Lost in time not in spirit
Brechin (AKA North Port), Glen Albyn, Glenury Royal and Millburn distilleries are now sadly defunct distilleries. The precious liquid from these distilleries is hard to come by and very often the price is prohibitively expensive. What do these distilleries have in common then?
Well, here at Jeffrey st. Whisky & Tobacco we included whisky from those much missed distilleries and put together a tasting
for you to enjoy. This could be your only chance to try these historic and very rare single malts.
Find out more about the lost distilleries below.
Brechin (North Port)
This distillery was started by two entreprenurial brothers in 1820, three years prior to 1823 when the Excise Act was passed. Originally the distillery was called Townhead distillery but was renamed Brechin distillery on the same year the Excise Act was passed.
The distillery continued to operate without issues and it was renamed North Port in 1839. The choice of name came from the local gate ('Port') that once stood very close to the site of the distillery. The owners decided to rename the distillery not to cause confusion with the newly built Glencadam distillery. Its annual capacity was estimated to be 100 thousand gallons per year. It faced difficulties during the Pattison Crisis but kept on distilling until 1914 when it was ordered to stop distilling by the government due to grain shortages during WWI.
DCL purchased the distillery in 1822 and sold it to one of its subsidiaries six years later. From the year it was sold by DCL and until 1948 no distillation took place at Brechin (or should we say north Port distillery?) the buildings were used to house Polish troops during WWII. Once distillation resumed, production continued until 1970 when the distillery was refurbished. Production carried on and in 1983 the distillery was mothballed due to the lack of demand for Scotch whisky around the globe. That closure was permanent and North Port never re opened its doors.
This Inverness distillery operated with some interruptions between 1846 and 1983. It was founded by the Lord Provost of Inverness who ran the distillery for some 6 years. The site where Glen Albyn was erected was supplied by the Caledonian canal and the Highland Railway. The distillery was converted into a flour mill by its founder after just six years. The mill did not succeed and the site was converted into a distillery again in 1884. The then owner of the distillery sold it in 1891 and formed a partnership with famous Leith blender Charles Mackinlay. They built Glen Mhor distillery next to Glen Albyn in 1891
This partnership proved successful and it acquired Glen Albyn in 1920. Both distilleries operated successfully and while Glen Mhor whisky was often sold as a single malt, the bulk of Glen Albyn's production was sold to blenders.
Both distilleries were innovators and pioneered the introduction of Saladin boxes to malt barley on site. The mighty DCL acquired both sites in 1972 but could not keep them open beyond 1983 during the global downturn and lack of demand for Scotch whisky. The equipment at Glen Albyn was removed and taken to a different distillery and the site was eventually demolished. A shopping centre was eventually built where Glen Albyn and Glen Mhor once stood.
Another distillery sadly lost in the 1980's. The origins of this distillery were not recorded accurately so there are conflicting claims as to the precise dates of its foundation. All its known is that the 4th Duke of Gordon built a distillery on or very close to the site of Glenury Royal circa 1820. The distillery was built to eradicate or at least diminish the influence of rogue distillers in the area. That original distillery burned down under mysterious circumstances. Then, in 1825 Captain Robert Barclay built (or rebuilt) what became known as Glenury Royal distillery. This distillery ran into difficulties almost as soon as it started operations. A few weeks after it was opened, a fire destroyed the maltings, kiln and stocks of barley. Two weeks after the fire worker James Clark died in a boiler related accident.
The distillery operated smoothly for the next couple of decades until 1854 when the founder died. The distillery was auctioned and some William Ritchie acquired it. Glenury Royal remained under the ownership of the Ritchies until 1938. The whisky from this distillery sold under the names 'Garron' and 'Downie'. The distillery was sold to the UK arm of National Distillers of America sometime before the outbreak of WWII. The new owners did not produce much liquid at Glenury Royal, it remained shut for the duration of the war and in 1953 it was sold to the mighty DCL. The new owners doubled production capacity and used it in their blends however they could not save this distillery from closure in 1985. These days flats and commercial property stand on the site where once Glenury Royal stood.
Another Inverness distillery that is no longer with us. This distillery was granted permission to distil alcohol between 1805 and 1807 however, rumours have it that illegal distillation was carried out on the same site some years before that. When the distillery started legal production it was called 'Inverness distillery' this name was kept until 1904 when the name was changed to 'Millburn'. The passing of the Excise Act affected the sales of liquid by the owners of the Inverness Distillery who decided to close it down in the 1850's as they found competition to be a bit too tough. The site of the distillery was converted into a flour mill and it remained a mill until the 1870's. By then, whisky was becoming incredibly popular once again, by 1876 the distillery had been reopened and expanded. The distillery operated with no major issues until 1892 when it was sold to the famous Haig brothers.
The Haig duo kept the distillery until the year 1921 when they sold it to Booth's, a London gin distillery. Shortly after the sale, a fire damaged badly the distillery. After costly and arduous refurbishment Millburn distillery resumed operations. In 1937 the mighty DCL purchased Booth's and all of its assets including Millburn distillery. Under the ownership of DCL the distillery produced whisky steadily with just a brief interruption during WWII. Sadly, it too fell victim to the massive restructuring carried out by DCL in the 1980's and the distillery was mothballed in 1985 never to be reopened again. A hotel and restaurant sit on the site of Millburn now, just a chimney remains from this iconic distillery.