Whiskies a gone-gone

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Whiskies a gone-gone

Postby Toby Dammit » Fri May 26, 2006 12:50 am

Posted in three parts, due to length.

Part 1. Silent, venerable stills.

Ahhh. Single malt Scotch whisky. Like it, love it, or just plain need it or else you'll see bats crawl from small holes in the wall, there's no denying it's power, complexity of taste and noble place in Scottish culture. Indeed, a great malt can convey a whole landscape in a single glass. Glasgow is no exception when it comes to whisky distilling. Sadly this is an industry which, like any other, has suffered it's ups and downs. On this forum quite a few have been noting of late the various stages of decay, destruction and proposed redevelopment of Ballantine's old Dumbarton distillery, but there have been many other Glasgow area stills fallen silent before this one.

Since distilling was for centuries a rather illicit affair due to taxation, “the first” Glasgow distillery is lost in the mists of time, anecdote and too much booze. However, following the 1823 act making legal distilling easier and cheaper, the third ever license to produce whisky was given to John Harvey for Dundashill , and the fourth to one William Menzies, who's premises on Kirk Street (Townhead) had been operating since at least 1786. Both distillery and even the street itself are long gone though.

Another liquid magic maker in the Glasgow area with claims to be “Scotland's oldest” was Littlemill Distillery at Bowling. Continuous production is believed to have been going on at this site since at least 1750, but the buildings visible at the location until fairly recently were from 1817. After producing three styles of whisky, Littlemill, Dunglass and Dumbuck, the stills fell silent in 1989. Various proposals were all put forward for saving the decaying place, including a working museum and yuppie flats, but ended recently in it's sad destruction in the now seemingly inevitable fire.

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Following the Forth and Clyde canal from it's mouth at Bowling towards Falkirk, you eventually pass a Beefeater Restaurant. This is situated in part of what was once the Rosebank Distillery, most of which dates back to 1840. It's owners, United Distillers closed the place in 1993 in the face of a great deal of protest, and ironically announced it's fate just a few days after the BBC's then popular FOOD AND DRINK PROGRAM declared Rosebank's 12 year old their “whisky of the month”, a perfect “beginners” malt, sending sales soaring. I have read in some sources that the stills and other manufacturing equipment are still in place, mothballed, therefor this is one of those lost whiskies which is hoped will rise from the grave one day. What the truth of this is, I can't say.

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Also by the banks of the canal is the Port Dundas grain distillery. It once had a malt whisky producing neighbour, only a quarter of a mile away on the Nollie at 2 Craighall Road, the Dundashill Distillery. Parts of the works here once constituted the highest point in Glasgow. Founded in 1770, this grew to be an enormous facility, the largest “pure malt” producer in Scotland with 12 large stills. Using water from Loch Katrine, the distillers at one point made test batches from the water of the canal itself, which doesn't bare thinking about. Two whisky styles were made, a peated “Highland Malt” and an unpeated “Old Still Malt”. The place closed in 1902, and some of it's equipment was moved to Port Dundas.

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Another long gone palace of drink is the Clydesdale Distillery, formerly on Glasgow Road, Wishaw, set up in 1825 by Lord Belhaven in what was then in the middle of the countryside near an old Roman Road. In it's heyday it employed forty people, and it's four pot stills produced a peated spirit, some of which was aged in Spanish Sherry casks. The business never recovered from one of the industries early blows, the First World War, and ceased production in 1919. The buildings however lingered on until 1988, when they were demolished in the welter of whisky vandalism that occurred in that decade, the last major killer era for so many things Scotch related.

Over in the Gorbals was the Adelphi Distillery, built on the site of an orchard close to the banks of the Clyde in 1826, on Muirhead Street. It produced both grain and malt whiskies, the latter in four pot stills. In 1870 it was re-named the Loch Katrine Adelphi Distillery, after a merger was made with another lost Glasgow dizzy named the Loch Katrine Distillery, once situated in Camlachie (which also operated four stills). The Gorbals facility closed and was mothballed in 1902, but wasn't dismantled until 1981.

Sailing doon the watter, you would once have come across the Yoker Distillery on the North bank of the Clyde, sitting by the Yoker Burn since 1770.

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Owned by the Harvey family who also founded Dundashill, Yoker used grain supplied by that enormous booze factory. It's main business was the production of grain spirit, but it also made malt in small quantaties. Yoker closed in 1927, a bad period for distillers due to the Depression and American Prohibition. It was burned down in the Clydebank Blitz in 1942. Fire, a major scourge of spirit producers the world over, also claimed the Tambowie Distillery in Milngavie in 1914. This small facility made whisky in two pot stills, and was founded in 1825.

