At the start of this research project, what we know about Glen Albyn is very limited. Publications have the same repetitive information, but we want to dig deeper and bring new light to this rarely seem distillery.
Due to an early extensive fire, the original configuration of Glen Albyn is unknown (so far), the second second installation was up for sale in 1857. We'll do our best to see what we can ascertain about this unique and overlooked Invernessian distillery.
Glen Albyn meaning The Great Glen of Albin, or Great Glen, is a reference to the nearby landmark. The meaning was also expressed as Glen Mhor, which was later adopted by the distillery across the road.
Address: Great North Road, Muirtown, Inverness, Inverness-shire, IV3 5LU.
Location: Located next door to Glen Mhor distillery on a site of 7 acres, this location granted immediate access to the Caledonian Canal and the River Ness. Beyond the Muirtown Basin, to the north, was the Moray Firth that leads into the North Sea.
The Muirtown Basin was also served by a railway line with a siding. Telford Road was the forerunner to the A9 of today. The Great North Road ran through Muirtown and further north. Today it is known as the A862.
Overall, Glen Albyn had excellent access to a variety of transportation methods and through our research and documentation, made use of these.
Water source: River Ness used for cooling and processing is the official line.
Engine: noted in 1857 to be a steam engine of 16 horsepower - this was the second iteration of Glen Albyn. A Tangyne steam engine was present at the distillery until the early 1960s.
Grain Sources: we know that in 1966, Glen Albyn was using barley grown from around Cambridge, England. It seems likely that it was using the same resources as Glen Mhor (given the joint ownership from 1920 onwards), so grain would have sourced locally and further afield in England and internationally.
Maltings: traditional floor malting present until 1961 when Saladin Boxes were introduced. These boxes ceased production in 1980 when external maltsters were utilised.
Kiln: drying by peat, coke and coal. Noted dimensions in 1857 to be 367 8-10 by 365 8-10, with an area of 60 81-100 inches - this was the second iteration of Glen Albyn.
Peat Source: from the Dava Moor, replaced by Pitsligo In Aberdeenshire.
Mill: Porteus Mill.
Mash tun: capable of handling 10 ton and without a stirring mechanism, so this had to be done via hand. Made of Scottish Larch.
Washbacks: also made from Scottish Larch with an individual capacity of 21,000 litres.
Yeast strain: Distillers yeast during the DCL era.
Wash still: one. The replacement still (installed in 1850-1852) after the previous devastating fire was noted to be 2000 gallons in 1857 and onion shaped. I expect that this still was an exact replacement of the original version. The next was still is noted to be 8,128 litres and constructed by Fleming, Bennet & McLaren of Glasgow. A later version has the wash still at 13,600 litres. Yet to be confirmed reports that this was replaced with a larger style still in the early 1960s.
Spirit still: one. The replacement still (installed in 1850-1852) after the previous devastating fire was noted to be 2000 gallons in 1857 and onion shaped, possibly these were exact replacements of the originals. The next was still is noted to be 6,819 litres and constructed by Fleming, Bennet & McLaren of Glasgow. A later version of the spirit still was noted to be 11,360 litres. Yet to be confirmed reports that this was replaced with a larger style still in the early 1960s.
Worm tubs: these were shaped like a D with the flat side face down. The expectation of this design was that it allowed the spirit to cool much quicker than the traditional design.
Indirect heating: steam replaced traditional coal burning furnaces in 1964.
Annual production: in 1884 this was believed to be around 75,000 gallons. Post World War 2, output was circa 320,000 gallons although technically it was capable of producing 1,125,000 litres during its final years.
Warehousing: shared with Glen Mhor, site capacity of 60,000 casks. Prior to demolition, 40,000 casks were present before being transferred to nearby distilleries.
In 1957, a new four storey warehouse was constructed and able to hold 385,000 gallons of whisky.
The last manager of Glen Albyn (and jointly of Glen Mhor as well) was Mr Val Ritchie.
1950s-1983 Calum Munro
Commenced production: 1846
Founders: James Sutherland.