Hillside / Glenesk


Hillside distillery also known as Glen Esk was founded in Montrose in 1897 when a former flax mill was converted into a distillery named, wait for it, Highland Esk Distillery.

It was taken over by JF. Caille in 1899 who renamed it North Esk Distillery.

It was closed during WWI and remained closed until 1938 when it was taken over by Assoc. Scottish Distillers and operated until 1964 as a grain distillery called Glen Esk.

In 1954 it was acquired by DCL


1964 Saw Glen Esk transferred to SMD who returned the distillery to producing malt whisky under the name Hillside.

Large drum maltings were installed in 1968 and the distillery was further renovated and enlarged in 1973 and then William Sanderson & Sons acquired the license and then renamed the distillery Glen Esk in 1980.

1985 Saw the distillery mothballed and the license finally cancelled in 1992, an event followed in 1996 by the demolition of the distillery.


Photo by Stanley Howe via Wikimedia Creative Commons License


More great distillery info here, thanks to Malt Madness







Hillside, Rare Malts, 25y 1971 - Sept. 1977, 62% ABV

Bottle No.711

Typical cost of this bottle; to (Now a rarity / collectible)


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Rich golden yellow

Nose: Malty furniture polish abounds here, followed by passion fruit, a little pepperiness and green apple or even pear in the background.

Palate: A really smooth mouth-feel with apricot, peach, wild honey and just a hint of cloves, but I think this will benefit from a few drops of water.

With 4 drops of water: The nose now has lots of grassy hay alongside a vanilla type of woodiness. The palate has much more vanilla, more honey and also some light fruitiness.

With 4 more drops of water: Lots of vanilla and grassiness on the nose. The palate has improved again with more grassiness, wood, vanilla and a hint of banana stem.

Finish: Long and gentle, longer with water.

Overall Impression: Add water, it needs it and improves immensely when you do. Very nice.





Glen Esk


General whisky characteristics: Complex, fresh and usually dry


Duncan Taylor, Glenesk, 26y

Typical cost of this bottle;


Author's note: once again my thanks to Pit Krause (fellow Malt Maniac) for this super sample, a 26y Glenesk from Duncan Taylor. It's rich, dark and obviously heavily sherried. I also believe it's somewhere around 54% ABV.

Glass: Spiegelau

Nose: There's something very slightly pungent in the background. Something a little medicinal or phenolic. But that's only hinted at in the distance. In the fore is a wonderfully rich sherried dram. There's Oak, currants, toasted prunes (can you toast them?) and even a slight hint of rubber.

Palate: Initially silky and rich, turning into a slight burn as the alcohol kicks in. The initial flavour is creamy caramel, but this soon opens into almost everything described in the nose, plus hints of nuts and even a slight suggestion of molasses. This is good, creamy, silky, rich and one for my Christmas list if I can find one!

Finish: Loooooooooooooong, very long.

Overall Impression: An excellent sherried dram which is very civilised, rounded and complex. I like it! Dear Santa .....




Silver Seal, Glen Esk, 30y, 1971-2001, 49% abv

Typical cost of this bottle; Unknown, now a collectible

Dram-atics Live review


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Pale yellow gold

Nose: This is initially quite strange as it's musty but yet very vibrant, in fact it almost demonstrates a light cheesiness, in a good way. This gradually develops a sense of hay and dried grasses with distinct vanilla, to the point of suggesting milk shake.

Palate: The hay, dried grasses and vanilla translate immediately onto the palate along with a hint of light leafiness.

Finish: Long and 'outdoors'.

Overall Impression: This is definitely an open-air or countryside malt as it expounds fresh air, fields and a distinct sense of 'outdoors'. Maybe one for the hip flask on a springtime walk in the hills.








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