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Glenesk / Hillside

Glenesk / Hillside

The Glenesk Distillery already had a pretty checkered history up until it was acquired by SMD in 1964. It had been used as a grain distillery for at least a decade until it was converted back to malt distilling by SMD. They changed the name to Hillside and produced malt there until 1985 when the distillery was closed, like so many others were in the 1980s. The distillery had its name converted back to Glenesk sometime around the early eighties. It has failed to find much love with whisky aficionados beyond a purely historical/collectability interest. However, there are some fine drams to be had from the oddball that is Hillside/Glenesk.

Founded: 1897
Stills: 2 Wash 2 Spirit
Water Source: North Esk River
Owners: Diageo

1964-1985: Grassy, Mineraled and Lost.

There are not many bottlings of Glenesk/Hillside. There has been a clutch of single casks from the early 80s by Duncan Taylor that were perhaps the most consistent releases. All were grassy, mineraled, and porridgy affairs, typically unsexy and unusual. This character is pretty typical and does not alter too much between the various bottlings. The best ones were the two official Rare Malts releases, a 25yo 1969 and a 25yo 1971, both were austere, oily, and often quite resinous drams with some odd herbaceous, sooty, minty and oatmeal qualities. Hillside/Glenesk is certainly not a boring or particularly bad whisky it is just quite an unusual distillate, one that is certainly not made anymore. If you are in the mood to try some of Scotland’s more obscure and 'eccentric’ style of malt whisky then you could do a lot worse than Glenesk.