The Glenlivet expansion and a missing man

The Glenlivet ExpansionRejoice! We’re back in Edinburgh after two days of intensive and thorough investigations into The Glenlivet distillery’s new expansion, its range of products and plans for the future. Those of you who follow us on Twitter already know roughly what happened and I can’t really see the point of reporting the whole thing back to you minute by minute. There is some video footage we shot and within a couple of days I will, and this time for real, put together a short clip and embed it here. For now let me just say that the hospitality there was quite literally royal! We met some old friends and have made brand new ones, the Prince of Wales admitted he didn’t read our blog (which came as a shock to everyone) and this morning I realised I couldn’t quite make the usual hole on my belt.

What was all the fuss about?

The expansion of The Glenlivet distillery, namely their new facilities and the capacity they have reached, are all truly impressive. The new wing has a new lauter mash tun, eight new Douglas-fir washbacks and three pairs of spanking new shiny stills. All set across an open-plan interior of a modern building designed by leading Scottish architects. All that for a bargain price of £10m.

The Glenlivet Expansion Inside

‘Strategic’ is too small a word

The extension increased the distillery’s capacity by some 75% taking them from 6m to over 10m litres a year. There is currently no need to distil flat-out however and there probably won’t be for a while. But the new facility is not about today, it is all about tomorrow. The Glenlivet will not need another expansion until at least 2100. By then we will all be dead and so will most of our children so no real needs to worry, eh? Christian Porta, Chivas’ CEO, told us that in the times of bad economic climate they look ahead to brighter future and invest to come out stronger at the other end. Their ultimate goal is to oversell Glenfiddich and become number 1 single malt on the planet. Christian said that a few times and then he mentioned that again. And again. They really want that no 1 spot badly and the time will show whether that’s realistic. One thing is for sure though, they now have the right tool for the job. All there is left to do is sell the stuff.

What did we think?

A state-of-the-art distilling facility: £10m. Seeing Chris and Lucas wet their pants in front of everyone: priceless.
But seriously, we thought it was awesome! A guy from our group said the new facility was ‘clinical’. We had to agree on disagreeing with that asshole, he is now buried behind the warehouses. The new wing is modern and clean, it is purpose-built and it serves its purpose well. It is built with the use of local materials and it blends in with the surroundings while being unmistakably new. Extensive use of glass brings the outdoors inside and, in a way, takes the production process outside, it feels very natural and I can’t imagine it being done in any other way. Full marks.

We can’t say only nice things though, can we?

If we did, you could think the soft bribery they exercised on us worked and now we’re Pernod’s people online. They wish! As soon as I can think of anything bad to say about their new extension, their brave future outlook, their ‘think globally, act locally’ marketing approach, their product range, the actual whisky, the hospitality… as soon as I can think of anything bad at all I’ll go on one of my rants. Until then we have to give them the benefit of the doubt and say: they got it right.


The Glenlivet Expanson Outside


  1. lucky you…
    sound like oodles of fun.
    man, i do live in the wrong country.
    help me convince my wife to move to Edinburgh.

  2. It looks exactly like Glenburgie, except the shape of the stills

    (same company!)


  3. I adore The Glenlivet, I really do, but with all its automation and sheer enormity, it has quite a pronounced factory feel. I would support your comment, however, Lucas: it is modern but it does fit.
    Glenfiddich has the same production stats but advocates tradition to a far greater extent, and I thought provided a more pleasurable experience as a result. The distillery has of course expanded far beyond William Grant’s original buildings but is still one of the most beautiful in Scotland.

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