The timeline of a distillery is a vital tool; from the beginning to the end, all the bumps in the road and moments to remember. These might be currently lost to time, but Glen Albyn presents a challenge to uncover.
We begin this journey with just a clutch of details and our own experiences. Eager to showcase this unique distillery in a new light.
10th January 1840
The Inverness Courier reports the opening of a new distillery, Glen Albyn, on the site of the former Muirtown Brewery. The founder, Provost James Sutherland, is presented with a service of plate to celebrate his enterprise.
There is also literature to suggest that the site at one time was a maltings.
22nd November 1849
The main buildings are destroyed by fire, at a cost of £4k to £5k.
Rebuilding work is underway.
The distillery is back in production.
Plans and sketches of the building next door to Glen Albyn (also owned by James Sutherland) have been found. These give more foundation to the rumours of a pipe between both buildings.
Hard times fall upon James Sutherland and his assets are seized. Glen Albyn falls silent for over 20 years.
7th October 1857
The distillery equipment at Glen Albyn is sold at auction as detailed in this newspaper article.
Shortly after James Sutherland dies, a pipe is found between the distillery and the next door inn house/hotel that he also owned.
A grain merchant, A.M. Gregory, purchases the site and builds a new distillery to continue the name.
John Birnie takes charge of the Glen Albyn distillery, after spending 8 years at Benrinnes. A former banker, he would be instrumental in creating Glen Mhor. He was also a keen golfer, curler and had a farm at Balnafettack, North West Inverness.
A inscribed pencil is presented to William Grant of the Glenfiddich and Balvenie distilleries with thanks from the staff at Glenalbyn distillery.
Harper's Weekly reports that the site has been expanded with a second range of warehouses.
John Birnie, manager and distiller, credited with turning around Glen Albyn, is refused a shareholding in the distillery and leaves - he returns across the road as co-founder of Glen Mhor distillery.
A still is sold by Glenalbyn to William Grant, providing the first still for Balvenie distillery.
Glen Albyn for the new season of producing whisky, keeps its prices as per 1898.
Mackinlay's & Birnie becomes a private liability company, with John Walker & Sons Ltd. becoming co-shareholders.
27 November 1917
The first intake of US Navy men arrives. 3000 barrels of whisky are transferred to Glen Mhor for safe keeping.
9th February 1918
The military base comes online and starts producing mines. The US National ensign is hoisted for the first time.
17th September 1918
The US Navy base is completely demobilised and turned over to a UK naval officer at 10am.
John Birnie takes up residence in Glen Albyn House after successfully purchasing the distillery with the Mackinlay’s.
1st April 1931
Kenneth Mackenzie of Glen Albyn has a nasty fall at the distillery and is knocked unconscious which makes the local news.
5th September 1932
Glen Albyn is one of seventy-eight distilleries to close due to increase excise duty costs.
Glen Albyn closes due to the Second World War - this was believed to be the official year from publications but we have a more valid date in 1943.
26th June 1942
The Glen Mhor exciseman is promptly called to assist with a fire at Glen Albyn distillery and break the locks.
19th February 1943
Glen Albyn is mothballed due to WW2 restrictions and the remaining feints are rolled across to the Glen Mhor distillery.
22nd June 1943
Lord Woolton visits Glen Albyn distillery to see how it is helping the war effort.
18th February 1944
The Glen Mhor Customs & Excise logbook records wartime damage at Glen Albyn distillery thanks to some bad army driving.
Glen Albyn returns to production.
19th November 1949
Staff and their friends were entertained to a Dinner Party in the Cumming's Hotel. Mr William Birnie, Managing Director, informed the gathering that it was a dual function, first to commemorate the opening of the Saladin Plant at Glen Mhor distillery, and secondly, to commemorate the centenary of Glen Albyn Distillery.
A four-storey warehouse is built for an additional 385,000 of whisky.
Floor malting comes to an end as the Saladin Boxes are installed.
Direct heating of the stills by coal furnaces comes to an end and steam heating is installed.
DCL successfully bid for and purchase Glen Albyn and Glen Mhor.
Scotland's Malt Whiskies was published in this year, and contained a nugget of information regarding the illegal pipe that ran from Glen Albyn to a nearby inn.
23 August 1977
Distillery worker, George Skinner, makes the news for less than positive reasons.
Production for the year is noted to be 330,000 litres, compared to a capacity of 1.25 million.
Glen Albyn is closed as demand for whisky falls.
17th June 1985
Debate continues over the fate of the Glen Albyn site, as reports of vandalism and glue sniffing cause concern amongst local residents.
The distillery is demolished.