Isla

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

Isla Distillery, Perth.

“What’s to do?Shall we go see the reliques of this town?I pray you let us satisfy our eyesWith the memorials, and the things of fame, That do renown this city."-Twelfth Night.

PERTH which is more a City of the past than the present, is most romantically situated on the banks of the Tay. It was once as famous for its architectural fiches, as it has always been for the unrivalled beauty of its position, and well does it deserve the flattening appellation of the “Fair City.”

On leaving our hotel we crossed the river by the handsome bridge, from the centre of which we obtained a grand prospect of the broad and smiling valley of the Tay, the City of Perth, the rugged chain of the Grampians, and the majestic hill of Kinnoull. It was near the site of this bridge that the Roman army of invasion, under Agricola, stood entranced by the matchless view which so forcibly reminded his tired legionaries of their own sunny Italy that they burst forth with the exclamation “Ecce Tiber! Ecce Campus Martius.”

“’Behold the Tiber !’ the vain Romans cried,Viewing the ample Tay from Baiglie’s side;But where’s the Scot that would the vaunt repay,And hail the puny Tiber for the Tay.”

We found the Distillery, the object of our quest, about 300 yards from the bridge, and planted on the front of a hill facing the Tay. It consists of a series of stone buildings erected round a quadrangle, covering one and a half acres of ground. Under the guidance of the manager we commenced our tour of inspection from the upper roadway at the back of the works, where we found ourselves on a level with the Granary Floors, two in number.

In the floor at the end of each of these, there are circular openings through which the barley is dropped into the Steeps below. Descending a staircase we reached the Malt Barns, the back windows of which look out on the pretty gardens attached to the proprietor’s house. The Steeps are composed of brick and cement, but the floor is made with a composition, which, although hard, is slightly moist, thus enabling the Distiller to malt all the year round. Passing along a narrow passage we ascended by an outside stone staircase to the Kiln Floor, which is composed of perforated sheet iron. The building is 22 feet square; peat only being used in the drying. In the roof there is a capital contrivance, which consists of a “Conductor,” leading into an exhaust fan, which removes the damp from the surface of the malt, on the Kiln Floor. After examining this machine with the deepest interest, we proceeded to inspect the Malt Stores, which consist of three separate enclosed Malt Deposits, where the malt is kept from the air and light as much as possible. From this department we crossed a timber bridge over the quadrangle, into the Mill, which contains a pair of metal rollers and usual machinery; from thence we went through the Grist Loft, where there is a Hopper for feeding a Steel’s Mashing Machine, and also two Heating Tanks, holding together 3,500 gallons.

Afterwards we passed to the Mash House, an apartment 50 feet square, with paved floor. It contains a Mash-tun 13 feet in diameter and 5 feet deep, stirred with oars, and an Underback of similar proportions. Leaving this house for a few minutes we entered the Tun Room, where there are four Washbacks, each with a capacity of 4,000 gallons; and over the roof, a set of open coolers with a revolving fan therein. The worts, before running into these Coolers, pass through a Drum Refrigerator, 1ike those in use at Messrs. Barclay & Perkins’ Brewery. Off the Tun Room we noticed a small chamber, wherein is placed the Wash Charger holding 8,000 gallons.

Retracing our steps we came to the Still House, where there are four Pot Stills, two of them Wash Stills, holding 700 gallons; the others, Spirit Stills, holding 600 and 350 gallons respectively. At the back of these Stills are three Worm Tubs, supplied with water from a small stream, which runs through the Distillery, and is used for no other purpose. The water from the, Tay is used for brewing, and is pumped op from the river to a cistern at the highest point of the works. Following our guide we inspected the Receiver Room, containing a Low-wines Receiver, 500 gallons; feints Receiver, 500 gallons; and a Spirit Receiver, 700 gallons; also the Spirit Safe.

The next place we visited was the Engine Department, where there are two engines, one of two, the other seven-horse power, a steam boiler and the usual pumps. Across the court there is a Spirit Store, with a Vat holding 1,000 gallons, a Cooperage, Excise, and Distillery Offices.

The buildings are lighted by the Bower light, the first we have seen in Scotland, and which is considered to be only second to electric light. We were next conducted over the four Bonded Warehouses, which are spacious and well ventilated, and contained together upwards of 1,000 casks.

The annual output is 30,000 gallons.