In Paisley, the Saucel Distillery once stood on the bank of the Espedaire Burn. It contained eighteen stills, and produced both grain and malt spirits, close to a million gallons of the stuff annually! It closed in 1915 when a fire wiped out it's production facilities. It's near neighbour was the Gleniffer Distillery in Johnstone. Originally called the Glenpatrick by it's founder James Hodge in 1833, it was renamed in 1858. It operated on a small scale, with two pot stills, and closed in 1894.

Does anyone have have any photos or further info on these once busy whisky producers, some of which were still standing into the 1980's (or later, in some cases)? If so...
Last edited by Toby Dammit on Sun May 28, 2006 2:44 pm, edited 10 times in total.
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Whiskies a gone-gone part 2

Postby Toby Dammit » Fri May 26, 2006 12:58 am

Part 2. Short lived malts.

Glasgow can boast of hosting some of the shortest operating distilleries ever, as well as some some of the earliest legal Scotch businesses. Kinclaith Distillery was built in 1957 to produce malt whisky as part of the Strathclyde grain factory, almost all of which was destined for blending. After production ceased in 1975, and the ugly and utilitarian building demolished, some casks were acquired and released by independent bottlers as single malts.
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Meanwhile over in Girvin a similar thing was going on at their grain manufacturers. Ladyburn Distillery , with malt stills was built to produce spirit for Grant's blends in 1966. Ladyburn was designed as ultra-compact, and one man could control the whole process from mashing to distilling. It was closed just 10 years later though, making it the shortest ever producer of malt's in Scottish history. Like Kinclaith, it it can be found in independent bottlings as a single malt, sometimes called Ladyburn, sometimes Girvin.
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It was the same story at Dumbarton, with Ballantine's grain distillery. Inside the complex of their imposing 1930's brick towers by the River Leven, two pot stills were commissioned to produce malt whisky for blending under the Inverleven Distillery name. These stills ceased production in 1992, and again, casks were acquired by independents, and released as a single malt called Ineverleven, or more rarely, Dumbarton. The premises are now being (mostly) demolished and redeveloped.

A final mention must go to yet another short lived “malt 'n grain” distillery, this time Glen Flagler Distillery, built in a former paper mill near the Inver House grain distillery near Airdrie. Confusingly, there were two stills here - one producing Glen Flagler, and another a malt called Killyloch. These operated from 1965 until 1985, when the distilling equipment was dismantled.
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Whiskies a gone-gone part 3

Postby Toby Dammit » Fri May 26, 2006 1:00 am

ImagePart 3. Were the any good?

So what did this stuff taste like, and was it any good? Is it easy to get hold of? Can you, say, pop into the Mountblow Bar on Dumbarton Road and ask for a double Kinclaith, wi' nae ice? (Well, you can, but you'll be wastin' your time.) Was it merely economic forces which brought closure on these places? The answer is a mixed one.

Littlemill is still very widely available as an official release, in a cheery looking, dumpy green bottle, aged just 8 years old (costing around 20 quid). It seems there are still vast stocks of the finished spirit available to independent bottlers too. As for it's taste, it's quite sweet but fiery, like a burny bag of marshmallows. I actually don't mind it, but whisky critic Jim Murray branded it as the bottle to buy as a present for your worst enemy, which was very harsh, I thought. Due to these qualities and it's diminishing reputation, it was never a taken up by blenders in sufficient quantities to keep it going, so in this case it seems perhaps it's failure was of it's own making?

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Rosebank was a completely different matter however. Under the Edinburgh based Distillers Agency, for years it turned out a highly esteemed, triple distilled malt, light and floral in flavor, and much in demand by blenders as well as in it's 8 year and 15 year old single malt forms. Jim Murray rated it in “the top five of all Scotland's malts for it's sheer charm.” Bought by the vast United Distillers conglomerate, they released their own, highly rated 12 year old single malt version of this, as part of their “flora and fauna” series. You can still see bottles of it in the odd pub in Scotland here and there, and it is easily available in specialist whisky shops for about 25-30 quid a bottle. However, United had too many distilleries on it's hands, and being a huge corporation, quality and tradition meant nothing to them. They kept Glenkinchie in Edinburgh, their “other Lowland” distillery, and shut down Rosebank.

