Glen Ord

From Ord, meaning ‘hammer’

From Ord, meaning ‘hammer’

The history of the distillery is almost as fascinating and complex as the whisky itself, and is full of illicit distilling, closures, and bankruptcy. In the mid 13th century, King Alexander the III of Scotland granted lands to the MacKenzies of Ord. In 1820, Thomas MacKenzie of Ord inherited the land, leasing a portion of it for the building of a new distillery in 1838 to use the plentiful supply of barley from the nearby Black Isle, and also provide work for the local men. Power was supplied by two large mill wheels, driven by the waters of the White Burn that tumbles down from Loch Nam Bonnach high on the hill above. To begin with, water for mashing was drawn from the nearby ‘Cookoo Well’, and later supplemented with water from the burn.

Despite the distillery going bankrupt in 1847, it was run illegally until their new owners, Alexander McLennan and Thomas McGregor took ownership and secured a new licence in 1855. Business boomed, and Glen Ord was exported and drunk as far afield as Singpore and South Africa. The distillery passed through multiple owners and was closed in 1917-19 and 1939-46 by the government in order to preserve grain for food supplies during the two world wars. In 1949, under the ownership of Scottish Malt Distillers, the first electricity supply was connected, and in 1966 production was tripled with the installation of four new stills. Around this time, an RAF jet fighter crashed into Loch Nam Bonnach, the pilot ejecting safely onto the hillside. A team of divers was sent to recover the aircraft, but quickly gave up after discovering a 6ft-long pike in the peaty waters.

In 1968, large mechanical floor maltings were constructed next door, which today supplies multiple distilleries with their malted barley. In 1997 Glen Ord was incorporated into the Diageo portfolio.