Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Hillside was something of a chameleon during its lifespan, switching between malt and grain distillation and having its name changed frequently. It began life as 'Highland Esk' distillery, founded in Montrose in the Eastern Highlands in 1897 by the famous wine merchant Septimus Parsonage. The buildings were a converted flax mill.

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HillsideSingle Malt Scotch Whisky

Highland Esk became 'North Esk' in 1899 when the distillery was transferred to a J E Caille Heddle. Soon after, the distillery fell silent when it was requisitioned by the British Army during the Great War.

In 1919, North Esk became 'North Esk Maltings',but it does not seem that any whisky was made there until 1938, when ownership was taken over by a conglomerate headed by Joseph W Hobbs, a prominent figure in the industry who already owned several other distilleries including Glenury Royal, Glenkinchie and Bruichladdich.

Hobbs installed a patent still and converted North Esk Maltings into a functioning grain distillery, renaming it as'Montrose'.But WWII intervened, the distillery was requisitioned by the army and again fell silent, and subsequently Montrose was sold to Distillers Company Ltd (DCL) in 1954, remaining silent until 1959. Ownership was then transferred to a DCL subsidiary, Scottish Malt Distillers (SMD) in 1964, at which point Montrose grain distillery underwent another transformation, re-emerging as 'Hillside' malt distillery.

Hillside carried on until 1980, when the name was changed to 'Glenesk', but it was unable to survive the torrid times of the 1980s and was closed in 1985. The license was returned in 1992 and the distillery was demolished in 1996.

During its lifetime, Hillside / Glenesk was used almost exclusively for blending (a significant part of its output went into VAT 69), but some proprietary bottlings were released in the 1970s and 1980s. In the mid-1990s Diageo released some Hillside bottlings under the Rare Malts banner.

Glenesk / Hillside at its best was generally light and sweet, with occasional phenols turning up in some bottlings.


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