Glendronach was founded in 1826 by James Allardice, and almost completely destroyed by fire a decade later. After the rebuild, Allardice – a colourful character – is rumoured to have accidentally ensured the popularity of his whisky in Edinburgh in the 1840s by gifting a quantity of it to some local prostitutes after a failed sales trip to the city.
Following Allardice's death, the distillery was taken over by Walter Scott (a former manager of Teaninich), who ran it until his death in the 1880s. In 1920, the distillery was bought for £9,000 by Charles Grant, whose father had founded Glenfiddich.
The distillery remained the property of the Grant family until 1960, when it was taken over by Teacher's (for which blend the Glendronach malt was already a vital ingredient). The stills were doubled to four in the late 1960s.
Thereafter, a familiar story of consolidation characterises the distillery's history. Teacher's was bought by Allied brewers, which became Allied Domecq , who were bought by Pernod Ricard in 2005. Along the way, Glendronach's floor maltings were shut down in 1996 as the distillery was mothballed. Although the distillery became active again in 2002, the maltings did not. In 2005, one of Pernod's first acts after their takeover was to close the distillery in order to convert some of Scotland's last direct coal-fired stills to indirect steam-heated coils. this means that there are now no distilleries in Scotland using direct coal-fired stills, although the practice is continued at the Yoichi distillery in Japan.
In 2008, Pernod sold GlenDronach to the consortium headed by Billy Walker that had done such a fine job of revitalising Benriach. A quick revamp followed and a relaunched 15 year old and new 18 year old were added to the core range, joining the standard 12 year old and a 33 year old introduced by Pernod in late 2005.
Interestingly, the cask type used at Glendronach has changed in the last few years. Traditionally the majority of the spirit was aged in Oloroso casks, however since the recommencement of production in 2002, bourbon casks have been used, meaning that future releases will have a different flavour profile to the batches being released today. It is believed that the new owners will begin using sherry casks again.