Glengarioch Distillery, Old Meldrum, Aberdeenshire.
IT is a pleasant journey of 18 miles, on the Great North of Scotland Railway, from Aberdeen to Old Meldrum, a place both interesting and historical. The Distillery takes its name from the celebrated valley of the Garioch, called the Granary of Aberdeenshire, which begins at Old Meldrum, and extends for upwards of 20 miles. It is a fertile, highly cultivated, and well sheltered valley, bounded on all sides by a range of hills, which command extensive views of the Foremartine and Buchan districts, and the lofty Bennochie.
On the summit of the Barra Hill, which is 600 feet in height above the sea level, and about one mile from the Glengarioch Distillery, are to be seen the remains of a camp, of circular form, with three ditches, called “Cummins Camp,” which probably belonged to the Danes before the Cummins took possession of it. They were a numerous and warlike race, and originally owned a greater part of the Buchan and surrounding district, and were disaffected to King Robert Bruce, who, after he had fought and won the battle of Inverary, marched his troops against the Cummins, stormed their camp, and put them to flight. It is said that the celebrated “Thomas de Longueville,” the companion of Wallace, was killed in this battle, and in the churchyard there is shown a rough-hewn statue in stone, which is said to be his effigy.
Old Meldrum is a market town, and boasts of a town hall, surmounted with a spire; but its streets, although they contain a number of good houses, are very irregularly built.
The Distillery, the subject of our sketch, was founded in the year 1797, by Ingram, Lamb & Co., and renewed at various times from that date to 1840, when it came into the possession of John Manson & Co., who subsequently sold it to J. F. Thomson & Co., of Leith, the present proprietors. The work is under the practical supervision of Joseph F. Thomson, one of the partners, who resides on the property. It covers one and a half acres of ground, and is situated in the Valley of the Garioch.
The works are enclosed, and consist of two Maltings, fine stone buildings, 100 feet long and 60 feet broad, of two floors each, the top used for storing the barley which is all grown in the neighbourhood, and the ground floors for malting purposes. The Steeps are placed at each end of the Barley Lofts; one of them is composed of concrete, the other iron. Adjoining this department is the Kiln, built of the same materials as the Maltings, floored with perforated iron plates, and heated with peat. From the Kiln you descend a few steps into the Malt Store, which is in direct communication with the Mill, a neat little building, containing a pair of malt rollers. After the malt has been crushed, it is sent up by elevators into the Grist Loft, weighed and measured into bags of five bushels, and delivered through the Mashing Machine into the Mash-tun, which is placed at one end of the Still House. It is a metal vessel, 14 feet in diameter and 3½ feet deep, having the usual stirring gear. The Underback which is sunk into the floor below the Tun, is capable of holding 3,000 gallons. From the Underback the worts are pumped up into the old-fashioned Coolers, which cover the roof of the Tun Room, and have the revolving fans in the centre. On leaving the Coolers, the worts run by gravitation into the five Washbacks each holding 3.000 gallons, and placed in the Tun Room underneath.
The liquor here changes its name, and is called wash, and is now pumped by a double-action pump up to the Wash Charger, a vessel constructed of oak, placed on a gallery in the Charging Room at back of the Still House, so as to command the Stills. The Still House, a newly-erected structure, is of modern arrangement, and contains a Wash Still, holding 1,900 gallons, and a Low-wines Still, holding 1,500 gallons; also the Safe and the usual Receivers. Outside this building is a fine Worm Tub, an oblong vessel, 40 feet long and 5 feet deep, constructed of timber. On the opposite side of the way, adjoining the Maltings, is a capital Spirit Store, containing a Vat holding 1,400 gallons, into which the spirit is pumped from the Receiver by a manual pump.
There are three Bonded Warehouses, which contained about a thousand casks of Whisky, and the firm are now building another new Warehouse for the requirements of their customers. The new building will consist of three floors the top for a Granary, the second a Malting, and the ground floor a Bonded Store. On the premises are conveniently arranged offices for the Distillery and Excise clerks, a private office for the partners, workshops, and general stores. Twelve men are employed on the works, and the peat used in drying the malt is dug in the district. We may also mention that all the machinery and pumps on the premises are driven by an 8-horse power steam engine. The water for mashing, washing, &c., is also heated by steam being ejected into the copper from the boiler, which supplies steam for the engine. The water used comes from the Percock Hill, on the beautiful estate belonging to Meldrum House. It is of fine quality, and most suitable for distillery operations.
The make is pure Malt Whisky, and the annual output is 50,000 gallons. It is sold principally in Edinburgh, Leith, Glasgow and London.