The American market for blended Scotch whisky has always been very lucrative. It was with this in mind that Sam Bronfman of Seagram, a part of Chivas Brothers, planned the build of the Glen Keith distillery. Glen Keith was founded in 1957 and distillation began a year later. The most popular blends being sold in America at that time were of a light, easy drinking style and, accordingly, Glen Keith started producing triple distilled whiskies, not unheard of in Scotland, but perhaps so in Speyside. The resultant spirit was light and perfect for blends, hence it is a major constituent in the 100 Pipers blend, which is currently among the top ten bestselling blends in the world.
The Glen Keith whisky distillery sits in the beautiful village of Keith, not far from the River Isla. The buildings once played host to the Mill of Keith and are rather charming with the elegant pagoda roof sitting atop the 3.5 million litre capacity distillery. Lying in close proximity to Strathisla, a fellow Seamgram owned distillery, Glen Keith draws its waters from the Balloch Hills springs and produces delicate, honeyed single malts. In 1970, the whisky distillery became Scotland’s first to gas-power its stills. Six years later the onsite floor maltings were decommissioned. Independent bottlings are available, despite the comparative scarcity of official house expressions.
During the 1970s, experimental Glenisla malt whisky was made at Glen Keith, destined primarily for use in the Chivas Brothers’ blends. Glenisla was made using both peated malt and peated water (the water was flavoured with smoke and then run through a still to concentrate this smokiness).
In was not until recently however, in 2006, that the first bottling of this extremely rare whisky became available courtesy of Signatory.