The distillery started with two stills that were replicas of those at Glen Grant, although whether they were replicas of the large or small stills there I don’t know but it would likely be the larger ones if they were building a new distillery for extra capacity. Excise regulations insisted that as it was effectively an extension of Glen Grant the new make had to be received and weighed into casks at Glen Grant’s main complex, and so a ‘whisky pipe’ was installed across the road to pump the spirit up to their filling store.
The operational life of Glen Grant No.2 almost mirrored Ben Riach distillery just 5 miles to the north which also opened in 1898 but very soon closed; and like Ben Riach it was also given new life when it was reopened in 1965, albeit with a new name. The changing fortunes of the industry had once more produced rising demand and Glen Grant again decided to increase capacity. At that time their main complex had no space to redevelop, with their large maltings still in operation on the site that would become the new still house at a later date. They decided to reopen their mothballed No.2 distillery but changes in Excise regulations by that time required that it be licensed and named as a separate distillery and so Caperdonich was chosen.
Caperdonich is an anglicised version of the pronunciation of the Gaelic words for the water source of both distilleries. The Tobar Domhnaich is the well in the grounds behind Glen Grant that provides the pure unpeated water that is essential to the Glen Grant style. Tobar Domhnaich is the spelling recorded on maps from Barnard’s time and Dhomhnaich has also been used as a local spelling. Perhaps because of this variation the name has been interpreted as Sabbath well, deep or water-tight well, secret well and also referred to locally as St Lawrence’s well; Sabbath Well generally seems to be the most common local interpretation.
In 1967 the distillery was expanded with a second pair of stills installed, this time steam heated in the decade before the stills at Glen Grant first were. Along with new washbacks they almost doubled capacity and large control consoles allowed the plant to be automated and run with minimal staff. The distillery was taken over by Seagrams along with Glen Grant in 1978 and continued in operation until 2002 when it was mothballed again, once more like Ben Riach which was by then also owned by Pernod Ricard.
|Caperdonich Distillery once stood here|
|Caperdonich mash tun and washbacks|