The below is taken from The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom by Alfred Barnard first published in 1887.
Glenmavis Distillery, Bathgate, Linlithgowshire.
WE made an early start on Saturday morning for Bathgate. It is a thriving town, about twenty miles from Edinburgh, with a population of about 4,000 inhabitants. The church is a fine structure and is of some historic interest, Malcolm IV presented it, with the surrounding lands, to the monks of Holyrood. The town also lays claim to considerable antiquity. It was given by Robert Bruce to “Walter,” the celebrated high sheriff of Scotland, as the dowry of his daughter, Lady Margery. Walter himself died here. Glenmavis Distillery is built at the root of the little glen, from whence it derives its name, and is adjacent to the beautiful grounds of Balbardie. From any point, the views of the surrounding country are most charming and English-like in their undulations. Above the works the Burn ripples through a little wooded valley, and the plantations extend close to the back of the Distillery. At the time of our visit, the water was falling in such abundance through the conduit, that the overflow formed several miniature waterfalls in its descent to the water-wheel.
Glenmavis is a picturesque and delightfully old-fashioned Distillery. It was founded about the year 1800, and in 1831 came into the occupation of the present proprietor. It is one mile from the railway station, and covers about three acres of ground. At a little elevation on the right is the pretty residence of the Distiller, standing in its own grounds which abut on the Distillery property. The establishment is built in three sections, the central and principal range being the Still House, Mill, Mash House, and Tun Room, all built on the slope of the hill.
We were first conducted to the Barley Lofts, consisting of the two top floors of a three-decker building, 80 feet long and 24 feet wide, the bottom being the Malting Floor, and concreted, with the usual Steep. There are also other four Barley Lofts, a large malting and a Bonded Warehouse in the town of Bathgate. Through a doorway we passed into the Malt Deposit, an apartment 20 feet square, to which is attached the Kiln, a solid stone building 28 feet square, floored with wire cloth and heated by furnaces. Our guide next led the way to the Mill, at the other end of the buildings, half way up the hill.
The dry malt is carted up to the Malt Deposit, which is on the top floor of the mill building, and to reach which we had to climb a rustic outside staircase. Here, the malt is dropped through a Hopper into the Mill below, containing a pair of stones and a set of malt rollers. The ground malt is sent by elevators direct into the Hopper over the Mash-tun, in the adjoining house, a very old-fashioned building, which contains two heaters, copper vessels, heated by steam, holding respectively 3,300 and 3,900 gallons; a circular Mash-tun, 16 feet in diameter and 6 feet deep, with the usual double acting stirring rakes, also the No. 1 Underback, which consists of a shallow open tank 25 feet square, where the worts are drained before running into No. 2 Underback, similarly constructed, of the same dimensions, and placed outside the building. The worts now run by gravitation into the large Fan Cooler, which covers the whole roof of the Tun Room, and from thence descend into the six Washbacks, which are made of timber, and hold 4,400 gallons each. The switching-rods therein are turned by hand.
Through a doorway we descended some steps and found ourselves in a building some 70 feet square, the upper portion of which is devoted to the Wash Charger, &c., and the lower to a Cooperage. Here we observed several men neatly repairing and hooping casks, and others sweetening or purifying them, as it is highly necessary that they should be perfectly sweet before being filled with a delicate spirit like Malt Whisky.
Our intelligent guide, Mr. Joseph Halliday, who has been in the service of the Distiller upwards of thirty years, conducted us to the Still House, a lofty tower-like building. On one side is placed the Intermediate Charger, which commands the Still and holds 1,200 gallons. It receives the wash from the Charger, which is placed in the roof of the Cooperage. In close proximity to this vessel is the Hot feints Charger, &c., over which, on a gallery some 20 feet high, are placed a Cold Feints Receiver, a Spirit Receiver, and a McNaughton’s Refrigerator. But the central figure of all is a handsome Coffey’s Patent Malt Still, erected in the year 1855, the first we had seen, which makes Malt Whisky at the rate of 2,000 gallons every twenty-two hours. In this Still there is no fusel oil, it being all absorbed in the manufacture, and helps not only to mature, but to preserve to the spirit the aroma of the malt.
We then retraced our steps to the higher part of the hill and were shown the Spirit Store, which contains a Spirit Vat, holding 2,011 gallons, in direct communication with the Still House. Here the spirit is racked into casks, weighed and branded by the Excise gentlemen, and sent into the different Warehouses. Following our guide we came to No. 1 Bond, which occupies the basement floor of the Distillery and Excise Offices, thence to three others at different parts of the premises. The whole of these Warehouses, including the one in the town, are capable of holding say 2,000 casks. At the time they contained 1,500 casks of whisky of various ages.
The Draff House, Sludge Tanks, and Yeast House, are under the Mash House and Tun Room. Mr. McNab has about 65 head of cattle, which are fed and fattened on the draff and spent wash.
Adjacent to the works are conveniently arranged cart-sheds, and stabling for seven horses. Sixteen persons are employed in the establishment, and there are usually three Excise Officers, the chief being Mr. Metcalf.
The water used for all purposes in the Distillery comes from the distant hills, and is collected into two reservoirs, one on the top of Castle Hill, the other at Sunnyside. There is also a burn running down Glenmavis. With the exception of the pumps in the Still House, all the motive power is water, driven by an overshot water-wheel.
The Whisky, which is pure Malt, is principally sold in Scotland and England, and shipped to many parts of the Colonies. The annual output is 80,000 gallons.