Cambus

The below is taken from The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom by Alfred Barnard first published in 1887.

Cambus Distillery, Clackmannanshire.

WE wish that we were able to present to our readers some few pictures of the lovely scenery through which we were daily passing. Nothing could well exceed the beauty of these Ochil Hills. As we passed in the train from the Bridge of Allan to Cambus, the sun, hitherto obscured, suddenly shone forth, pouring down its golden light upon the scene, bringing out in bold relief each crag and pinnacle, and casting fantastic shadows on the wooded slopes below, relieving the former of their wild ruggedness, and rendering to the latter an air of peaceful repose. For once we could not regret that our locomotion was slow, and that the train stopped at every station, otherwise we might have lost the view of the Wallace Monument, standing on a crag 560 feet above the level of the plain, the Links of the Forth, and the swelling hills each with their rich groupings of scenery, intersected here and there with farmhouses, skirted or enclosed by woods. Just before arriving at the station we crossed the Devon, a river of sparkling beauty immortalized by Burns, which, wending its course through a district most romantic, falls into the Forth hard by the Cambus Distillery.

This Distillery was founded in the year 1806 by John Moubray, grandfather of one of the Directors of the Company. Previous to that date it had been an ancient Mill, some parts of the ruins of which are still to be seen. Originally a small work, it has now grown to enormous dimensions, and in the year 1877 it was, with five others, annexed by the Distillers’ Company, Limited. Since the formation of the Company, this Distillery has been under the management of Mr. Thomas Archibald.

The buildings are spread over fully eight acres of ground, and are everywhere intersected by the railway, with sidings to all the principal Warehouses. Although most of the grain is brought by rail, a large quantity is landed at the public wharf, the magnificent river Forth being within a few yards of the Distillery. The carts from the wharf and the railway wagons drop the grain into a Hopper placed in the centre of the “six foot way,” from whence it is delivered by elevators and screws, the latter running along the roofs of all the buildings to the different Lofts. There are also underground screws connected with the various Grain Stores which return the corn to the elevators.

We first directed our steps to the seven Grain Stores, handsome two-storied buildings, capable of holding 8,000 quarters of grain. At the rear of these buildings are two Corn Kilns, one of which is floored with iron plates, and the other with wire flooring. On our way thither we passed a huge compressed dreg-sediment shed and spent Wash Tank, opening on the public road, where farmers attend daily to fetch it away. The Mill buildings are attached to the Kilns, and contain six pairs of stones. On an upper floor are the Grist Lofts so arranged as to command the Mash Tuns; they are large and commodious buildings. Here also we noticed many hundreds of filled sacks of 168 lbs. weight ready for use. The Grist in this establishment is twice ground, in order to get it fine.

A few steps down brought us into another apartment, where we were shown four Brewing Tanks of immense size, three of wood and the remainder Iron. We then were shown the Mash-house, which contains two Maize Tuns sunk in the floor, timber vessels 20 feet in diameter and 11 feet deep; a circular iron Malt Mash Tun, 27 feet in diameter and 7 feet deep, all having the revolving rakes. Here also is the Underback, which has a capacity of 3,200 gallons. The Worts are here pumped into the Wort Receivers, holding 11,572 gallons; they then pass through the Morton’s Refrigerator and the cooling pipes, which are laid in the bed of the river Devon.

Passing under a covered archway, we next were taken to the Tun Room, a spacious apartment, in which the fumes from the boiling Worts were almost overpowering. Here are seventeen Wash-backs, each with an average capacity of 22,142 gallons. On the top of this building we were shown a Draff Receiver, so arranged that the maize dregs can be drained therein, falling into a second and similar tank, from whence, almost in a dry state, it falls through shoots into railway trucks and farmers’ carts, each standing on Steelyards, where they can weigh the exact quantity wanted. Alongside the Water-wheel House entrance, across the lade, is a large building fitted up with machinery for making German yeast, where about two tons can be produced weekly, but at the time of our visit this department was silent.

On the opposite side of the yard is the No. 1 Still-house, where are the two Wash Chargers, having a capacity of 30,589 gallons and 31,310 gallons respectively. Here also are six powerful pumps, consisting of two water, a wash, hot feints and wash-heater pumps. Our guide pointed out a patent wash-heater, invented by Mr. Moubray, the late proprietor, consisting of a series of zig-zag pipes and worms, fixed in an upright frame, through which the Worts are made hot before passing to the Coffey’s Patent Still. By this patent the power of the Still is increased to the extent of producing one-fourth more gallons of spirits per hour.

No. 2 Still-house contains the Coffey’s Patent Still, for a description of which see the charter on Glenochil Distillery. The Spirit from this Still flows through the Safe at the rate of 250 gallons per hour. The Safe is placed in the Running Room, where also are two Spirit Receivers, one holding 3,020 gallons and the other 1,694. Below the clerk’s office is the Spirit Store, which contains two Vats with a capacity of 6,699 gallons, into which the Spirit flows after passing through the Safe. Adjoining is the Racking Store for blending, a neat building conveniently arranged for the Bonded Stores.

Crossing the yard the Engine-house is reached, where there are four handsome Engines, with a combined horse-power of 105, and six Boilers, 20 feet long by 7 feet in diameter. We next proceeded to inspect the Maltings; those near the wharf are square stone buildings of three floors, the top a Barley-loft, the second a Malting-floor with Steeps, and the basement one of the Bonded Warehouses. The Malt Kiln is on a level with the second flat. It is floored with iron plates, and heated from beneath by two open furnaces. The other Maltings form one of the boundary walls to the Distillery, and are only entered from the main road; enormous buildings 150 feet square, having two Barley-lofts and a Malt-barn, with usual Steep. Adjacent is the Kiln, the same as the one before described.

Distributed about the premises are six Warehouses; one of them, just newly built near the station, covers an acre of ground, and is of two stories elevation. The whole Warehouses contained on the 12th of January, 1886, 17,002 casks, holding 1,365,287 gallons of Whisky of various ages since 1865. These Warehouses are capable of storing 2,000,000 gallons. Like Glenochil, the following trades are represented in the establishment - coppersmiths’, engineers’, and carpenters’ shops, a good cooperage, stables for five horses, and cart sheds. Sixty men are employed upon the premises. Part of the Distillery is new being remodelled, and a new Still House is being built, having as its roof a handsome cast-iron tank, 29 feet by 27 feet by 4 feet deep, carried by eight strong malleable iron rolled girders; the contract has been secured by Mr. R. G. Abercrombie, Broad Street Engine Works, Alloa.

The Brewer and Distiller is Mr. P. Murray, and there are seven Excise officers on the premises, Mr. Maslin being the principal, and George Ferguson, Esq., the supervisor.

The annual output is 900,000 gallons.

The chief driving power is steam, in conjunction with a huge Water Wheel. The two chimney shafts, which can be seen for many miles before you reach Cambus, are 90 and 150 feet high respectively. The beautiful river Devon, before described, supplies all the water used in the Distillery.

Images of Cambus