William Grant & Sons is the Scottish, family-run business behind some of your favourite whiskies, more specifically Glenfiddich and Grant’s. We first met William Grant and his extremely successful distillery in the Clan Grant blog which piqued my interest and led me to to research further into the family whisky business and find out what was behind their success. If like a dram yourself, this post is for you.
William Grant started working in a distillery as a bookkeeper at the age of 27 and was shortly promoted to distillery manager. This kick started his love of the industry and dream to one day open a distillery of his own. For 20 years he saved until he had enough money to buy a plot of land at Glenfiddich. In 1886 William and his nine children began building the distillery brick by brick, it only took them a year and in 1887 the first drops of whisky were produced.
In 1898 Pattisons went bankrupt, they were the biggest Scottish Whisky blender of the time, and William grabbed the opportunity to expand into exporting and blending. Grant’s blended whisky was born. This was a huge turning point for the company and kick-started their international growth, allowing them to appoint a salesman. By 1914 they had agencies in 30 countries all over the world. 1963 saw Glenfiddich become the first single malt whisky to be exported outwith the UK and the family opened the largest grain distillery in the world.
The business have won a number of awards throughout the years, including the Queen’s Award to Industry for Outstanding Export Achievement and Glenfiddich whisky has won the most awards of any single malt whisky in the world. Whisky making was brought back to the small town of Tullamore after the business opened a distillery there, the first in 60 years. As a quick aside is it Whisky or Whiskey? The Scots spell it Whisky and the Irish spell it Whiskey and the difference comes from the translations of the word from the Scottish and Irish forms. If you are in the United States they also spell it with the extra “e” as it was taken over by the Irish immigrants in the 1700’s. The distillation process is actually different for each country too but let’s save that for another day and another blog!
William Grant belonged to Clan Grant so the business thought it would be fitting to show off their Scottish heritage on the bottles of Grant’s Whisky. Since a company re-brand in 2002 the Clan Grant coat of arms and clan motto ‘Stand Fast’ are now embossed on all bottles.
William Grant & Sons is still a family run business five generations later and their legacy is still as when they began all those years ago, to create “the best dram in the valley”. They continue to grow and expand their business year after year with the expansion into other spirits including Gin, Vodka and Rum.
I hope you enjoyed the story behind some of the world’s most famous whiskies. If you have any other interesting stories about Clan Grant we would love to hear from you!