This question reminds me of the famous scene from “Swingers” when Jon Favreau’s character orders a Scotch and attempts to sound like he knows what he’s talking about: “I’ll have a Scotch on the rocks, please. Any Scotch will do, as long as it’s not a blend, of course. Single malt, Glenlivet, Glenfiddich perhaps, Glen Galley, any Glen.” The quote is humorous because as anyone trying to get into Scotch knows, there are a lot of them out there with the word Glen in their names. But why?
While I’d love to say that Glen is slang for delicious liquid, or a signifier of quality, as I assume Favreau’s character was thinking, the word Glen is simply Gaelic for “valley.” Many of the greatest Scotch distilleries have taken the names of the valleys in which they are located because those valleys are home to the most vital ingredient that creates great Scotch: fresh, clean water. Glenlivet, for example, simply translates to “the valley of the Livet river.” Seeing as how Scotch is very much a local product, it makes sense that many of these distilleries would name themselves after where they are located. Sorry Jon, it doesn’t mean you are ordering a better Scotch simply because the Scotch has Glen in its name.