Clicky

Glen Mhor

Glen Mhor An online resource for Glen Mhor Distillery, the people and its whisky.

Operating as usual

The next page of the Glen Mhor Log Book, takes us into the silent season of 1937 and 4 requests for work during this per...
23/09/2022

The next page of the Glen Mhor Log Book, takes us into the silent season of 1937 and 4 requests for work during this period of distilling inactivity. A reminder you can see all the pages so far on our dedicated page and also how they slot into the timeline. We are already establishing that the silent season for Glen Mhor was around June and July annually during this period.

https://www.glenmhorwhisky.com/2022/09/glen-mhor-log-book-22nd-june-1937.html

The writing on this page is quite faint, but I have transcribed it to the best of my ability:

'Inverness

Glen Mhor Distillery

22nd June 1937

Sir, I beg to forward application from Messrs Mackinlay & Birnie Ltd for permission during the silent season to:

1. ?? the spirit from cask

2. fill the Spirit Receiver, vat, and Low Wines and Spirit Charger with water from time to time.

3. have the Spirit Store left open for cleaning

4. be permitted to rack in the Spirit Store

The distillery is now silent and all spirits have been removed from the Spirit Store ?? the balance in the ?? cask. The Feints Receiver containing the depending? feints is ??? no feints can be passed to the Spirit Receiver.

During any racking in the Spirit Store the ?? vat will be empty and the water pipe locked in accordance with the 151a Distillers Instructions.

Yours obediently, Gilbert W. Peterkin, officer'

My thanks once again to Alan Winchester for his thoughts on this entry and the silent season:

'The removal of the whisky from the vat would be normal, and filling with water to stop the wood drying out, the water valve was locked, to ensure no water could be added with out Customs and excise knowledge. Interesting that they mention racking off, this could be larger casks filled into a smaller cask, maybe for sale locally, the minimum volume a distillery could sell was 9 gallons, so that could indicate local sales.

The feints locked and account taken of, this would be rechecked on restart, a small loss was often waived by C and E, feints would be left thoroughly secured, feints were are removed if hot work was being carried out in the vicinity.

Yes, this would be about a normal silent season, a silent season can be varied depending on production levels, but at around this time fillings (production) could be picking up, and 6 to 8 weeks would be normal, inland older distilleries would cut their own peats, but we see that they are buying peat from Orkney (Island of Eday) and the Dava.

Still to this day we have a silent period, which allows the statutory checks to be carried out on the plant, servicing of equipment i.e. mills and mash tun gearing etc. Boilers are inspected by a boiler inspector. Silent season would also see the stills inspected for thickness, and this would allow for replacement as well. Much of the production would receive their statutory holidays at this time. Also, as July and August were considered warm months, this would be another reason for having the silent season coincide with this.

In the modern era, the checks are still done but the dates can be staggered as to smooth the workflow.'
From the margin entry, we can see that the request was approved on 23rd June (the very next day) subject to the quoted conditions:

It is also worth mentioning, given the importance of the Exciseman role to each distillery, that this is the first entry that is not penned by Neil M. Gunn. Instead, we have a new representative attached to Glen Mhor (only time will tell if in a permanent or temporary capacity), who I'm confident is a Gilbert W. Peterkin.

To confirm this, I delved into the Inverness Burgh Directory for 1937, which by the way still lists Neil as being in the Excise business, but also a handful of excisemen living and working in Inverness. The match is Gilbert, who is listed as living on Kenneth Street, which joins onto Telford Street, ensuring a brisk walk to the distillery. An important member of the distillery team, it'll be another branch of enquiry to find out more on Gilbert - potentially this is his life here, but I'd need to delve into the census records to confirm.

This Log Book comes from the Highland Archives Centre (HCA/D31/4/1/25) and is watermarked for its protection. As with any images on this website, please ask first before using and always give credit. My thanks to the Centre for their assistance.

