The Glentauchers distillery was founded during the height of the 'Pattison Crisis' at the end of
the 19th century - an earlier ‘whisky boom’ that ended in the closure of many malt whisky distilleries..
Unlike many other distilleries that were founded around the time, they have managed to survive
until this day. Nevertheless, the 'brand' is fairly obscure; Glentauchers has always been used
mostly for blending and even in the these days most of this malt whisky ends up in blends.
Glentauchers was built in 1989 by James Buchanan (creator of the famous 'Black & White'
and 'Buchanan' blends) and whisky trader W. P Lowrie from Glasgow. Within a few years W. P.
Lowrie was confronted with financial problems, which eventually allowed James Buchanan to
gain control of the entire operation.
Construction at Glentauchers started on May 29th 1897 at Tauchers Farm.
The founders chose this location because of the accessible road in front of
the new distillery and a nearby rail road network.
The construction of a railway siding at the back of the distillery building enabled fast, cheap
transportation of goods and supplies. These days the railway siding is no longer used, but I
can imagine a situation where the costs of rail road transport becomes competitive again.
After all, as oil and gasoline prices grow, the rising costs of transportation will ultimately
be reflected in higher prices for the whisky consumers. What's more, transportation via
railroad is environmentally friendlier...
Glentauchers was extensively remodelled in the 1920's.
After the original turbine was replaced with a steam engine, electricity was finally
installed in 1958. The distillery was rebuilt in 1965. At the same time the number of
stills was expanded from two to six, and four years later the traditional floor maltings
at Glentauchers were closed. The distillery was mothballed in the 1985 by DCL before
it was acquired and reopened by the company Caledonian Malt Whisky Distillers
(a subsidiary of Allied Distillers) at the end of the decade. The production of malt
whisky at Glentauchers resumed in 1992.
In 2005 Pernod Ricard / Chivas Brothers acquired the distillery.
Glentauchers is still rarely seen as a single malt, which means that the majority
of the malt whisky produced at the distillery is still used for blended whiskies.
The Glentauchers distillery was designed by John Alcock, a local architect from Keith.
Most of the work was carried out under the supervision Charles Doig & Son of Elgin,
the famous architect firm that was involved with the construction of dozens of other
distilleries in Scotland. All in all, it took circa twelve months to build and fully install the
Glentauchers distillery. The malting of the first barley began in May 1898 and the first
mashing took place in June. With the distillery finished within a year, everything looked
promising - but then the Pattison Whisky Crisis occurred. Many distilleries suffered
when the bubble burst, but Glentauchers escaped relatively unscathed.
That doesn't mean that Glentauchers can't ever be found as a single malt whisky.
In the 1990's and the third millennium independent bottler Gordon & MacPhail
has managed to release a fairly steady stream of semi-official bottlings.
The distillery is quite interesting from a technical point of view.
Before World War I, Glentauchers experimented with continuous production of
malt whisky with the same ingredients in another type of still. At some point they
left this path again and focused on the 'regular' production of malt whisky.
A few other distilleries in Scotland were involved with similar experiments in the
past, but these days there's a clear distinction between malt whisky (produced in
pot stills) and grain whisky (made in column stills). The only exception to the rule
is the Loch Lomond distillery which makes a wide variety of whiskies.
Glentauchers is located on the road to Craigellachie distillery,
on the edge of the Craigellachie Forest and some four miles
from the town of Keith. The process water for the distillery is
drawn from the Rosarie Burn (via a large reservoir).
Despite the impressive production capacity, Glentauchers does
not offer a guided tour. Fortunately, the majority of the distilleries
in the central Speyside district are nearby - a tad to the east.
Many of them DO offer distillery tours, so there are many alternatives to choose from within a few miles.
2) The Buchanan's blended whisky is said to contain almost 50 percent malt
whisky, most of it from the Dalwhinnie distillery.
1) Glentauchers was an important distillery in the 'stable' of James Buchanan & Co.
This company was an important part of Distillers Company Limited (DCL) when
it was founded in 1925. The distillery was then passed on to DCL subsidiary SMD
(Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd.). DCL was later acquired by Guinness, forming United
Distillers, which later became part of Diageo. These days, Glentauchers is owned
by Pernod Ricard through their subsidiary Chivas Brothers.
5) Glentauchers is one of almost two dozen malt whisky distilleries that were
founded over a century ago during the 'whisky boom' that occurred in the
late 19th century - and which have managed to survive until this day.
The other survivors include Aberfeldy, Ardmore, Aultmore, Balvenie,
Benriach, Benromach, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Dalwhinnie,
Dufftown, Glendullan, Glenfiddich, Glenrothes, Knockandu, Knockdhu,
Longmorn, Tamdhu and Tomatin.
4) The Glentauchers malt whisky is also said to be a key component of the Ballantine's and Teacher's blends.
7) Two other distilleries that experimented with the production of a silent malt (malt whisky from column stills)
were Convalmore (also in Speyside) and the Lochruan distillery in Campbeltown that closed down in the 1920's.
3) Buchanan's very first brand was ‘Buchanan Blend’ - a whisky that became
eventually known as Black & White - a brand that is still around today.
6) The Glentauchers malt whisky distillery is used as a training distillery for the Allied / Chivas group.
Meanwhile, the recently revived Glen Keith distillery was used as a laboratory for the Chivas group.
2000 - During the 1990's the only semi-official
bottlings of Glentauchers were released by
Gordon & MacPhail. In 2000 the owners at the
time (Allied) released their own 15 years old
official bottling of Glentauchers.
2006 - Two brand new spirit receivers are
added to the distillery equipment of Glentauchers.
All three pairs of stills used to share the same
low winers and spirit receiver; now every pair of
stills has their own spirit receiver.
