Beam Suntory is making a £6 million investment in a Scottish distillery.
Glen Garioch’s renowned distillery in Oldmeldrum, near Aberdeen, will return to more traditional production processes, while also introducing new cutting-edge technology for direct-fired distillation.
The planned changes will also reduce the distillery’s carbon footprint. Work began in 2020, and various stages are expected to be completed over the course of 2021.
The cornerstone of this transformation will be the reintroduction of floor maltings as well as the installation of direct-fired heating to the wash still – traditional methods still used by only a handful of whisky distilleries. The return to these traditional processes is a sign of Glen Garioch’s deep respect for its rich heritage, as well as the complexity and quality of its small batch, hand-crafted Highland single malt.
To complement this return to tradition, Glen Garioch has developed a state-of-the-art, highly efficient and safe method for direct fired distillation, which Beam Suntory anticipates will reduce the distillery’s carbon footprint by around 15%.
The first new make spirit will come off the stills later in 2021.
Kwanele Mdluli, distillery manager, said: ‘We are proud to make this investment in Glen Garioch’s historic distillery, and we’re excited about the future.
‘Although these traditional distilling and malting methods are rare in today’s industry, our teams have deep expertise and passion for these methods, and we’re all looking forward to bringing them back to our distillery. We are honoured to be a part of Glen Garioch’s long tradition of innovation and quality craftsmanship.’
Francois Bazini, Beam Suntory’s managing director – Scotch, Gin and Irish, added: ‘Coming from one of Scotland’s oldest distilleries, Glen Garioch is a rare find – a complex, hearty Highland malt, produced only in small batches.
‘Our whisky has always been made with extraordinary care, and by reinvigorating its distillery and tapping into the brand’s rich history, we’ll be able to build on the quality and complexity that Glen Garioch is already known for. Although we’re looking to the past for inspiration – we’re opening the next chapter in Glen Garioch’s future.’
As a result of these changes to the distillery, Glen Garioch has already doubled its highly skilled distillery operations team (from seven to 12) and additional hires are planned in 2021.
In returning to these traditional distilling and malting methods, Glen Garioch will undertake significant upskilling of the site team, as well as relying on the skills and experience of site staff who used these processes previously at Glen Garioch, including industry stalwarts such as Kenny ‘Digger’ Grant, as well as the expertise of the sister distilleries on Islay, who also employ traditional floor maltings.
Beam Suntory employs more than 360 people in Scotland, the large majority of whom are involved in the production of its renowned Scotch whiskies, including Glen Garioch, Ardmore, Auchentoshan, Laphroaig, Bowmore and Teacher’s.
One of the oldest operating distilleries in Scotland, Glen Garioch has been making its single malt Scotch whisky in the historic market town of Oldmeldrum since 1797.