Glen Spey 2004

Bot.2013 Connoisseurs Choice

70cl / 46%

A 2004-vintage Glen Spey bottled for Gordon & MacPhail's Connoisseurs Choice range. Glen Spey's pleasant, grassy single malt is rather rare as most of it goes into J & B.

Nose: fresh but shy and neutral. Apples, vanilla, lemon, but all very light. White flowers. Citrus green tea. Fennel seeds.

Nose: Fresh pineapple juice, green apples, flapjacks, smell of wet grass, white pepper – deeper – oatmeal hint

Palate: Floral at first, with plenty of vanilla-y barley in support. Caramel and orchard fruit; pineapple or fruit drops

Finish: creamy/sugared almonds and spicy nutmeg.


Glen Spey Distillery

Founded      1878 – Rothes, Moray
Sorce           Doonie Burn (off the River Spey)
Equipment   2 Wash stills, 2 Spirit stills
Production   1,400,000 litres of pure alcohol per year
Owners         Diageo UDV (since 1962)

One of the most 'obscure' distilleries in Scotland is Glen Spey, even though it is located in the heartland of malt whisky production: the Speyside area. This might be caused by the fact that the capacity of the distillery is relatively modest compared to other distilleries in the area. What's more, Glen Spey was always meant to be used for blended whisky. Single Malts are very rare – first was in 2001.

One of 5 distilleries in Rothes – others being Glenrothes, Glen Grant and Speyburn - and Caperdonich (sleeping).


Glen Spey distillery was built in 1878 by grain merchant James Stuart & Co. under the name 'Mill of Rothes'. The Glen Spey distillery actually started its life as an oatmeal mill. The distillation equipment was simply added to the existing mill.


James Stuart bought the Macallan distillery and sold Glen Spey to W. & A. Gilbey for 11,000 GBP. According to the Malt Whisky Yearbook they were the first English company to buy a Scottish malt whisky distillery. Gilbey soon merged with Justerini & Brooks – London wine merchant – which became the ‘J&B’ blended whisky, which Glen Spey is used in.

They use special after-coolers to help condense the vapours from the still. Several distilleries that are located upstream along the Rothes Burn discard their warm water into the stream.

By the time the water reaches Glen Spey, the temperature is too high to be fully effective in cooling the stills and condensing the spirit. By the way, these days the distillers don't discharge hot water directly into the streams and rivers anymore, because this would be bad for the local fish populations.

These days most hot water is recycled within the distilleries or cooled through heat-exchangers before it's released back into the stream.