The original distillery was called Milton, a typical farm distillery, established by the brothers John and George Rate in 1825 to make use of the surplus grains they produced after adopting the improved farming methods introduced by the Agricultural Revolution. In 1837 they moved to the present site and built a new distillery, but by 1852 they were bankrupt. Glenkinchie remained inactive for a few decades, until in 1880, when the site was bought by a consortium of distillers and wine merchants, who named themselves the Glen Kinchie Distillery Company. The distillery was reconstructed, and production resumed again successfully. In 1914, Glenkinchie formed the Scottish Malt Distillers group with four other Lowland distilleries.
A little more than a decade later, in 1925, SMD was bought by Distiller’s Company Limited. Remarkably, Glenkinchie managed to continue to operate through both the World Wars. As the twentieth century drew to a close, Glenkinchie continued to undergo a series of developments. The floor maltings were closed in 1969, and converted into a museum, and two new bottlings, a 12 year old and 20 year old cask strength, were released in 2007.