In the autumn of 1886 William Grant, son of a Dufftown tailor and Manager of Mortlach Distillery, bought the distilling equipment from Elizabeth Cumming of Cardhu for £120. With his wife and nine children he set about carting stone from the bed of the River Fiddich and building his distillery on a site on the edge of the town named Glenfiddich, ‘the valley of the deer’. The first whisky ran from its stills on Christmas Day 1887.He must have been a talented distiller, for his whole output was soon snapped up by Aberdeen blender and broker William Williams. Within 25 years, the family firm had 63 agencies internationally, proving them with their family blend, ‘Grant’s Standfast’. The firm is still wholly owned by the Grant family now in its fifth generation, and has expanded to include three more malt distilleries Balvenie, Kininvie and Ailsa Bay, a grain plant Girvan and other brands such as Monkey Shoulder and Hendrick’s gin.
In 1963 the Directors of William Grant & Sons took the unprecedented step of bottling Glenfiddich Pure Malt and marketing in the same way as blended Scotch had always been marketed; at first in England, then overseas. The venture was a huge success, export sales alone rising from 4.000 cases in 1964 to 119.500 cases in 1974. That year the company was granted the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement, the first whisky company to be so honoured.