The History of Glenlivet (with Master Distiller Alan Winchester) – Spirit Guide Society

The History of Glenlivet (with Master Distiller Alan Winchester) – Spirit Guide Society


But we have to give it up because we’ve
got the master distiller Alan Winchester
in the house from The Glenlivet.
::APPLAUSE:: -Also…
-Thank you! Also, Alex Robertson who’s head of the heritage
and education program for The Glenlivet He’s in charge of, like,
all the brand ambassadors all of the world and the archives,
which are quite extensive when it comes to this brand,
which is one of the most storied brands in the history of single malt scotch.
The second biggest seller? Yes, we’ll trade places with Glenfiddich. You guys, you, like, slug it out, -Like, every couple of months
-Yeah, we slug it out -It’s like…
-That’s it. -But it’s a friendly battle!
-America has the best tastes. Oh really? -It’s the #1 single malt in America for
a long time. ::LAUGHTER:: We won’t talk politics because sometimes
we have really terrible taste ::LAUGHTER:: But this brand, you guys have been around,
one of the first licensed distilleries… You guys have been in business since 1824,
that’s when you had a license, but at that same site you’ve been distilling
there for… We’ve been distilling a lot longer than that, yes.
Obviously we were distilling illegally at… In the early days, Glenlivet is out of
moonshine and roots and it’s to do with the taxation of our area,
There’s older distilleries but it’s… the modern whisky industry
came from the 1823 distilling act. Our founder, George Smith went
and took a license out. He took a license out in an area, it was recorded to have 200 elicit stills, so he wasn’t very popular
with 199 of the rest. -Right, he was…
-But one the stories of it that is in 1822 King George IV came to Edinburgh.
For the first time, a ruling monarch had came to Scotland. You know the Scots, were a wee bit rebellious.
Wee bit like our Irish cousins. And the King came and he wanted
to get down, he wanted to get hip with his Scots. So what did he do? He asked for something totally illegal
but was considered high-quality whisky. He asked for the real Glenlivet.
It was totally illegal. And I’ve been using
the analogy it’s like… Our Queen asking for some illegal
substance just to be hip and cool. Right, she shows up in California
and asked to smoke a joint. Yeah, that’s right. You imagine
BBC with that story? But anyway, the landowners at
the time says “We need to reform the law,” and the encourage certain folks in
their estates, it was a The Duke of Gordon and George Smith took
out his license. And he determines the Speyside style
as we know today. And can you describe what that is traditionally?
Like, or is there a true tradition? I would like to, kind of,
unwrap that mystery a little bit. Like… we kind of think of, there’s… generalizations
like Lowland style. Highland style, Speyside style, the style
that they have in Islay and the Isles. Yeah. Is that something that was just
created in the modern era or is that always been
a certain style? No, no, the areas that
you’re speaking of, the Highland line, we’ll start with that.
The Highland line was a taxation line. The big controlling families of the day,
the Steins, the Haigs, Uh…the Jamesons,
were legal distillers and they used the might
of Industrial Revolution. The first steam engine in
Scotland -was to fire a distillery.
-That’s true. So the taxation was different in
the Lowlands from the Highlands The Highlands was forced underground,
but they made quality whisky These guys had to
make fast distillation. From that, the continuous
distillation process comes. So the Highlanders made the quality whisky
and smuggled it in to the Lowlands, much… much to their annoyance, so when the
King was asking for something illegal, it was time for reform. On the Isles, it’s to do with
the fuel that they have. The very heavily peated
peat gives our big intensity into it. Orkney is a different sector, More a sea…
sea moor peat. Less phenols, lovely taste and you’ll
see that in Highland Park… -Campbeltown
-Campbeltown A region that went out of fashion,
Prohibition dealt it a blow. And also… we’ll blame the Americans. -You know?
-Please! The flavors in America after the war,
the Second World War, the GI’s got a taste of it, we exported whisky
to you to get dollars so we could fight the war and then when
the GI’s came over, they… they loved the scotch
whisky but they would say, “I’d like it with a little
less peat.” So we started In Speyside to reduce it,
because we’ve got the fruity floral characters of Speyside
which was… was the defining flavors of the brands that were very popular.
Chivas Regal exported to the States since 1909, is it Alec?
::off screen:: yeah. And all over the world. All over the world,
an international brand. Can you differentiate the styles between
the Highlands and Speysides a little bit? -Just in general?
-Right The Highlands, the Highlands,
north of Highlands, broadly speaking, I would expect to see in a
