Glen Lossie Distillery, Glenlivet District.
AN agreeable place is Elgin, clean and well built, with an unmistakeable air of antiquity about it, notwithstanding its new buildings and modern Town Hall. The Gordon Arms, where we stayed, is a venerable hotel, and quite in keeping with the appearance of the old cathedral city. It is a substantially built rambling old place and from time to time has been visited by many noble and royal personages, the last being H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh. In all our wanderings we had never slept in better rooms, received more attention, nor been more comfortable. John the waiter anticipated our every want and was quite hurt if we did not bring good appetites to the meals provided.
Before proceeding on our journey to Glen Lossie we drove round by the eastern end of the ecclesiastical city to inspect the ruins of its old cathedral, the glory of Elgin and long and justly styled “The Lanthorn of the North.” The objects most conspicuous on our way were the Hill of Cullen, which rises from the plain, and forms a landmark to mariners, and the hills which enclose the Valley of Rothes, whose beautiful grassy slopes afford excellent sheep pasture.
The Distillery takes its name from the Lossie, which issues from a small loch in the parish of Dallas, and runs a course of 26 miles to the Moray Firth. This beautiful river winds along the town of Elgin where it is crossed by three bridges, and after running through well-cultivated fields and fertile pastures falls into the sea at Lossiemouth, six miles below Elgin, the port of that town.
The Establishment, which covers three acres of ground, is four miles from Elgin, and was built by and under the supervision of Mr. Duff, from his own plans. It stands at the foot of a fir-clad hill and consists of a double oblong range of buildings, and with the exception of the Distilling House (which is built of stone) is constructed entirely with cement, which, under the sunlight, as we descended the hill, looked beautifully white and clean. The work is carried on entirely by water power and gravitation. The Reservoir is about 200 yards distant and is supplied with water from the Mannoch Hills. There is also the Creich Spring in the hill, a quarter of a mile distant, which is brought in a conduit to a large covered cistern sunk into the sides of the hill, near the large water-wheel, which latter is fed by a lead from the Reservoir and does all the driving required.
After putting up our horse, Mr. Ross, the manager, conducted us through the Distillery, and first led us by a raised road which is some 20 feet from the level, leading round to the back of the Granaries, and by which the barley is carted to the doors of the Barley Lofts. We first entered the No. 1 Barn which is the top floor of the building, 123 feet long by 54 feet broad, divided in the centre. At the end there is a large Steep sunk into the floor, at the bottom of which are sluices to let out the wet barley onto the floor below. It is capable of wetting 50 quarters at one time. To reach the Malt Barns beneath, we retraced our steps to the front of the establishment and ascended a stair. Like the floor above, they are divided, but cover a larger area, one of them being 135 feet and the other 108 feet long. From these Barns we visited the Kiln which is on the same level, and forms the gable of the first range of buildings. It is 26 feet square, floored with iron plates, and heated with peat brought from the Mannoch Hills, five miles distant, and shut off from the adjoining department by a pair of stout iron doors. Crossing the floor of the Kiln we emerged through the doorway into the Malt Deposit, a fine square chamber at the end of which is placed the Malt Hopper. Descending a steep flight of steps we reached the Mill Room below, which contains the usual malt rollers and machinery for crushing the malt. A few steps lower down brought us to the Mash House, a clean and lofty building containing an old-fashioned timber Mash Tun, 13 feet in diameter and 5 feet deep. As the Grist falls from the Mill Hopper it is directed into a Steel’s Mashing Machine, over the Tun, which thoroughly mixes the pulverised malt with the hot water before it falls into the vessel. The Mash Tun is the only vessel in the Mash House except the Refrigerators, one of which was made by Morton and the other by Henderson. The Worts run by gravitation from the Tun into the Underback, a circular iron vessel placed under the floor of the next house. Our guide now led the way up to the Tun Room, to reach which we passed through the Still House and ascended a staircase. It is a large house, 80 feet long, and has a platform all round. It contains six Washbacks, each holding 3,000 gallons, and a Wash Charger, a timber vessel of similar capacity.
After inspecting this place we returned to the Still House, a spacious building (with concreted floor) which communicates with all the principal departments in the Distillery, and where, as in the Tun Room, neatness and order are everywhere remarkable. Our attention was first directed to the two large heating coppers, each holding 2,000 gallons, placed on the left of the doorway, which supply the hot water to the Mash-tun, and afterwards to the two handsome Old Pot Stills, both heated by furnaces. The Wash Still holds 1,765 and the Spirit Still 1,648 gallons. Placed near these vessels there is a Low-wines and Feints Receiver, and a Spirit Receiver, a safe and sampling safe, &c. Following our guide we now returned to the courtyard and visited the Spirit Store, wherein is a Vat of 1,200 gallons content; then to the Racking Store, and afterwards to the five Warehouses, which are all built on a terrace above the level of the roadway and form a handsome group of buildings, together they held 4,000 casks of Whisky at the time of our visit. In close proximity there is a capital Cooperage and Cask Shed, also large peat stores, stacked away for winter’s use. We next proceeded to the Offices of the Distillery and Excise, both of which are conveniently arranged; afterwards we crossed the public road to the neat farm-steading, where Mr. Duff has 50 head of cattle which are fattened on the draff and spent-wash of the Distillery. On the bank above the works there is a pretty villa, occupied by Mr. Jones, the principal Excise officer. The employees on the Farm and Distillery, numbering twenty, have dwellings provided for them in the little hamlet opposite.
The Whisky is Highland Malt, and the annual output is 90,000 gallons.
Mr. John Hopkins is a partner in the Distillery, and the firm of John Hopkins & Co., London and Glasgow, have the sole sale of the make.