Hiram Walker’s Glenburgie produced a different style of whisky in Lomond stills.
Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky
The real Glen Isla is one of the famous Angus glens than runs north to the ski resort of Glenshee. On the other hand, the eponymous malt whisky was a short-lived experiment to produce a smoky Speyside malt at Glen Keith – the Speyside distillery Seagram built next to its Stathisla distillery in Keith in the late 1950s.
Glen Keith was experimental from the start, testing out triple distillation and gas-fired direct heating for its stills. Among very rare independent bottlings of Glenisla, veteran nose Charlie Maclean found lots of ‘honey-glazed ham’ but precious little peat in a 1977 release from Signatory.
If Maclean struggled to detect smoke it may be because Glenisla was peated in a very peculiar way. Under Seagram, Chivas Brothers had been sending 45-gallon drums of peated water from Stornaway to Glen Keith, where it was run through an angled condenser to concentrate the phenols. Apparently it was added 10 gallons at a time to the wash charge and its impact on the whisky must have been considerably less than using well-peated malt in the traditional way – a method Glen Keith also used.
Glenisla was only produced in the 1970s, and then only for a couple of years. The whisky was blended away, most notably in Chivas’ Century of Malts in the 1990s, although a very small amount has surfaced as a single malt bottled by Signatory.
- 1957-60 Glen Keith distillery is built by Seagram
- 1970s Glenisla is produced for a few years as a peated Speyside malt for blending
- 1995 Glenisla features in Chivas Brothers’ Century of Malts – a vatting of 100 different malt whiskies
- 2006 Independent bottler Signatory releases Glenisla as a limited edition single cask single malt