Highland whisky, uh, that lovely honey note. Nor as fruity sometimes as a
Speyside, but there’s lots of delicate but Highlands’ difficult to tie down, and if you
use the example of Glenmorangie which is very light and yet down the road you
have Dalmore, which is this great, big bruiser of a whisky, but the Speyside
is a subdivision of the Highland round about the River Spey. It cuts it in
half, it’s a river that flows to the northeast and then they are determined
by their fruity floral styles. And you’ll keep here in that man… I
repeat it like a mantra, Glenlivet, fruity, floral, hint of toffee, maybe
banana, most definitely pineapple. And what would you attribute those
aspects of the flavor profile to? Is that because of the stills? Or is that because you guys play
around with different wine cask finishes? That’s… good question. On the distillery process in itself,
I say you can’t pick one and I always use it as in the orchestra -Or the football player.
-Okay. That everything has to
be in place because Glenlivet is the most copied
pot still shape in the world, and I’m looking around some
of these fantastic bottles here. Yamazaki distillery used to have
Glenlivet style shapes. They still have one or two. -Kavalan, that row there,
-Mmhmm are really identical to Glenlivet pot stills,
but that’s not Glenlivet. The magic never traveled with a
copper pot still. The reason being I’ve asked the coppersmith
to weld in a little patch of iron and that will kill
all the whisky. ::LAUGHTER:: -That’s a joke!
-That’s a joke, that’s a joke. So that doesn’t travel, but the
water supply is unique to Glenlivet. Josie’s well’s part of it.
Blairfindy springs. So Josie’s well, okay, so
is this, like, actual well? This is a well that bubbles up
very deep from the ground. It’s got some temporary hardness, Again, that…
that’s one of the myths dispelled. Not all the Speyside whiskies
are soft water, some are hard. And how does that affect the
fermentation? Because we talked about, like again going back to the flavor profile,
those fruity notes, I would like to think a lot of time that’s…. those are
esters coming from the fermentation, Yes. Do you guys… do you have a specific kind of
fermentation that encourages the growth of those, like, tropical fruit
flavors and that kind of thing? Or do you attribute it more to the style of water
creating different aspects in the fermentation? Well… Correct, all the things,
the water… The water is ideal for brewing, but we’re not making
beer, but it’s ideal for extracting certain characters. Glenlivet, that
fruity, floral style will be manipulated by the style of the brewing process and
then the fermentation is very important because many of that fruits, the
orchard fruits that we have, the pears, the apples, have the influence from the
malted barley and the brewing process with action of yeast and that’s important,
length of fermentation is very important. And all these little tricks go
together to produce the orchestral sound. Beautiful. Do you guys have… how
long is your fermentation? Fermentation is roundabout 50 hours. And you were describing how your stills have
been copied all around the world by so many different distilleries.
how do you gauge? Like, are they large stills?
Or these… kind of like medium sized stills? They look very large, stills,
we were quoting the size Total height of the wash still, seven meters but
they have this distinctive corpus shape it comes in and it comes out like a
tulip. It comes out, it looks like that glass. We call it the pinched
waist of the tulip, and this all encourages
the copper kiss. The amount of copper available
to the vapors rising up is essential in the Glenlivet for producing the fruit, so
the stillls are important. So that copper kiss is important.
It’s also how we manipulate the stills and they, the stills, haven’t been
changed in over 150 years. We know that through records. The method operation is nearly 200 years.
We have lots of science to support it. That’s a final arbiter and also it’s a final
arbiter with the customer as well. And you guys have been basically making it
the same way for a 150, 200 years? We’ve been making single
malt scotch whisky with malted barley for many different years. You are correct
about the next part. The different oak casks
will enhance flavors. They also take off and mature
flavors of the new spirit. but we replace them with lovely, oaky
flavors and they manipulate the fruits, etc. we recover in distillation. I
always quote one of my old bosses, one of the old owners
of another distillery. He says it’s the impurities that we leave in
will be the character of the whisky. -Well that’s a beautiful sentiment.
-Yeah I like to think that…
that’ll work for me! That was Major McCassik
at Glen Grant. Thank you for watching the spirit guide
society podcast.
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One thought on “The History of Glenlivet (with Master Distiller Alan Winchester) – Spirit Guide Society

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