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Braeval (aka Braes of Glenlivet) was one of a slew of distilleries born out of the slow burning whisky boom that began in the mid-late fifties and ended with the whisky loch of the eighties. Not widely known or available as a single malt, it is one of the lower key blending distilleries on the whisky map. However, unlike many of the other blending beasts built during this frantic era, Braeval (pronounced: BRAY-val) is actually a fine spirit with several excellent examples to be found.
Stills: 2 Wash 4 Spirit
Water Source: Preenie & Kates Well
Capacity: 4 Million Litres
Owners: Pernod Ricard
1974-2002: The Chivas Years.
Braeval was built by Chivas with blending in mind. For many years it served that purpose well. It was further expanded during the first four years of its life until, in 1978, it finally had six stills to play with. Always an image of modern whisky production, it required only one worker to run the whole distillery if necessary.
Bottlings from any era of Braevals life are few and far between, the best were a batch of sherry casks bottled by Signatory in the late nineties from 1979. These were big, dynamic, well balanced drams with a great muscular complexity and can still be found for fair prices if you search around a bit.
2002-Present: The Pernod Ricard Years.
Braeval was eventually sold to Pernod Ricard in 2001, they quickly mothballed it along with several other distilleries that it acquired in the same sale. Thankfully Braeval reopened in 2008 and has been chugging away quite happily since then. It seems unlikely that the new owners will do much with it other than continue to use it as a machine for blend production. Hopefully we will still see a few bottlings from this distillery from time to time. Most bottlings that have arisen are solid drams and some are exceptional so it is worth taking some time to try this often overlooked distillate.