Almost none of the malt's produced in partnership with grain distilleries were meant to be bottled as single malts, though some like Glen Flagler were, in limited quantities. Ladyburn was also released as a single malt briefly, but only in the USA. If you can find a bottle of these anywhere outside a specialist auction, then good luck to you. As noted before, remaining stocks were bought up by a number of independent bottlers like Cadenhead, Signatory and Gordon & MacPhail, who have gradually been releasing them onto the market ever since. However, even these stocks are now almost exhausted.

I have never seen a bottle of Kincliath in real life, but they can be bought from on-line dealers, starting at 600 quid a bottle, going up to a grand. Similarly, stocks of Glen Flagler have dried up, but can still be found on-line, starting at £200 going up to £400, and I saw one at this kinda price in the Edradour distillery shop once. Ladyburn still makes the odd new appearance at exhausted ages, but this can't be for much longer. It can still be found in this, or Girvin form, for between 200-500 quid a bottle. Baring in mind that none of these whiskies will actually taste any good, these are crazy prices. Folk are buying them for rarity value alone, as a bit of heritage and an investment, etc. This seems a wee bit sad to me, after all, whisky is the “water of life”, and should be a living, breathing, gluggable thing, and not just a museum piece, or another dreary, tradable commodity. However, being a bit of a collector myself, I should shut up on that score.

One exception to this is Dumbarton's remaining stocks. Inverleven seems to be still quite easily available from specialists whisky shops. I bought one about 5 years ago for just £20. It's also around as a miniature release too, so you can have a taste without spending much dosh. It's a light, delicious malt and without damning it, I'd say it's an ideal whisky for folk who don't usually like whisky. Needless to say though, the more time goes on, the rarer it'll become, stock's 'll run out or age beyond any reasonable release, and it'll go on the crazy prices list.

So that's just a wee taste, anybody any more? To all the lost distilleries of Glasgow, slainte!
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Postby job78989 » Fri May 26, 2006 1:11 am

Fab post TD

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Re: Whiskies a gone-gone

Postby Craig » Fri May 26, 2006 7:54 am

The beefeater restaurant was originally the bonded warehouse for Rosebank Distillery and is on the Camelon side of the canal, the actual distillery lies diagonally across the road and canal on the Falkirk side.

There is no hope that it will rise again as large parts of it have recently been demolished to make way for another development of "luxury flats" with what remains being turned into business units.

More info can be found at:-
http://www.myfuturesinfalkirk.co.uk/the ... ects.htm#5

As a "Camelon boy" i know the area well, i remember being taken on a tour of the distillery with the school before it closed.

I also remember the smell as you walked past on the way into Falkirk, sadly now gone forever i'm afraid.

Craig

Toby Dammit wrote:Posted in three parts, due to length.

Snipped by Craig

Part 1. Silent, venerable stills.


Following the Forth and Clyde canal from it's mouth at Bowling towards Falkirk, you eventually pass a Beefeater Restaurant. This is situated in part of what was once the Rosebank Distillery, most of which dates back to 1840. It's owners, United Distillers closed the place in 1993 in the face of a great deal of protest, and ironically announced it's fate just a few days after the BBC's then popular FOOD AND DRINK PROGRAM declared Rosebank's 12 year old their “whisky of the month”, a perfect “beginners” malt, sending sales soaring. I have read in some sources that the stills and other manufacturing equipment are still in place, mothballed, therefor this is one of those lost whiskies which is hoped will rise from the grave one day. What the truth of this is, I can't say.

Image

Does anyone have have any photos or further info on these once busy whisky producers, some of which were still standing into the 1980's (or later, in some cases)? If so...
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Re: Whiskies a gone-gone

Postby viceroy » Fri May 26, 2006 11:12 am

Toby Dammit wrote:Over in the Gorbals was the Adelphi Distillery, built on the site of an orchard close to the banks of the Clyde in 1826, on Muirhead Street. It produced both grain and malt whiskies, the latter in four pot stills. In 1870 it was re-named the Loch Katrine Adelphi Distillery, after a merger was made with another lost Glasgow dizzy named the Loch Katrine Distillery, once situated in Camlachie (which also operated four stills). The Gorbals facility closed and was mothballed in 1902, but wasn't dismantled until 1981.


In fact Glasgow Central Mosque was put down slap bang on the site of the old Adelphi / Loch Katrine Distillery. Something of an irony don't you think?

