William Grant was born on December 19, 1839, at his father's home in Dufftown. At the age of seven, he started herding cattle on a farm on the upper Deffren River. He apprenticed as a shoemaker, then a clerk, and in 1866 became a bookkeeper at the Mortlach distillery. There, he was appointed as a clerk, then a manager, and studied the distilling trade.
About 20 years later, William Grant quit his job at the Mortlach winery to buy a piece of land near Balvenie Castle. He then drew up plans for his winery and laid the cornerstone in the fall of 1886. William remained active in the company until his death in 1923 at the age of 83.
In early 1892, work began on the conversion of an 18th-century mansion (Balvenie New House) into a winery. The building took 15 months to complete, and on May 1, 1893, the Balvenie Distillery conducted its first distillation. Balvenie Master Malt Master David Stewart MBE is one of the most experienced professionals in the business, having been with William Grant & Sons since 1962. He is probably best known for being the first to create what came to be known as "the wood finishing process," the process by which whisky is matured in one type of cask, such as ex-bourbon casks, and then transferred to a second type casks (such as ex-sherry, port or rum), giving the whisky a deeper and more complex final flavour. He was awarded an MBE by Queen Elizabeth II on 5 July 2016 in recognition of his contribution to the Scotch whisky industry.