A 'First Class' malt much loved by blenders, Glen Elgin was for years most often tasted in the blended Scotch, White Horse. Today, once again, it is available as a splendid single malt, and as the summer house-martins swoop among the worm tubs at this traditional distillery on the edge of the Royal Burgh of Elgin, little seems to have changed in a hundred years.
As a Speyside malt, its style, of course, is smooth, mellow and sweetly honeyed. Soft spring water comes from the area of Millbuies Loch to the south-east of the distillery. Close your eyes as you nose a glass and you can almost see bees pollinating flowers, then honey-sweet and malty flavours dominate the palate - even a dash of tangerine fruitiness can be found.
"A superb whisky that deserves to be better known. Ranked as 'top class' by blenders." Charles Maclean, whisky writer and expert.
THE DISTILLERY IN THE PAST
As many as a hundred malt whisky distilleries have been born in the green glens of Speyside, many of them, like Glen Elgin, in the boom years just before 1900.
But even as the new chimney stacks rose, trouble was brewing in the whisky industry. Glen Elgin’s designer, the renowned Elgin architect Charles Doig, made an apocalyptic prediction, that this would be the last distillery built on Speyside for fifty years. Even this turned out to be conservative; it was actually 60 years before Tormore became the next.
At least, in Glen Elgin, the last was saved for best. And, in fact, little has changed in a hundred years.
In the circumstances, that itself is a miracle. Work on the buildings began shortly before the 1898-99 collapse of Leith whisky blender, Pattisons, famously drove a buoyant market for malt whisky into recession. Local legend has it that many of the workers went unpaid and that the steeplejacks only got their money when they threatened to demolish the chimney stack. Glen Elgin’s next act was to impoverish its creators, who were forced to sell it for perhaps a quarter of its cost within a year of its eventually beginning production in May 1900.
Speyside’s newest distillery changed hands once more in 1902 and again in 1906, when it at last began a stable period of almost 25 years in the hands of Glasgow blender John J. Blanche. In the 1930s, it became part of Scottish Malt Distillers, for whom it was an important component of the well-known White Horse blend.
Innovations were rare during Glen Elgin’s first half century though one is of interest – the site had partly been chosen for its ability to make use of abundant water supplies from the Glen Burn to drive a turbine that provided most of the power needed to run the machinery. As a result, electricity from the national supply was not needed until 1950. The early 1960s brought much needed investment and four new stills were finally added to the original two. Glen Elgin™ became available as a single malt and exports of a 12 year-old expression, mainly to Italy and Japan, began in 1977.
- Food suggestion
- Glen Elgin™ goes well with salschichon – an Iberian slicing sausage.
- Taste style
- Smooth. Smooth malts are likely to hold more sweetness than saltiness and tend to be more creamy than dry.