I understand there was also a Haghill Distillery, built in Birkenshaw St. around 1837 for J. & W. Stewart. It was originally a brewery apparently and was converted for distilling purposes.
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Postby Toby Dammit » Sat May 27, 2006 1:22 am

Thanks for the updates and further info. In fact, due to Viceroy's post, I've managed to locate a just a "few" more Glasgow district malt distilleries. Most of them never even made it to the end of the 19th century, and are long, LONG lost in the mists of time. Most of them even lack a closing date, they just seem to gradually fade out of recorded history, like spirit from a cask that's left too long.

Some are so vague they just have a rough "Dumbartonshire" record:
Rountree Bank. Dumbartonshire. Founded 1816 by Alexander Crichton.
Lumbrane Distillery. Dumbartonshire. Founded 1825 by Archibald Lindsay.
Kirkintilloch Distillery. Dumbartonshire. Founded 1795 by John Freeland.
Luggieside Distillery. Dunbartonshire.
Holm Distillery. Kirkintilloch, Dunbartonshire. Founded 1828 by David Findlay. Closed 1848.
Bonhill Distillery. Dumbartonshire. Founded 1825 by Joseph McEwan.

Other more specific Dumbarton facilities sharing the fate of Inverleven included:
Rohean Distillery (sounding like a LORD OF THE RINGS location). Dumbarton. Founded 1798 by Humphrey McFarlane.
Dumbarton Distillery. Dumbarton. Founded in 1816 by John Hamilton. Also known as Milton Distillery.
Crossburn Distillery. Dumbarton. Founded 1825 by William Robertson.

As well as the previously noted Paisley still houses, that area also once hosted:
Loanwells Distillery. 11 Well Street, Paisley. Founded 1795 by James McFarlane.
Smith Hills Distillery. Gauze Street, Paisley. Closed 1790.
Lexwell Distillery. Paisley. Founded 1832 by Hugh Barr.
Blackhall Distillery. Paisley. Founded 1780 by Alexander Dewar? Closed 1788?

Then there are the other out of towners:
Bellefield Distillery. Kirkintilloch. Founded 1895 by Bellefield Distillery Co. Closed 1897 (!!)
East Monkland Distillery, Airdire. Founded 1825 by James Finlay.
Balloch Distillery. Founded 1816 by Hugh McIndoe. Closed in 1829.
Airdrie Distillery. Bank Street, Airdrie. Founded in 1793 by James Scouller. Also known as Tobermore Distillery. Closed 1852.

In Greenock, just to confuse things even further were:
Greenock Distillery. Charles Street, Greenock. Founded 1825 by William Alexander. Closed 1828.
Greenock Distillery. Dalrymple Street, Greenock. Founded 1824 by John Dennistoun.
Greenock Distillery. Tobago Street, Greenock. Founded 1795 by James Blair. A former brewery, turned into a distillery in 1824. Alfred Barnard, in his 1885 visit, reports it produced a triple distilled spirit, with an annual output of 130,000 gallons. It closed in 1915.

In Glasgow itself were:
Woodfoot Distillery. Govan Street, Glasgow. Founded 1844 by J.W. Hedderwick.
Wellfield Distillery. In Anderson. Founded 1830 by James Drysdale. Also known as Anderston Distillery.
Tradeston Distillery. Glasgow. Founded 1826 by John Robertson.
Rutherglen Bridge Distillery. Glasgow. Founded 1817 by George Brown. Closed in 1823.
Rockvilla Distillery. Glasgow. Founded 1814 by Dawson & Mitchell
Provanmill Distillery. Millerston, Glasgow. Founded 1815, the year of the Battle of Waterloo. Also known as Mile End Distillery and Milltown Distillery. Mothballed in 1929, but not dismantled until 1953.
Duntiblae Distillery. Also known as Waterside Distillery. Founded 1795 by James Andrew.
Kennyhill Distillery. Glasgow. Founded 1827 by Walter Stewart Jr. Closed in 1866.
Haghill Distillery. Glasgow. Founded 1837 by John Stewart. Closed 1851.
Gorbals Distillery. Kirk Street. Also called Kirk Street Distillery, as mentioned in my first post. Finally managed to find a name for the place.
Garnet Well Distillery. Cowcaddens. Founded in 1825 by William Miller.
Burnside Distillery. Blackquarry, Cowcaddens. Founded 1824 by John Gilfillan.
Finnieston Distillery. Glasgow. Founded 1824 by Ebenezer Connal, wot a Victorian name.
Dobhillock Distillery. Glasgow. Founded by John Russell. Closed 1788.
Dobbies Loan Distillery. Founded 1825 by Thomas Roger. Closed 1830. My nomination for the "wost distillery name ever".
Calton Distillery. Glasgow. Founded 1783 by James Aitken. Closed 1843.
Brownfield Distillery. Glasgow. Founded 1816 by Gilbert Fleck.
Albion Place Distillery. Founded 1817 by William Wilson. Closed 1819! Was this actually the shortest running distillery ever?
Bridgeton Distillery. Glasgow. Founded in 1816 by James Walker. Also known as Brigton Distillery and Hopewell Distillery.
Barrowfield Distillery. Calton, Glasgow. Founded by John Cairnie. Closed 1847.