The latest Glen Mhor plans article takes us into 1914 and proposed alterations. It promps a deep dive on warehousing in ...
17/09/2022

The latest Glen Mhor plans article takes us into 1914 and proposed alterations. It promps a deep dive on warehousing in general on the site:

https://www.glenmhorwhisky.com/2022/09/1914-proposed-alterations-at-glen-mhor.html

You can read the whole article below, but it is best to check out the website for the more visual version...

Our next instalment of Glen Mhor plans, takes us into 1914 and an application to extend to the existing warehousing. This would, in theory, complete the warehousing as we know it on site, by adding two new identical warehouses to the existing row, that famously backed onto the site of the Caledonia football ground, which you can see in the image below.

In fact, the two 1914 warehouses are in the aforementioned image, starting on the right hand side, and counting towards the left. Early on during this research project, I reached out to the Caley Thistle (as they are known today) forum for their own memories of the old ground and the distillery nearby, which did produce some imaginative examples, such as this one from a member:

'I must confess to having watched quite a few games from the roof of the warehouse of the Glen Mhor distillery in my time and more than once got a ticking off from one of the Caley committee when I decided to go legit and pay my way into Telford Street! Shame on me but I did have a cracking view....'

I believe more images exist thanks to the football ground, but reaching out to the community has underlined that very word; community. Both distilleries and the football ground were at the heart of the Muirtown area and prized by locals. I'm always adding more memories to our Quotes Section, so it is well worth a periodical visit.

The warehouse plans were approved by the Dean Guild of Inverness on 4th May 1914, a time when tensions were running high and the threat of the First World War would soon affect distilleries across the country. Little did they know what awaited the country as a whole, and it seems business was good, as highlighted by Alan Winchester when we were discussing these plans:

'What is interesting about expansion in 1914, the industry had come out of a very quiet 1912, so this shows that Glen Mhor was in good health, showing that Mackinlay's and John Walker were doing well. If these warehouses were built, the maturing stock capacity would be important when the war came along and introduced minimum maturation ages. That's a real bit of history of course when downturn came in 1920s and 1930s, many of the closed sites were used for maturation and malting.'

Alan raises several good points, including the financial stability of the owners and if the warehouses were built in 1914? That's something we can answer for sure as you'll discover in this article. Our map section confirms the warehousing in place by the end of the 1920s, yet the prior map is from 1910, so we cannot pin it down further as of yet. Our definitive photograph section, also highlights a gap around this time. The reason for this I believe, is the advent of the First World War, and in particular, the use of Glen Albyn and Glen Mhor as a military base by the US Navy.

The recent discovery of the Glen Mhor article within the Distilleries of Great Britain and Ireland publication, confirms that not only were the warehouses in place by 1924, they also numbered 9 in total, rather than the 8 you can see, which is something I've explained in that specific article. So, we'll need to step backwards and uncover when these two planned warehouses did arrive, but thanks to this discovery, we understand they were in situ by 1924.

We also know from the publication that the new mash tun was installed shortly before the war. This is before the original documented date of 1925 that appears in other publications, if true then it shows 1914 was a busy year of upgrading Glen Mhor.

So, the US Navy presence might be seen as a hinderance in terms of research, but I view it as an opportunity, because the US military along with the UK government, would have documented both distillery sites with a few transforming these into the necessary resources to build mines.

Thankfully, the US Navy don't disappointment and provide a map that is from 1918. Therefore, these two warehouses would have been in place for at least 4 years, give or take. I believe there is more to come from the military aspect, as my research is going, however given the nature of map, its intend use etc. I do believe it to be 100% accurate for the period. For the record, Glen Mhor's warehousing is believed to have retained its original purpose and kept maturing stock for both Glen Mhor and Glen Albyn. In doing so, this opened up the Albyn site to become 100% devoted to the construction of mines.

I've always thought about the situation once the US Navy departed - a scenario that is outlined in some of our newspaper articles - as the distillery was delayed in returning to production, prompting the owners to seek damages from the UK government and this legal dispute was still ongoing in 1922. But legalities aside, the more physical task of unravelling all the maturing stock back to its rightful owners. Noting that by 1920, Glen Albyn would be purchased by Mackinlay & Birnie.

