Glenlivet Speyside WhiskyAfter the 1823 Excise Act, George Smith became the first distiller in the Highlands to obtain a license for distillation and, in 1824, he established The Glenlivet on what was once a farm distillery called Upper Drummin. Many of the neighbouring distilleries were illegally run and involved in smuggling. They became indignant, for George Smith was running Glenlivet by legal means. Such was the tempest of their fury, George had to carry a pair of pistols for protection.
Originally 'Gow', the family name became the more Anglo-sounding 'Smith' following Bonnie Prince Charlie’s 1746 defeat at the battle of Culloden. The Gows changed their name to escape the resultant subjugation which ensued. The Glenlivet has always been a name associated with quality, to such a degree that other distilleries would use the name, no matter how distant they were from the Livet glen. To help preserve his brand, George Smith’s son, John Gordon Smith, applied for sole rights to the name, which were granted in 1884. The name still crops up elsewhere. However, by law, other brands must hyphenate it with their own names and cannot use it solely.
Glenlivet was bought by Seagram in 1978, alongside a selection of other Scotch whisky distilleries. In 2001, Pernod Ricard and Diageo bought Seagram and dividing the assets between them, with Pernod Ricard taking the Scotch division (including Glenlivet) and renaming it Chivas Brothers.
Under this new ownership, as part of a £10 million investment, an extension with an additional mash tun, eight washbacks and 6 stills was opened by the Prince of Wales on 5 June 2010, with the capacity of the distillery increased by 75%, to 10.5 million litres per year.
In the spring of 2018, the distillery released The Glenlivet Code, inspired by famous British codebreakers in a bid to test consumers’ knowledge of single malt whisky, accompanied by an interactive digital experience. In summer the same year, a new extension of the distillery was commissioned bringing the total capacity to 21 million litres of alcohol.