Former Fettercairn distillery owner Sir John Gladstone was the father of Britain's Victorian Prime Minister William Gladstone.
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Tours through Fettercairn Distillery are available Monday to Saturday during summer. Charges apply.
Fettercairn is located in the heart of one of the most fertile farming areas in Scotland. The distillery can be found close to the small town of Laurencekirk, that lies between Dundee and Aberdeen. This area of the eastern Highlands once had many distilleries, but these have gradually closed down over the last 30 years and now only Fettercairn and the recently re-opened Glencadam remain. The distillery has a couple of peculiarities. The first is that it takes its water for production and cooling from an area in the Cairngorm mountains 40 miles to the west of the distillery. It is rare for a distillery to transport water over such a great distance. The second is a strange set up with the stills. Cold water is pumped to the top of the still and allowed to run down the outside of the neck. This increases the condensation rate of the alcohol vapours inside the neck and produces a light and fresh spirit. The water is collected and reused over and over again. Fettercairn is the only distillery to use this method of condensing.
Fettercairn Distillery was founded in 1824 by Sir Alexander Ramsay and it was one of the first in the east Highlands area to be granted a legal license. The original name was Old Fettercairn. It was soon to change hands, when Sir John Gladstone took control in 1830. The distillery was partly gutted by a fire in 1887 and remained closed for three years while it was renovated. By this time, it was in the hands of the third generation of the Gladstone family with John Robert Gladstone at the helm. He formed the Fettercairn Distillery Company with some of his business colleagues during the time of rebuilding. By 1912 the company was on the verge of liquidation, and John rescued it by buying out all his partners. However, the distillery didn't survive the slump in the whisky industry following the First World War and closed in 1926. Production restarted in 1939, when the facilities were taken over by new owners – a group called the National Distillers of America. They doubled the capacity of the distillery during the 1960s. Its current capacity is 2.3 million litres per year with current owners, Whyte & Mackay, taking most of the whisky produced at Fettercairn for their own range of blended whiskies. The only single malt currently released is the 12 years old '1824'. This is a rebranded version of the Old Fettercairn whisky that was available until 2002.