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The Glenesk was built on what was once a flax-spinning mill. In 1897, the Dundee wine merchant James Isles and Septimus Parsonage and Co converted the buildings, founding the distillery under the name Highland Esk. The name changed several times during its lifetime, the first time was in 1899, when J F Caille Heddle purchased the distillery and renamed it North Esk.

Following a devastating fire in 1910, much of the distillery had to be rebuilt. The distillery closed during the Second World War, reopening in 1938 under the name Montrose, named for the village in which it stands, at the bands of the River Esk, having been acquired by Associated Scottish Distillers. During this time the distillery had been used to produce grain whisky. In 1964, the distillery was renamed Hillside. By this time much of the whisky had been used in the famous William Sanderson blend VAT 69.

It was not until 1980 that the distillery became known as Glenesk, closing just five years later, cancelling the license 1992. The UK’s largest malt producer, Greencore Maltings Group, acquired Glenesk in 1997. Today bottlings are rare and appear under the variety of names the distillery has been entitled over the years.

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About Glenesk Whisky Distillery

Distillery Founded


Distillery Owner


Distillery Status


Distillery Address

Hillside, By Montrose, Angus


The distillery is founded by James Isles. The first name is Highland Esk Distillery.


The distillery is sold to Septimus Parsonage & Co. Ltd in London.


The distillery is bought by J. F. Caille Heddle and the name changes to North Esk Distillery.


A fire breaks out and the distillery has to be rebuilt.


Thomas Bernard & Co. buys the distillery but only uses the maltings under the name North Esk Maltings.


Production restarts headed by Joseph Hobbs and Associated Scottish Distillers. The distillery is converted into a grain distillery and the name is changed to Montrose Distillery.


The distillery is bought by Distillers Company Limited (DCL) who uses the facilities for storage and malting.


DCL resumes grain distilling.


DCL transfers operations to Scottish Malt Distillers (SMD) who starts malt distilling. The name changes to Hillside.


A large drum maltings is built adjacent to the distillery.


Name changes to Glenesk Distillery & Maltings.


The distillery closes in December.


Hillside 1969 is launched as a Rare Malt.


The last pieces of equipment are taken down. Hillside 1970 (25 years) is launched as a Rare Malt.


Hillside 1971 is launched as a Rare Malt. The maltings is sold to Paul´s Malt.

Reproduced from the Malt Whisky Yearbook 2009 with the kind permission of Mr Ingvar Ronde

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Vintage Cocktails
A 1970 vintage Hillside (or Glenesk, as it was known from 1980 onwards) single malt Scotch whisky, bottled at 25 years old for the Rare Malts collection. Glenesk has had a number of names over the...  More info
Distilled at Glen Esk in 1984 and aged for 20 years before bottling in 2004 for Gordon and MacPhail's Connoisseur's Choice range.  More info
This Rare Old bottling from Gordon & MacPhail features single malt Scotch whisky from the closed Glenesk distillery. It was distilled way back in 1979 and bottled in 2013. As with many closed...  More info

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