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Glenfiddich Distillery Tour – Visit Glenfiddich and Speyside

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Last Updated on July 15, 2024 by Leah Hall

Glenfiddich Distillery tour and tasting in the Speyside region in Scotland. Follow along on our informative visit and it will make you want to go in person yourself!

 

Glenfiddich Distillery has traditional processes and distillery charm. When you take the tour, you will find lovely stone warehouses where the magic of maturation happens, as well as buildings of copper stills, old mash tuns and more! Check out more about Scotland whisky regions!

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white building with Glenfiddich sign at Glenfiddich Distillery

We went on our tour during winter, and stayed in Craigellachie, just north of the distillery. Glendfiddich is between Craigellachie and Dufftown. When we arrived at Craigellachie Hotel (affiliate) it was cold and dark (sunset was at 3:30!), covered in snow and felt a bit deserted. We tucked into dinner in the restaurant on the first floor and went to bed asap after some drams, and then got ready to go on the Glenfiddich distillery tour the next morning.

cheese and crackers on a board with whisky at Craigellachie Hotel in Scotland

After some adventure getting out of the not shoveled parked lot (whole other story) we made the trek south to the distillery.

view of trees and snow covered ground from our room at Craigellachie Hotel in Scotland snow covered road and trees in Scotland

A few different tours are offered during the year, led by expert guides and ending with a tasting of four different whiskies.

Check out our tour of Lindores Abbey Distillery, too!

snow covered stone buildings at Glenfiddich Distillery

Glenfiddich Distillery

If you don’t know, Glenfiddich means “Valley of the Deer.” And it is in a gorgeous snow covered valley for sure. We saw no deer, though.

 

With the size and layout of the distillery, and steps in each stage of whisky making, we think it may be harder to follow than in a smaller operation. But, the grand scale of Glenfiddich is awe-inspiring and so interesting to see just the shear volume of production.

pagoda top building at Glenfiddich Distillery

Glenfiddich also has an on-site bottling line, unfortunately not part of the tour. This is unique among whisky distilleries. It is usual in the industry for the dilution and bottling to take place away from the distillery, using distilled water for dilution.

 

Of course a key ingredient of whisky is the water, which comes from the Robbie Dhu spring. This same water is added to the spirit off of the stills (at about 70% alcohol) to bring it to “cask strength” of 63.5% when it is placed in casks.

a switch at Glenfiddich Distillery

Again the spring water is used to dilute the whisky to 40% alcohol after aging in casks to be bottled.

 

The distillery is also extremely unusual by remaining in the hands of the same family, operating as William Grant & Sons Ltd., since it’s inception. It is still owned, together with Balvenie, Kininvie, Alisa Bay, and Girvan Distilleries, by the Grant family. (As well as Hendrick‘s).

snow covered buildings and pond at Glenfiddich distillery

Glenfiddich Distillery Tour

We attended the Distillery Tour, which in total was about 90 minutes.

 

Even while walking from the parking lot the air has a scent of fermenting mash. When approaching the beautiful distillery, you pass bonded warehouses and one of the still houses on the way to the visitor center.

snow covered warehouse buildings at Glenfiddich Distillery

 

The tour starts off with the history of the life of William Grant as told by our tour guide. Grant started Glenfiddich in 1866. The first whisky came off the stills Christmas Day 1887, as legend goes. In the 1950s the company introduced its signature triangular bottles. Even more important, the company worked in the 1960s to establish single-malt whisky as a premium category, different from blended whisky that was the norm before this. This category includes Johnny Walker, Chivas and more.

 

Today, Glenfiddich distillery produces all the whisky in single malts, their main range from 12 to 29 years, and a lot of experimental and vintage releases.

on the Glenfiddich Whisky Tour the mash tuns

Unlike most distillery tours which start with the malting and milling part of whisky-making, Glenfiddich goes straight to the mash room. The distillery has 4 mash tuns and each can hold 10 tons of barley. You can feel the heat and smell of hot mash swirling in the giant mash tuns with water from the Robbie Dhu spring. It is warm in this room and the next and feels lovely on a cold day.

 

Onto the next room, where the mash is moved into the Oregon pine washbacks, (48 of them!) where fermentation takes place with the addition of yeast and the sugar turns to alcohol. Each washback has a wooden lid with a stirring motor in the center. You can see the bubbling and fermentation happening before your eyes as you stand on the raised platform floor above them. They are huge – 50,000 liters each.

Underback at Glenfiddich distillery large wooden washback at Glenfiddich Distillery

Then we walked over to the still house lined with copper stills. There are 3 large still houses with stills just like those installed in 1887. This is especially noticeable with the spirit stills, which come in pairs with different shape necks, just like the original mismatched pair (because they were all he could get) by William Grant.

outside of stone still house at Glenfiddich Distillery

The output of each pair of spirit stills is mixed to give the final product.  These include large wash stills for the first distillation and smaller spirit stills for the second. The left row has three wash stills and five spirit stills, and the right has two wash stills and four spirit stills. Half the spirit still necks have boil balls, the other half constricted necks. 

large copper stills in rows in the stillhouse at Glenfiddich Distillery copper stills in a row at Glenfiddich Distillery

The warehouse was the last part of the tour and Glenfiddich uses American bourbon barrels as well as Spanish sherry casks to age the whisky. They have their own coopersmiths to assemble the casks. We got to smell an empty bourbon barrel and a sherry cask to note the difference and understand how that would affect the flavor of the whisky.

door to warehouse at Glenfiddich Distillery

We were not able to take photos inside the warehouse, but can share they also have a Solera vat, a much larger wooden tank. The idea with the Solera vat is that whisky from different types of barrels (ex-sherry, ex-bourbon, new American oak) are continuously blended. The vat is never completely empty. It is continually filled with whisky from barrels as some is removed. This whisky is in use to make the Glenfiddich 15 year expression.

snow covered stone buildings at Glenfiddich Distillery

Glenfiddich Distillery Tasting

The last part of the tour was the whisky tasting. We enjoyed a “tutored nosing”, a fancy way of saying tasting four whiskies. Starting with the 12 year, 15 year Solera, 18 year small batch and finishing with the 21 year Grand Reserva. You learn how to swirl to open up the flavors, sniff without water, and sip without water.

wall of whiskies in the tasting room at Glenfiddich Distillery

Then, we add a few drops of water, swirl, sniff, and finally taste with water. These steps do make a change in scent and taste of the whisky.

woman sniffing whisky in a glencairn glass

If you are driving, you cannot to do the tasting. But, they send you on your way with the whole tasting in small bottles to take and try at your destination. A lovely and safe touch that we loved to see!

to go whisky tastings in a box at Glenfiddich Distillery

Feel free to visit the gift shop and Malt Barn Coffee Shop & Bar after or before your tour. The distillery shop is open 10:30am-5 pm everyday. The shop has items from Glenfiddich and Balvenie consisting of souvenirs, collectors’ items, whiskies and distillery exclusive whiskies.

row of whiskies in glencairn glasses in the tasting room at Glenfiddich Distillery our tour guide doing the tasting with us at Glenfiddich Distillery

Add the Glenfiddich Distillery Tour to your list of must visit distilleries if you haven’t been. Try the other tours of their Solera, with an in-depth tour of their 15 year expression, or the Milestones Tour to visit warehouse 8 and 12 and to fill your own bottle to take home.

black board at Glenfiddich Distillery

Glenfiddich Distillery

Dufftown, Keith AB55 4DH, United Kingdom

 

There are some great places to stay nearby:

 

Other Places to Visit

 

Places to Eat

large wooden washback at Glenfiddich Distillery

Cheers!

 

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