Clearly, the additional warehouses - despite being approved - were not constructed prior to the war, or during. Backing up this statement is another map from the neighbouring football ground of Caledonia F.C. In June 1920, the football team applied to the Dean Guild of Inverness for permission to build a new stand on the south side of the football ground, in doing so, their site map shows that the warehousing for Glen Mhor has not increased.
As you can see from the warehouse plans so far, there isn't much more that you can bring to the conversation. They are uniform as to what already existed on site already and also appear in our prior warehouse article and handy Distillery Info page that encapsulates all the details we've discovered. But to summarise:

Length: 135 feet 8 inches
Width: 62 feet
Internal floor space: 132 feet (meaning the walls were nearly 2ft thick)
Central support structures: 8
Windows: 2 at either end

What's particularly interesting is whether these plans deal with two or four additional warehouses. I believe due to the colouring used on the two warehouses (on the left) that these are being added to the existing row. We also have the phrase 'proposed alterations' which might relate to an amendment to an existing submission? What we do know is that adding up all the warehouse plans that we have unearthed, if these plans represent warehouses 7 and 8, then we are missing numbers 5 and 6.

Sure, they are identical in dimensions, so it isn't a major loss, but when did these warehouses arrive? From the 1918 naval and 1920 football plans above, warehouses 5-8 have not been constructed and if the 1924 article is to be believed, these four missing warehouses must have been constructed between late 1920 and mid-1924. We also know that an aerial photograph taken on 8th August 1928 confirms all of the warehousing being in place.

There's also the possibility that at the time of the 1924 article being written and published, the warehousing was not finished, and the author has taken liberties to include future upgrades. This is certainly the case with the photograph of the still room that mentions 3 stills, while overlooking the fact that the third still clearly wasn't where it was destined to be situated. A little embellishment could remain a possibility, especially if the alterations were guaranteed.

There is a photograph of the distillery site that is the lead image in the article which is taken from the southern side of the site, looking north. It is an unimaginative angle, as it doesn't allow you to view Glen Mhor in its entirety, only the original #1 warehouse and the tops buildings thereafter. This perspective doesn't allow us to confirm the presence or truancy of the additional warehousing.

Then, we have the mystery of the actual site layout itself which comes with these plans that we've focused on:

This drawing gives prominence to the plans only focusing on two warehouses, interestingly from the positioning, they are the final two that would be constructed at the distillery. The gap beneath is where #5 and #6 would be placed. I'm still open to the fact that the above diagram shows them or not. You can make a strong case for the warehousing being present despite the walls not entirely adjoining on the left hand side. Refer back to an earlier image and you can see #7 and #8 joining onto existing warehousing and not open ground.

In summary, I believe these 1914 plans were not fully implemented until 1920-1924. Several enhancements on site were delayed, not only in 1914 with the advent of the Great War, but those scheduled in 1898 due to a collapse in whisky demand. We are seeing that some of these improvements were drip fed into existence, almost as and when they were possible to introduce. Only through more research and a slice of good luck, will I be able to reveal more specifically when.

My thanks to Rose for working her magic on these photographs. We've watermarked the images from the Highland Archive Centre in Inverness to protect the originals, the plans themselves are referenced as R65 Telford Street - Dean of Guild Plans. As with any images on this website, please ask first before using and always give credit. My thanks to the Centre for their continued assistance.

Aberdeen Press and Journal - Wednesday 27 April 1938We know that John Birnie was a keen golfer and noted locally for bei...
13/09/2022

Aberdeen Press and Journal - Wednesday 27 April 1938

We know that John Birnie was a keen golfer and noted locally for being competitive. So, it is great to have this image with the following quote:

'Northern ex-Provosts at the tee - Mr John Birnie, Inverness (left), and Mr Donald Ross, Tain, who played in the inter-club match at Tain. Mr Birnie's agility and excellent game belies his eighty-four years.'

