Tribute To George Smith Founder Of The Glenlivet Distillery
The Glenlivet Founders’ Reserve was released in 2014 to honour George Smith, the late visionary who established The Glenlivet Distillery. Smith fought against all odds to lay the foundations for an institution that would go on to become one of the greatest Speyside landmarks in history.
With the release of The Glenlivet Founders’ Reserve, Master Distiller Alan Winchester and the people at The Glenlivet wished to honour not only the man, but the methods and techniques he developed. These were the methods and techniques that would go on to define an era of dominance for The Glenlivet that has yet to be extinguished.
Today, The Glenlivet have one of the most prized and premium core range of single malt Scotch whiskies put together with the utmost precision. The brand is a critically revered, bestselling single malt Scotch whisky, sought after by enthusiasts and aspirants alike. They excel in sales worldwide, selling more than 1.2 million nine-litre cases worldwide in 2019.
The Glenlivet is the number one selling single malt whisky in a number of crucial markets, and top three in many more performing exceptionally well in the United States of America, India, South-Asia and Europe.
Things were not always as fortunate and glorious when George Smith began his operations, nestled within the lush green hills in the valley of Livet. Tucked away not only from the world around him, but also from the Customs Officers that could arrest him for distilling whisky was illegal during those days.
It was then that George Smith perfected his ways, rising to a level of fame that could entice even a king. Entice it did in 1822, when King George IV arrived in Scotland. The King expressed a wish to try the infamous ‘Glenlivet’ whisky, undeterred by the fact that it was an illegal product. Two years later, the Excise Act of 1824 was expected to make things easier for distillers across Scotland by granting licenses for distillation.
Instead, this legislation brought threats of violence against George Smith, who was actively seeking to obtain a license for his distillery. Other distillers in the valley threatened to burn down Smith’s distillery, forcing him to go about his business with a pair of flintlock pistols to keep his affairs protected. Nothing could shake off the strength of George Smith’s resolve, a value shared by the company he helped build from the ground up.
The Glenlivet would go on to become so successful, that a dozen other distillers from the valley tried to reap the benefits of its name by using it for their own product. The passing of George Smith in 1871 meant that the reins of the distillery and the brand fell to his youngest son, John Gordon Smith.
Sharing the same unyielding spirit as his father, John Gordon worked hard to secure the legacy of his father’s distillery, fighting hard for the rights and eventually prevailing. From 1884 onwards, what was until then known simply as ‘Glenlivet’ became ‘The Glenlivet.’
George Smith’s contributions were not only pivotal towards establishing the distillery, but the legendary courage he embodied by fighting whatever came his way are the values imbibed within The Glenlivet Founders’ Reserve.
How was The Glenlivet Founders’ Reserve created?
Master Distiller Alan Winchester says he used the same techniques, relied upon the same ingredients and employed the same freedom George Smith did when he created his ‘Glenlivet’ single malt.
Like George Smith’s ‘single malt that started it all’, the Founders’ Reserve expression was created with the same freedom as Smith himself. The Master Distiller took his pick of the choicest single malts at his disposal, creating a drink that adhered to Smith’s values, not just in principle but also in taste
The Founders’ Reserve was created with the abundant natural resources from the Livet valley, and using the same unique lantern-shaped stills designed by Smith himself. The single malt was matured in traditional Oak barrels, the same way Smith did, administering a sweet and creamy smoothness, with the complex fruity and floral Speyside character that is renowned throughout the world.
Bottled in the same characteristic ‘Glenlivet’ design, this expression uses the Georgian Blue colour, another reference and homage to George Smith. It has been placed at the entry-level in the core range for the brand, a very important segment that makes up for a massive chunk of sales for all single malt Scotch brands. This is a testimony of the faith and brilliance of George Smith’s vision and methods that were truly ahead of his time.
The Glenlivet Founders’ Reserve is not just any other single malt Scotch, but a single malt Scotch created to honour a man without whom Scotch whisky wouldn’t be what it is today.