Dean

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

Dean Distillery, Edinburgh.

YESTERDAY we explored the old Town, this morning we did Princes Street, the squares and public gardens, finishing up the afternoon by visiting the Dean Distillery. It is about 109 yards from Randolph Crescent, and 11 miles from the Waverley Station. The Dean Bridge, after which the Distillery is named, spans the ravine of the water of Leith, and was built after designs by Telford. It is 447 feet long, 39 feet wide and 106 feet high, and consists of four arches, 96 feet in span. This bridge commands a superb view down the Valley of Fifeshire, and the prospect to the east is most picturesque and romantic. Beneath us is seen the water of Leith rolling over deep beds of shelving rock, its banks for a considerable distance overhung with woods and terraces. At the bottom of the ravine is St. Bernard’s Well, covered by an open structure, erected in 1790 by Lord Gardenstone. It is in the form of a Doric Temple, and composed of a rude basement, from which arise a number of columns that support a canopy under which is a statue of the goddess Hygeia. St. Bernard’s is a medicinal spring of similar quality and property as the springs of Moffat and Harrogate, and is held in high repute for its curative powers.

The Distillery is on the western side, almost under one of the arches of Dean Bridge; to reach it we descended the face of a steep hill, and in ten minutes found ourselves in front of a range of buildings erected on the solid rock, rising abruptly from the water of Leith.

The works, which were formerly corn mills, are of ancient date; as we discovered, from a charter in the archives of the city, that David I. conferred them on the Canons of Holyrood, but later on, in the seventeenth century, they came into possession of the Edinburgh Bakers’ Corporation, an old-fashioned Guild enjoying special privileges. In the year 1881 the premises came into the possession of Mr. Johnstone, who converted them into a Distillery.

Mr. W. McConnachie, the manager, conducted us through the works, which cover 1½ acres of ground, and explained the arrangements. The Barley lofts are 140 feet long and 30 feet broad, and there are five Malting Floors of the same dimensions. Adjacent is the Kiln, 35 feet square, floored with perforated tiles, which communicates with the Malt Deposit, a lofty building, holding 18,000 quarters of malt. We ascended a circular stone staircase, and entered first the Mill Buildings, which are thus arranged - the top floor is occupied by the Mill, which consists of a pair of metal rollers for crushing the malt; the next floor below is the Grist Loft, and below this is the Mash House, and adjoining the Tun Room, over which are two very large water Cisterns, holding 6,000 gallons. The Mash Tun is 20 feet in diameter, and 6 feet deep, possessing the usual stirring rakes. The two Brewing Tanks have each a capacity of 5,000 gallons, and the Underback is on the same level in the next buildings. In the Back Room we observed five handsome Washbacks, each holding 9,000 gallons the Wash Charger, which holds 7,000 gallons, is fixed on a gallery over the Stills. It will, therefore, be noticed that all the work in this establishment is carried on by gravitation. We were next conducted to the Still House, which contains two old Pot Stills, viz., a Wash Still, holding 4,789 gallons, and a Spirit Still, 3,004 gallons, two Low-wines and Feints Chargers, and one Spirit Receiver. The Running Room is also on the same level, and contains, besides the Safe, a Morton’s Refrigerator and two patent Condensers.

The Spirit Store is next door to the last described places, and contains a Vat holding 2,600 gallons. We then retraced our steps and came to the Engine House, which contains a 15 horse-power Engine, centrifugal Pump for the wash and a steam Boiler, 28 feet long and 6 feet in diameter. The chimney stack is on the other side of the river, and the flue is carried across the stream on a bridge exactly over the waterfall. Still following our polite guide, we entered seven Bonded Warehouses, all built in the solid rock, wherein were 2,500 casks of Whisky, of various ages. Most of these Warehouses are two deckers, and all are very dry. Adjacent are a small Cooperage, Offices, Stables, Peat Sheds, and Clerks’ Office. The city water, which is of excellent quality, is used for every purpose, even cooling.

The Whisky is pure Malt, and the average annual output is about 73,000 gallons; the Whisky is sold principally in the district and the North of England. The chief Excise officer is Mr. J. M. Brewster.

Before returning to the “Balmoral” we paid a visit to the imposing monument erected to the memory of Sir Walter Scott. It is built in Princes Street, opposite St. David Street, and the design was furnished by a humble selftaught artist, George Mickle Kemp, who unfortunately was drowned in the canal during the course of its erection. It is an open monumental spire of Gothic architecture, and consists of a platform on the top of a flight of steps, which supports a pedestal on which is placed a statue of the illustrious Scotch man, sculptured by John Steele, from a block of white Carrara marble. The minstrel is represented in a sitting posture, with his favourite dog Maida lying at his feet. The height of this magnificent monument is 200½ feet from the level of Princes Street, and the top gallery is reached by a flight of 287 steps, from whence we obtained an exceeding fine view of the city and surrounding country.