Glen Albyn Distillery


This is arguably the pick of the bunch of photographs featured in the Old Inverness In Pictures publication from the Inverness Field Club. We've already showcased the other Glen Albyn photographs included that featured a kiln and filling station. Published in the 1970s it covers the history of Inverness through vintage photography. All of the Glen Albyn photographs were provided by Mackinlay & Birnie, the then owners of the distillery. Reading between the lines of the publication, it took a while to come to fruition, so it might have been the case that the photographs were provided when they were in ownership, but come the actual date of publication (post-1972), DCL were in charge and Mackinlay & Birnie were no more.

The original caption reads:

'The Glen Albyn reflected in the water of the Muirtown Basin.'

Not many photographs of Glen Albyn exist and this is one of the few that I've seen that gives us a perspective of the waterfront presence of the distillery and its size - it dwarfed the nearby Glen Mhor distillery and was a much bigger site for warehousing and floor malting. You can appreciate the site of the size from the 1926-1950's image in our photograph section.

Through my Glen Mhor research that Mackinlay & Birnie knew how to publicise their whiskies and distilleries - they were immensely proud of their Highland whiskies. With the Mackinlay's existing during the boom time of blended whiskies and whisky barons, they were well versed in the art of promotion. Part of this was good photography and hiring a local photographer to take various shots of the distilleries during their period of ownership.

Many of these images have been lost, but a handful do survive. From my research, many of these photographs were displayed proudly in the Glen Mhor distillery office, where one of the Birnie family would often be resident. And speaking to a descendant of the family, as a child, he remembers playing in and around the office and how decorative it was. Some images do endure because an employee (either when Glen Mhor was closing for good in 1983, or when DCL took over in 1972) had the wisdom to save the photos that were hanging on the walls, rather than seeing them binned. I suspect it was in the 1980s when the end finally came.

It doesn't seem too much of a leap of faith to picture (sorry) Glen Albyn also receiving the same photography treatment and then these images either being displayed at the distillery, or across the road at Glen Mhor. The truck in the image hints at a similar late 40s, early 50s period. This may be clearer as we unearth any additions to the distillery site that can help identify a timeline. The other 2 images included in the book feature a pre-1950s kiln and the filling station in 1967. The latter seems to late for the image we're discussion here.

The distillery pictured looks to be in production, as it was closed during World War 2, we know from the Timeline that it returned to life in later in 1945, whereas Glen Mhor was granted permission to revive in November 1944, and restarted early in '45. Something else that shouldn't be too hard to pin down through more research.

Interestingly, this photograph does existing within the Diageo Archives, it is labelled as 1970s, but I'm confident it predates this. Excluding the vehicles and overall image, the 'Glen Albyn' writing on the warehouses is distinctly old and other photographs from the 70s onwards show a whitewashed approach, with the distillery name in black.


Popular Posts