Cardow

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

Cardow Distillery, Knockando.

OUR next start in the afternoon was for Cardow, an old established and famous Distillery, situated on the North side of the Spey. On our way we halted for a few minutes at Dail-Uaine, and then commenced our long drive in the opposite direction. The first part of the road skirted Mr. Mackenzie’s farm, we then crossed the Spey by an iron bridge, and in a short time reached the road that leads to Cardow. Our progress from the valley of the Spey was by a gradual ascent through birch plantations, which at times seemed al most to over-hang the river; soon, however, the scene changed and we were driving through a wild and desolate district, which continued until we came to the Distillery.

Cardow is 4½ miles from Carron, which is the nearest railway station. We were very glad to arrive at our destination, the keen mountain air and sharp exercise had given us a mighty appetite, which was soon allayed by the well-known hospitality of Mrs. Cumming, the proprietress of the Distillery. Cardow was established as a licensed Distillery in 1824, previous to which date illicit distillation was carried on both there and in other places in the neighbourhood.

The establishment was originally built on the farm of Cardow, without any title to the buildings, beyond the currency of the lease, which periodically expired at the end of every 19 years. When we saw it, the buildings were of the most straggling and primitive description, and although water power existed, a great part of the work was done by manual labour. It is wonderful how long this state of things continued, considering the successful business that was carried on for so many years. Previous to the time of our visit a feu had been obtained to a piece of ground in close proximity to the old work, and an entirely new Distillery had just been built on the most approved plan, and with all the latest improvements and appliances.

The modern Distillery, a handsome pile of buildings, is capable of turning out 60,000 gallons of Whisky annually, and we were informed that the new “make” had been submitted to competent judges, who pronounced it to be similar in character to that made at the old Distillery, which is of the thickest and richest description, and admirably adapted for blending purposes. Our guide told us that a single gallon of it is sufficient to cover ten gallons of plain Spirit, and that it commands a high price in the market.

As the old Distillery will shortly be demolished, we need not describe it, but proceed to give a few particulars of the new work. The Malt Barn, which is light and lofty, measures 116½ feet long by 30 feet wide inside walls, and has two Grain Lofts above. Adjoining is the Kiln, 25 feet square, floored with German V wire, and fired with peat. The Mill and the Malt Deposit are both the same size, and measure 32 feet by 25 feet, containing the usual malt rollers and mill machinery, driven by a water-wheel 18 feet in diameter. Adjacent is a building of handsome elevation, which combines a Mash and Still House, measuring 40 feet by 25 feet. The Mash Tun is 12 feet in diameter and 5 feet deep, with the usual stirring gear and draining plates. Under the floor is the Underback, holding 500 gallons, and the Worts are pumped up therefrom to a Miller’s Refrigerator, 25 feet by 12 feet, placed in the Cooling Room. Next door is the Tun Room, an apartment 38 feet long, by 25 feet broad, which contains six Washbacks, each holding 4,000 gallons; and a Wash Charger, in the loft, which holds 3,216 gallons, and commands the Stills. We then returned to the Still House, where there are two old Pot Stills, heated by furnaces. The Wash Still holds 2,010 gallons, and the Spirit Still 1,600 gallons. The Rummagers in the Wash Still are driven by a small water-wheel 4 feet in diameter. Outside of this house there is a cement Worm Tub, 30 feet by 12 feet, fed from springs in the neighbourhood. Off the Still House is the Ball Room, measuring 25 feet long by 15 feet broad, which contains a Low-wines and Feints Receiver and Charger, holding 4,829 gallons, a Spirit Receiver, 1,702 gallons; also a Safe and Sampling Safe. Adjoining is the Racking Store, 25 feet by is feet, wherein is a Vat which holds 500 gallons, and a Cooperage. Across the court there is a handsome Bonded Warehouse of two floors, 120 feet long and 30 feet broad, fitted up with gauntrees in modern style, and well ventilated. The peats used are brought from the Mannoch Hill, three miles distant, and stored in a lofty shed 100 feet long and 30 feet broad; adjoining which are the Coal Deposits, Oil Stores, and Tool Shed. The water is brought from the Mannoch Hill through two miles of pipes into the heart of the Distillery

The Whisky is sold principally in Leith, and the annual output is expected to be about 40,000 gallons. In the old work the annual output was 25,000 gallons.