Global spirits company Beam Suntory has for the first time revealed details of the work in progress in a £6 million upgrade of its Glen Garioch Distllery in Aberdeenshire.
The company said the renovation project would see the distillery, in Oldmeldrum, return to more traditional production processes.
Cutting-edge technology for direct-fired distillation is also being introduced as part of changes aimed at reducing the site’s carbon footprint by around 15%.
Work started last year and various stages of the developmenmt are expected to be completed during the course of 2021.
The cornerstone of the 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, according to Beam Suntory.
We are proud to make this investment in Glen Garioch’s historic distillery, and we’re excited about the future.”
Kwanele Mdluli, distillery manager
Returning Glen Garioch to these traditional processes is a sign of the whisky-maker’s “deep respect” for its rich heritage, as well as the “complexity and quality” of its small batch, hand-crafted single malt, the firm added,
The first new-make spirit is expected to come off the stills later in 2021.
Distillery manager Kwanele Mdluli 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, managing director, Scotch, gin and Irish, Beam Suntory, 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.”
Scotch whiskies under the Beam Suntory banner also include Ardmore, Auchentoshan, Laphroaig, Bowmore and Teacher’s in operations employing more than 360 people.
Glen Garioch has recently increased its distillery operations team from seven to 12, and further hires are planned in 2021.
Beam Suntory said that in returning to traditional distilling and malting methods, Glen Garioch would undertake “significant upskilling” of the workforce.
The distillery is also tapping into the skills and experience of people, including industry stalwart Kenny “Digger” Grant, who used these processes at Glen Garioch in the past.
In addition, the expertise of sister distilleries on Islay which also use traditional floor maltings is being put to good use in support of the project in Oldmeldrum.
One of the oldest operating distilleries in Scotland, Glen Garioch has been making its single malt in the small Aberdeenshire town since 1797.