The distillery is set among the gentle, green slopes of the Valley of Forgue in Aberdeenshire’s ‘castle country’. It is rural and peaceful although the colony of rooks in the great, mature trees around the distillery regularly create a breach of the peace. It was precisely such noisy commotion that made the rooks of 200 years ago useful allies of illicit distillers; they always gave warning of anyone, Excise officers included, who approached unannounced.
At Glendronach all of the auxiliary preparation for distilling continues to be done in the traditional ways – it has its own floor maltings and pagoda-headed malt-kiln. Fermentation vessels are still made of wood, the stills are coal-fired and the distillery even grows some of its own barley locally.
The Dronac burn, whose name has been taken for the whisky and the distillery, flows through the grounds. With so many of the traditional practices still being followed and the buildings themselves so little changed, the ‘feel’ both inside and out is most satisfying. The earth floors in the warehouses hold moisture, absorbing some of the excess from the air in wet weather and releasing it during extended hot spells in summertime. The floor maltings are still in use and provide a proportion (about 15 per cent) of the malt needed for production. Glendronach is lightly peated. There are two pairs of stills, which are heated by naked flames from coal fires.
The water for production comes from local springs and barley is grown on the company’s own farms located in the district around the distillery.