The Glen Spey distillery sits below the ruins of Castle Rothes, once home to the Earls of Rothes who lived there until a devastating fire in 1662. Now just a few sections of wall remain. The Glen Spey whisky distillery was founded as the Mill of Rothes in 1878 by James Stuart and Co, the buildings having started out life as an oatmeal mill. Six years later, James Stuart purchased the Macallan distillery and in 1887 the English company W & A Gilbey acquired the Glen Spey for £11,000.
The distillery has some rather interesting features. For one, Glen Spey shares its water source, the Rothes Burn, with several other distilleries, though not only did they draw water, but also discard hot waters that had previously cooled their stills. By the time the water reached Glen Spey it was far too hot to cool the stills effectively, thus water coolers were employed. This is no longer necessary as regulations are somewhat stricter and the distilleries must now cool their water before discarding it. Another feature of note being the spirit stills, which are operated at a low pressure, thus negating the use of release valves. The spirit stills are also fitted with purifiers; these increase the reflux and so more of the spirit is distilled again before it is condensed. This provides a lighter tasting single malt whisky and a perfect blending component.
Indeed, the Scotch whisky produced at the Glen Spey distillery has long since been used as a blending agent. Notably a good proportion of the whisky is used in J&B blends. Following the installation of a further pair of stills in 1970, the current capacity is 1.39 million litres per annum. In 1962, United Wine Traders merged with W & A Gilbey to form International Distillers and Vintners. A decade later, Watney Mann acquired the company shortly after being purchased by Grand Metropolitan. Following the 1997 merger between Grand Metropolitan and Guinness, Glen Spey is under Diageo ownership. There have been few official releases; today there is just a twelve year-old, although there are a few independent bottlings to be found.