Royal Glenury

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

Royal Glenury Distillery, Stonehaven, Kincardineshire.

WE made a brief halt at Stonehaven to see the Glenury Distillery, and visit the celebrated ruins for which the town is famous. Who has not heard of Dunnottar Castle, which forms one of the most majestic ruins in Scotland. We drove direct to it from the station, and were amply repaid for our trouble. It is situated on the site of a stupendous perpendicular rock, 160 feet high, which projects into the sea, and is al most separated from the land by a deep chasm, forming a natural fosse . The castle consists of a series of stately towers, and other buildings; and before the advent of artillery was quite impregnable. We drove back by way of the town to the Distillery, which is planted on the banks of the Cowie, and takes its name from the Glen-Urie, through which the river passes on its way to the sea. After crossing the Cowie we ascended a gentle acclivity, and reached Glenury by a road cut through the face of a sandy hill, which on one side shelters the establishment.

The situation of the Distillery is most picturesque, the lofty railway viaduct, which crosses the glen, adding beauty to the scene. It is a mile from the town, station, and sea shore. The Works, which cover three and a half acres of ground, consist of several ranges of stone buildings; the central block contains the Distilling and Brewing houses, and the outer ones the Granaries, Maltings, and Warehouses.

The Glenury Distillery was founded about the year 1836 by Captain Barclay, the well known champion pedestrian, who walked a thousand miles in a thousand hours. He carried on a most successful business, and afterwards disposed of it to Mr. William Ritchie, the present proprietor, who has since made many additions and improvements in the place, and increased the annual output considerably.

Mr. John Watt, the manager, first conducted us to the Granaries and maltings which stand in a delightful old-fashioned garden, and in some places the river almost washes the walls. The No. 1 and No. 2 Maltings are neat stone buildings of four flats, two of them appropriated for barley storage, the others for Malting Floors, these last are concreted and have metal Steeps. The No. 3 Granary building is divided from the No. 1 and No. 2 by the Kilns and Excise Offices, and is not quite so lofty, having only three floors, two for barley, and the bottom a Malting Floor with a metal Steep. Served by these Maltings are two Kilns, both connected by an overhead bridge, across which the malt is wheeled, the floors are of wire cloth and the furnaces are fired with peat. On the level of the Kiln Floor is the Malt Deposit, and adjoining is the Mill, above which is the Grist Loft. A water cistern stretches over the pathway from the roof of the Mill House to the Still House, and holds 50,000 gallons of water, which is pumped up from the river. Another bridge forms the communication between the Grist Loft and Mash House, over which the ground malt is conveyed direct into the Tun. Following our guide we entered the Mash House, a spacious apartment containing a metal Mash-tun 17 feet in diameter, possessing the usual stirring gear and draining plates. On a gallery we observed two boiling coppers with a capacity of 6,000 gallons, and sunk into the pavement outside are the two Underbacks. The worts are pumped up to two old-fashioned fan coolers in the roof of the Back House, in which the fans are driven by a water-wheel. Ascending two pairs of stairs we reached the top staging of the Back House, wherein are five Washbacks, each holding 6,000 gallons, switched by water power. This house is 90 feet long and 30 feet wide. We next retraced our steps to the courtyard, and came to the Still House, passing on our way a fine Worts and Wash Pump, driven by water power. This building is 54 feet square, and contains a Wash Charger holding 7,000 gallons, and a Low-wines and Feints Charger 3,000 gallons, both new vessels, and placed on a platform supported by iron pillars. On the floor of the house are two old Pot Stills, one of them a Wash Still, holds 4,000 gallons, the other a Spirit Still of 3,000 gallons, also a Low-wines and Feints Receiver, and Spirit Receiver, the former holding 2,500 gallons, the latter 3,000 gallons, and a Spirit Safe.

Attached to the Spirit Still there is a brass Charging Gauge, an ingenious device for preventing accidents whilst the Still is being charged. The Worm Tub consists of a huge cement tank 80 feet long and 12 feet wide, wherein are laid 900 feet of copper worm; all the water used in the Distillery runs through this receptacle from the aqueduct above, turning a large water-wheel, which drives all the motive power in the place. On leaving the water tank we raid a brief visit to the Spirit Store, containing a vat holding 4,000 gallons, and to the five Warehouses, capable of holding nearly 10,000 casks. There is also a large new warehouse of two stories, in the town, of 120 feet square, in four sections, which contained 350,000 gallons at the time of our visit.

In the Distillery yard there is a Racking Store, also a Cooperage, over which is a carpenter’s shop containing an engine, made by a workman in the place, for driving three turning lathes and two sawing machines; also a joiners’ and engineers’ shop. Home-grown barley only is used; the district being celebrated for the fine quality of the barley. There are three Excise Officers, besides the Supervisor, Mr. H. Thompson. The make is Highland Malt, and the annual output is about 132,000 gallons.