Balvenie was built on a 12 acre site adjacent to Glenfiddich in 1892/3. Originally known as Glen Gordon it took the name of the huge (ruined) castle which was located next door. The ‘new’ castle, already derelict in 1893, was turned into maltings.
The distillery provided fillings, primarily for the Grant’s Standfast blend, until 1973 when the first official bottling was made. Its continued requirements as a contributor to blends initially restricted its growth as a stand-alone brand (although increasing its cult status). This was eased slightly with the opening of Kininvie in 1990, but it was only with the building of Ailsa Bay that greater stocks were finally made available. It is now one of the fastest-growing single malt brands in the world. The distillery today prodcues 7 million litres of alcohol per year.
William Grant was born on 19 December 1839 in his father's house in Dufftown. At seven he began herding cattle at a farm on the upper reaches of the River Deveron. He was apprenticed to a shoemaker then worked as a clerk, and then became a bookkeeper at Mortlach distillery 1866. There he was appointed as a clerk and then manager and learned the distilling trade.
After about twenty years, Grant left his job at the Mortlach distillery and bought a field near Balvenie Castle. He then drew up plans for his distillery, and the foundation stone was laid in the autumn of 1886.
Grant remained active in the company until his death in 1923 at the age of 83.
In early 1892 work began to convert an 18th-century mansion (Balvenie New House) into a distillery. The building took fifteen months to complete, and on 1 May 1893, the first distillation took place at the Balvenie Distillery.
David Stewart MBE, Balvenie's Malt Master, is one of the industry's most experienced experts and began working with William Grant & Sons in 1962. He is perhaps most famous for being the first to create the process that would later be known as wood finishing, a process whereby whiskies are matured in one type of cask, such as ex-Bourbon barrels, then transferred into a second cask type (such as ex Sherry, Port or Rum) resulting in a greater depth and complexity of the final flavour of the whisky. He received his MBE from Queen Elizabeth II on the 5th of July, 2016 for his services to the Scotch Whisky Industry.
Independent bottlings of Balvenie are rare, in 2006 Wm. Cadenhead bottled a 27yo Balvenie distilled in 1979. Cadenheads bottle "teespooned" Balvenie under the brand Burnside™. Wm Cadenhead have the rights to bottle Burnside™. William Grant & Sons of have rights to hold Cask stocks.