7 December 2021

113th Whisky Insiders Interview - Dennis Malcolm

Glen Grant Distillery

Master Distiller


How long have you been working in the whisky industry?
Since the 3rd of April 1961. This year has marked the 60th Anniversary of when I first started working in the whisky industry!
What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
There have been quite a few over the last 60 years. I was very pleased when I was only 25, to be made production brewer at Glen Grant. At the age of 33, I was promoted to distillery manager at Glenlivet - running the whole ship. Another that stands out is back in 1982, when I was then in charge of the Chivas Glenlivet Group of distillers, which was comprised of nine distilleries, three farms and an animal feed plant - that certainly kept me busy!
Can you remember your first dram, and indeed what it was?

To be honest, I can’t really remember the very first one, but I know it would have been a Glen Grant. However I do remember having a very nice sherry cask matured whisky when I was around 19 years old.
What does whisky mean to you?

It’s a lifestyle for me. The same with the generations before me, it’s all I’ve known.
Where would you like to see yourself in five years’ time?
Well, the first answer to that is ‘alive’ …. I couldn’t say exactly where I see myself but I’d still like to be involved in the industry, and as I said, it’s all I’ve known. My diary is already piling up for next year so there seem to be lots of exciting things ahead!
What was your last dram?
My last dram was The Glen Grant 60 year old, so not just any old dram! The memory of that one lingers on for a long time. It’s an unbelievably different experience - class in a glass!
Do you have a favourite whisky and food pairing combination?
I hosted a great pairing at Tom’s Kitchen about seven years ago in London. It was a meal matched with expressions including Glen Grant Major’s Reserve, 12 and 18 Year Old. Tom asked me to send the bottles down ahead of time, so he and his team of chefs could play around and put the menu together. The pairings were very interesting indeed!
One suggestion that I must make, which for me is a great pairing is Glen Grant 10 Year Old - which is very deeply fruity and complex, with a sweet chocolate pudding or spread. If you hold a spoonful in your mouth and then take a sip, it’s absolutely stunning.
What’s your favourite time and place to enjoy a dram?
Well that depends on the time of day and who you’re with – it can be a lovely sunny day out in the garden or by the water and I find that the surroundings will really change how you experience a dram. Being in the open air and by a stream, it tastes different to how it tastes indoors. There is a time and a place for every expression, and that’s why they’re created.
What do you think is going to be the next big thing on the whisky horizon?
I think at the moment, single malts have really taken off for collectors and that will continue to grow, as people are always interested to see how you mature and grow.
Another thing that I think is interesting is the growth in ‘craft distilleries’ and I’m interested to see what happens over the next few years for them and to see how they develop and grow, and what they come up with. I think some of them will be quite innovative.
What’s the one dram you couldn’t live without?
Now this one is tricky, but I think I’d have to say Glen Grant 10 Year Old. The build-up of it, the complexity, the balance of aroma and flavour that you get from it – I always class it as the father of The Glen Grant expressions!
Many thanks to Dennis Malcolm. Who will be our next Whisky Insider? Click back soon to find out!