After checking out that lot, I need a drink!
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Postby viceroy » Sat May 27, 2006 11:39 am

Toby Dammit wrote:After checking out that lot, I need a drink!


I should certainly think so. Hope you enjoyed it.

Where on earth did you dig up all this stuff?
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Postby job78989 » Sat May 27, 2006 12:42 pm

That a real cool piece of work TD, well done.

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Postby Toby Dammit » Sun May 28, 2006 2:42 pm

viceroy wrote:Where on earth did you dig up all this stuff?


The first three posts mostley from various whisky books I own. The last post was through the wonders of Google, and scouring

http://www.whiskyportal.com/indexuk.asp

for a loooooooong time.

I found some more snippets of info last night, which I've added to some of the above posts.

ETA: Regarding Rosebank, I've just noticed that one of the Govenment Excise men assigned to that distilley at the time of Alfred Barnard's 1885 visit was a one Mr. William Bastard.
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Postby ninatoo » Fri Feb 02, 2007 11:00 am

Hi Toby,

I was just googling distilleries and this post came up in the search so I was pleased I was already a member here and that you had some information about Paisley Distillers. My ggggg grandfather John Easton was a distiller in 1777 when one of his sons was born and was later noted as a maltster and a brewer on various other records.

From your notes I can imagine my ggggg grandfather worked at Smith Hills Distillery, but note that it closed in 1790. So he could have moved on to Blackhall Distillery as it was founded in 1780. Or gone into brewing ale (although of course I know malt whisky exists).

It is marvellous to think that I have possible names for his place of work, (although I will never know for sure) so a BIG thank you for all your research! Did you ever come across the name Adam in all your research (his father in law) as there seemed to be a lot of spirit dealers with this name.

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Postby Toby Dammit » Wed Feb 14, 2007 1:52 pm

ninatoo wrote:Did you ever come across the name Adam in all your research (his father in law) as there seemed to be a lot of spirit dealers with this name.


Oops. Hadn't spotted that this thread had popped back up near the top again. Thank's for reading Ninatoo. I'm afraid I posted every bit of info I was able to discover in my previous posts. There is surprisingly little stuff available on vanished distilleries on the internet, even if they only closed in the 1980's. Don't remember coming accross the name you mentioned, but I was searching for place names rather than personalities.

This book looks interesting though:

http://www.nwp.co.uk/cgi-bin/WebObjects ... 189778497X

I took some snaps of the whoful state of Littlemill back in September, and keep meaning to post one of them, but they're on neg, and I'm being very lazy about getting it onto disc.

ETA: thanks for the Gartloch distillery pic, Doonunda, for some reason this didn't make it on to my list over the page. I see according to the Whisky Portal that it was in Chryston, Lanarkshire, founded 1897 by Northern Distillers Ltd, and closed in 1921. I guess the bonded warehouses continued to be used by other distillers?
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Postby Dexter St. Clair » Wed Feb 14, 2007 5:38 pm

doonunda wrote:Gartloch distillery and bonded warehouse around 1980. The warehouse was destroyed by fire during the mid eighties. There was whole community living and working around this area (close by was once garnkirk fireclay). The original housing no longer exists ( my mother was born there and moved to Muirhead shortly after). My grandfather was the night watchman at the whisky bond.

Image


thanks for that Doonunda. i used to take the occasional walk from easterhouse over that direction and years later tried to find it on a map.

You've solved it.
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Re: Whiskies a gone-gone

Postby conn75 » Mon Jan 14, 2008 8:05 pm

Now, this is my kind of thread. I promise to read it all very soon!

I would love to start collecting old/rare malts, but I'm too scared that I'd open them up one night in a fit of drunken madness.

Maybe not a bad thing...
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Re: Whiskies a gone-gone

Postby conn75 » Mon Jan 14, 2008 8:06 pm

*bookmarks thread.
http://www.whiskywhiskywhisky.com
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