GR Glenury Royal: Gone but Never Forgotten

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It has been 35 years since the Glenury Royal distillery closed their doors, but the distillery's spirit still very much lives on in today's whisky world.

One of the many distilleries that fell victim to the infamous swathe of closures across the Scotch industry in the 1980s, the distillery was permanently shuttered and ceased production in 1985. As such, the malts from Glenury Royal are especially hard to come by.

The Glenury Royal distillery opened in 1825 near Stonehaven in the Highlands whisky region. It assumed its royal prefix thanks to its earliest proprietor, Captain William Barclay; a diverse character he was a member of British Parliament, a gambler, a North-East sporting celebrity (renowned for his wager to walk 1,000 miles in 1,000 hours) and a close friend of royalty. The distillery is one of just three to be granted permission to use the Royal suffix/prefix, with only Royal Lochnagar and Royal Brackla sharing this honour.

A tragic loss to the whisky world, the distillery was demolished in 2000 with a monument of the former distillery’s chimney base and commemorative plaque acting as the only remnants of the bustling distilling activity that once sprawled the site of modern apartments and suburbia now in its place. This is the only physical reminder of the distillery which once carried significant weight in the industry for its production towards blends. Today, we rely on the recollection of distant memories, written missives for the whisky curious and of course the traces of its bottled existence to keep its storied past alive.

Glenury Royal had a reputation for producing exceptional whiskies, prized for a style akin to that typical of the East-coast displaying sumptuous rich and fruity nuances. There’s a lot less of their spirit around in comparison to some other lost distilleries such as the time-honoured Port Ellen, where new releases of their depleting stocks are still announced today. 

In 2003, Diageo released a fifty year old bottling of Glenury Royal paying homage to this distillery’s forgotten legacy. Distilled in 1953, the same year that the distillery was picked up by DCL (now Diageo) and after half a century in cask, just 498 bottles were drawn to celebrate this tragically lost distillery. It is safe to say that this is an incredibly rare whisky and with stocks of Glenury Royal almost exhausted it is only likely to get more so over time. A unique whisky artefact, this bottling explores the history of this long missed Highland malt.

‘Ghost’ distilleries such as Glenury Royal offer whisky lovers and collectors the chance to experience spirits from an altogether different era of whisky production. For many only able to be gazed at from afar, reminders of these whiskies can only be traced down in a sprinkling of bottles on the secondary market.

The 1953 Glenury Royal 50 Year Old makes for a truly historic addition to your whisky collection, chronicling the fascinating story of a distillery that sadly fell by the wayside but luckily for now its legacy can still be enjoyed.