes grow dusty quickly. Sweet. Subtle wood.
Taste: Very drinkable at cask strength. Sweet and smooth. Liquorice. Quickly fading finish.
Score: 89 points - fabulous stuff; my first indication that this was an excellent disstillery.

Glenury Royal 26yo 1975/2002 (52.6%, Signatory, C#5240, bottle 91/192)
Nose: Classic. Malty. Hint of lime? Light and accessible, but it has substance. Hint of something grassy?
Taste: Malty with citrussy overtones as well. Gooseberries. Unique texture; smooth with something 'lumpy'.
Score: 80 points - not especially impressive for a malt whisky this old.

Glenury Royal 29yo 1970/1999 (57.0%, UD Rare Malts)
Nose: Subtle, fruity complexity. Doesn't really open up with a few drops of water; remains subtle.
Taste: Sweet & succulent. Big and round - but drinkable at cask strength. The faintest hint of perfume?
Did I say it's drinkable at cask strength? Well, I meant it's sippable. The tannins of a big gulp are STRONG!
Score: 86 points - perhaps not quite outspoken enough for my tastes, but it's very good malt whisky.

Glenury Royal 23yo 1971/1995 (61.3%, UD Rare Malts)
Nose: Not very expressive at first. Quite delicate with some faint organics. Developing spices. Perfume.
Taste: Full, big and spicy. This is my kind of profile. Just like the nose, it improves further over time.
Score: 88 points - oh boy, why did they close down this 'four star' distillery?

Glenury Royal 12yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail Licensed, John Gillon & Company, Btl. Early 1980's, 5cl)
Nose: Ah! Sweet & malty start. Subtle 'veggy' notes emerge, but they are very well integrated with the sweetness. Metallic. Not the sort of profile I instinctively like, but a surprising complexity.
Taste: Oy! Dusty. Weird start... Even a hint of something medicinal? Vaguely minty and metallic as well.
Score: 80 points - maybe just a tad oxidised? Still very interesting - almost enough to make it to 80 points.
In fact, after some 10 minutes in the glass it made the jump to 80. Yes, I would recommend this.

Glenury Royal 1966/1979 (46%, Cadenhead's 'Dumpy')
Nose: Starts sweet, but grows spicier quickly. Lemon drops. Rubber. Pilchards. The blue pearly liquorice all sorts.
Taste: Peaty, just like the 1964. Salty. Dry. Phenolic. Hot and dry in the finish. Slightly tannic. All in all: lovely.
Score: 88 points - chalk one more up for the veterans: a beautiful old / young malt whisky...

Glenury Royal 1964/1977 (80 Proof, Cadenhead's Dumpy - 12yo age statement?)
Nose: Sweet fruits. Not very expressive at first, but grows more austere. Metallic. Ink. Oatmeal. Dead fish?
Taste: A strong peaty foundation - a nice surprise! Excellent mouth feel, but falls apart a bit after ten minutes.
Score: 87 points - but Serge said it reminded him of old Clynelish and scored it higher. His right to be wrong ;-)
 

And there's more to tell about Glenury Royal...

These were not all (official & independent) bottlings of Glenury Royal 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 Glenury Royal page on the MMMonitor and select 'scorecard view' if you want to know how other whisky lovers felt about the dozens of Glenury Royal 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.) 
 

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