It’s a fair summary to say that Glenlossie hasn’t really set the whisky world alight since its foundation in 1876. The distillery itself was established following the rise in demand for Speyside whisky from blenders and the public. Step forward John Duff, who already had an extensive whisky résumé having been the manager of the GlenDronach and also went on to co-found the Longmorn distillery in 1893. He had from all accounts taken time out after managing GlenDronach, becoming a hotel manager before going back into distilling with the creation of the John Duff & Company that included several of his customers at the hotel.
Duff went so far as to use his experience to design and manage Glenlossie which was a sizeable undertaking for anyone. Nothing was left to chance and the location offered the nearby presence of a major railway that was utilised to transport casks south. The consortium behind Glenlossie included future owners and founders for distilleries such as Talisker, Speyburn, Dailuaine and BenRiach in what turned out to be a prosperous period for whisky. In 1896, the original John Duff & Co was disbanded and reconstituted in the form of the more impressive sounding Glenlossie-Glenlivet Distillery Company Limited.
Things ran smoothly at the Glenlossie until the arrival of the First World War, when government regulations prompted its closure in 1917 due to restrictions on grain. Following the end of the war and lifting of the embargo, Glenlossie sprang into life with a new owner in the form of the Distillers Company Limited, with the previous owners having become bankrupt. This firm was a forerunner to the Diageo we know today, where Glenlossie remains within their stable of distilleries.
In 1929 a fire caused notable damage at the distillery and the need for repairs. Further improvements were not forthcoming until the 1950’s due to increased demand that across Speyside prompted a series of rebuilding and refurbishments. For Glenlossie additional warehousing was added to the site on an almost consistent basis until the mid-1970’s. Today the site comprises of 14 warehouses, which is an impressive number given how the distillery mainly supports the blend market. This increase is also partially to accommodate the nearby sister distillery known as Mannochmore that was established in 1971.
For Glenlossie in 1962, the number of stills was increased to 3 pairs, distinctively onion shaped, which is the number in use today. Together these account for an annual capacity of just under 4 million litres, almost exclusively going to the Diageo blends where Glenlossie is highly prized by blenders for its light character. For a while Glenlossie worked in tandem with Mannochmore with only 1 distillery operation for a specific period, before switching back to the other distillery. This practice came to an end with the current upsurge in demand for whisky, which prompted both distilleries to become operational full-time.
Today, if you’re looking to seek out Glenlossie as a single malt, then the most common releases are those bottled by independent firms where the distillery enjoys strong support. For an official release then this did not debut until 1990, when a gentle 10-year-old was released as part of the Flora & Fauna series, specifically created to showcase overlooked distilleries that mainly supported blends. With the exception of a Manager’s Choice single cask distilled in 1999 and bottled in 2009, Glenlossie remains content to support the Diageo blends and keep out of the spotlight.