John's fitness would ensure he lived to see the ripe old age of 92, passing away in February 1946, when he noted to be 'the oldest distiller in Scotland.' While he may have switched his focus to the golf course in later years, he was always a guiding force and would have insight that any distiller would have valued.

His life covered the era of a young industry, with its roots in illicit distilling, into a more acceptable and admired profession. John, being remembered for his role as Provost and charity work for those less fortunate. He is still celebrated to this day with his portrait in the Inverness Town House. A remarkable man and hopefully we can uncover more detail about his life in due course.

By chance, I've been to Tain golf course, which is down by the old kirk. Amazing to think that John made the trip to play from Inverness which would have been more of a trek in the 1930s.

My thanks to Rose for her work with the photograph and making things more palatable.

https://www.glenmhorwhisky.com/2022/09/john-birnie-april-1938.html

This article from the Burlington Free Press in 1952, highlights the existence of two Scottish based whisky bodies with d...
10/09/2022

This article from the Burlington Free Press in 1952, highlights the existence of two Scottish based whisky bodies with differing aspirations and views. The topic of debate is the minimum age of whisky (noted as whiskey in the headline) for certain export markets.

We know the outcome of that debate in hindsight, but in 1952, none other than William Birnie of Glen Albyn and Glen Mhor, was lined up as a spokesman for the Scotch Whisky Association, which was noted to be 'old and 'orthodox' and based in Edinburgh. Whereas the Independent Scotch Whisky Association, was new and based in Glasgow and set up by 40 firms.

For our purposes, it shows the high esteem that William was regarded by his peers, his profile in the Scotch whisky industry through his work at both distilleries and series of statistical publications. On the topic at hand, William made his thoughts clear:

'Whisky under three years old is a sick spirit' said Birnie. 'Sick in spirit and violent in the throat of a man and I personally should welcome legislation requiring five years of aging.'

I wonder how his viewpoint was received, not only by the independent association, but by his own trade representatives? Clearly reducing the minimum age for foreign markets was not starter, but William actually wanted to raise the bar further, which to an industry post-war may have seemed like utter madness.

This viewpoint might explain why during his period at Mackinlay & Birnie, the youngest official single malt released by Glen Mhor was 6 years old. William was not only a man of words, but also it seems, action.

https://www.glenmhorwhisky.com/2022/09/scots-blenders-battle-over-age-of.html

Address

Telford Street
Inverness
IV3 5LD

Alerts

Be the first to know and let us send you an email when Glen Mhor posts news and promotions. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Contact The Business

Send a message to Glen Mhor:

Nearby food & beverage services


Other Food & Beverage in Inverness

Show All

Comments

At last! I'm trying Glen Mhor whisky for the first time!
Not so easy to get a bottle of Glen Mhor these days (at least without selling your kidney), so the whisky festivals for connoisseurs are a good opportunity to grab at least a sample! Here we go!

1978/1989 Glen Mhor, 65,3% ABV, Gordon & MacPhail

N - quite tropical, peaches, pineapple, sweet banana, lemon peel, butter biscuits, toasted crumble. After adding water, it opens beautifully, to the previous notes, comes lichi, a ripe Williams pear.

P - after a small sip, I surrender, I add water, and it was a good decision :) The distillate plays great with water, cherries in liqueur, peaches, biscuits, dried apricots, a bit of white pepper

F - long, lasting, citrusy, slightly oaky

Eventough the high ABV make it kind of inaccessible at first, this distillate merry very well with water, and t reveals what it has to offer. I would love to grab a whole bottle ❤
90-91 Pts.

This appeared in a journal article/dissertation I'm currently perusing from 1969, thought it was worth sharing :-)

An Economic History of The Distilling Industry in Scotland 1750-1914
❤️Congratulations to Lorna and Gavin who were married on Friday at the lovely Glen Mhor

Wishing you both all the best ❤️

x

Other Food & Beverage in Inverness (show all)

Domino's Pizza Inverness Inverness Food & Drink Tours Ltd Marks & Spencer Inverness Eastgate Shopping Centre Forty2 Druid Temple Farm Slimming World Inverness with Meg