2007 - A stainless steel full lauter mash tun
with a total capacity of 12 tonnes is installed.
2014 - A 17yo semi-official bottling is released
in the Ballantine’s ‘Signature Distillery Edition’
series. It’s only available in Asian markets.
2005 - Pernod Ricard become the new owners
of the Glentauchers distillery (through their
subsidiary Chivas Brothers).
Glentauchers 10yo 2000/2011 (46%, Aberdeen Distillers / Blackadder, C#ABD1010, 360 Bts.)
Nose: Starts off floral, but moves in a farmier and veggier direction after a few seconds. Hint of lime?
Opens up after some breathing, but doesn't really develop in a particular direction. A lot happening though.
Taste: Oy... Pine and menthol - and that's not something I'm particularly fond of in my whiskies...
Young, sappy tannins. A mouth feel that reminded me of absinth. An altogether 'green' whisky.
Score: 75 points - certainly not boring, but like many modern young malts the finish is too dry for me.
Glentauchers 16yo 1990/2007 (46%, Duncan Taylor NC2)
Nose: Starts off fairly sharp and prickly. Hint of aceton? A very 'clean' malt.
Some vanilla sweetness and spices emerge , but it remains very subdued.
Taste: Very little sweetness and it drops off in the centre. Weak, woody finish.
The finish lacks the sweetness you usually get from a (fresh) sherry cask.
Score: 74 points - another one for the 'bourbon wood' crowd.
Glentauchers 14yo 1990/2005 (58.5%, Adelphi, Cask #14429)
Nose: very subtle at first. It gained some momentum over time but never really reached my heart.
Maybe that's partly because I needed to focus on deciphering the extremely fine print on the Adelphi labels.
Granted, the bottles are very attractive - but the designer seems to be more interested in a pretty label.
Taste: Meanwhile, it performed fairly well on the palate; sweet and hot with a hint of pine.
This finally brings the score into 'average' territory with a score of 70 points.
Score: 70 points - a nice whisky that lacks some personality.
Glentauchers 14yo 1990/2004 (46%, G&M 'Reserve', Cask #14516)
Nose: It's quite solid and malty in the nose with a little more substance than most 'old school' CC bottlings.
Malty with faint hints of smoke and lemon.
Taste: Quite solid and malty on the palate as well. Maybe still just a tad 'MOTR'.
At 46% it feels much bigger that the average CC at 40%. Quite dry in the finish with a touch of bitterness.
Score: 82 points - although I couldn't find anything that really stands out this time.
Glentauchers 13yo 1990 (59.2%, James MacArthur)
Nose: Sorrel? Lots of farmy notes in the start, growing nuttier and sweeter. Surprisingly complex.
Hint of 'bad breath' and some metallic overtones. Spices too. 'Menthos' sweets. Very interesting.
It keeps developing too, even before I added water. In fact, I think water didn't improve the whisky
Taste: Phew.... Quite harsh - even considering it's bottled at almost 60% ABV. No sweetness whatsoever.
That's too bad. I would have expected much more finesse after the beautiful nose. Aspirin bitter finish.
Sometimes it's a trade-off, and in this case it's a whisky best for nosing, not so much for drinking.
Score: 74 points - but in this case the taste pulled it decisively from the upper 80's.
The nose is exquisite, but the finish is too bitter to score above average.
Glentauchers 12yo 1990 (46%, Whisky Galore)
Nose: A very distinctive buttermilk aroma, but not much else. Gooseberries? Some spices.
Very hard to describe. Developing organics. Almost 'sweaty'. Entertaining development.
Taste: Smooth start, quickly followed by a pleasant malty centre. Hint of chloride?
Some menthol & something 'veggy'. Loses a few points on the palate.
Score: 79 points - pretty decent; it seems Duncan Taylor owns quite a few casks from 1990...
Glentauchers-Glenlivet 24yo 1977/2001 (57.5%, Cadenhead's, Bourbon Hogshead, 276 Bottles)
Nose: Polished, but a little middle-of-the-road. Rum. Opens up very nicely, though.
First more spices and organics emerge, followed by more fruits and flowers. Nice!
Taste: Very pleasant. Not very outspoken, but it has a charming liquorice side to it.
Score: 84 points - This is almost getting boring: it's the best Glentauchers I 'ever' had.
Glentauchers 1979/1998 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, bottled 1998)
Nose: Quite soft. Citrussy. Chemical fruity sweetness.
A little nutty. Hint of peat in the background. Disinfectant?
Taste: Fairly simple and a little bland. Sweet and malty. Dry burn.
The finish is more interesting and lasts for quite a while. Good mouth feel.
Conclusion: 76 points - not very impressive for a malt this old; it lacks complexity.
My own tasting notes for some expressions of Glentauchers malt whisky are collected on this distillery profile.
Those were not all (official & independent) bottlings of Glentauchers I've tried over the years, but the notes should
convey how I felt about those whiskies. However, these tasting notes only reflect my purely personal opinion.
Your tastes might be different from mine - so it would be prudent to check out some other opinions as well.
Serge Valentin’s Whiskyfun website offers tasting notes on thousands of whisky bottlings, including Glentauchers.
The Malt Maniacs Monitor provides opinions of several other aficionados on over 15,000 different whiskies.
But perhaps you'd like to read a little bit more about whisky in general or single malt Scotch whisky in particular?
In that case, you might want to check out the Beginner's Guide to Scotch whisky - 10 chapters filled with (almost)
everything you need to know in order to fully enjoy and appreciate a glass of single malt whisky. Or, if you’d like
to dig a little deeper, the Whisky Lexicon offers more detailed information on a bunch of whisky-related topics.