Barnard mentions the view from a range of hills not far from the distillery with Sutherland,
|View north from Califer Viewpoint|
Just to the right of
Glenburgie distillery was one of the smallest in
Barnard describes the distillery as very ancient having been founded in 1810 and “about as old fashioned as it is possible to conceive”. He also records it as working steadily for over seventy years but other records show it as being silent for most of the 1870s and it is marked as disused on a map from 1874. It was originally founded as Kilnflat Distillery but perhaps due to the Excise Act of 1823 an alternative date of 1829 is also recorded as the official start of licensed production, by then known as Glenburgie-Glenlivet according to some sources, others have the Kilnflat name continuing until 1870 and re-opening as Glenburgie in 1878. A plaque outside the original Customs House records a build date of 1810, but was this based on Barnard’s record or from some other documentation of its origins?
He also relates the founder of the distillery as “the grandfather of the celebrated surgeon, Dr. Liston Paul, of
The origin of the name Burgie is unclear although it may be from older words such as Burg or Borg meaning castle or fort. There are a number of ruins of old castles on the slopes below Burgie Hill but of particular note is
|Burgie Burn flows past south end of the distillery|
The 1874 map shows the distillery as the relatively small buildings that Barnard witnessed a decade later, sitting beside larger buildings named as Kilnflat. Any changes between the uses of the various buildings in the mid 19th century are now unclear. Barnard notes 3 new warehouses on the site “and in proportion to the size of the works the Warehouse accommodation is extensive”. By 1905 a map shows the Glenburgie Distillery as a much larger operation that extended westward and which dwarfs the Kilnflat buildings which were by then partly demolished. Perhaps they were gearing up for expansion when Barnard observed those new warehouses?
The owners were a local company Alexander Fraser & Co who oversaw that later expansion but went into receivership in the 1920s and the distillery was then closed from 1927-35. Canadian Company Hiram Walker took over and restarted production in 1936, continuing until they were bought by Allied Lyons in 1987 and eventually into current owners Chivas Brothers/Pernod Ricard in 2005. Two major changes during this time are worth noting.
The first was the installation of two Lomond Stills in 1958. This type of still had been developed by Hiram Walker and first installed at their Inverleven plant in Dumbarton in 1956. We have seen them before at Bruichladdich and Scapa but Glenburgie was the first distillery to receive a pair of Lomond stills, wash and spirit working in tandem. These sat alongside two existing traditional pot stills and the whisky produced from the new stills was known as Glencraig to distinguish it, named after Willie Craig who was one of their Production Directors.
Glencraig spirit was so different that it ran through an entirely separate spirit safe and receivers before being casked. It also seems that the original experimental still from Inverleven was transferred to Glenburgie at first, but when the new pair of full size stills followed in 1958 the original one was moved to Scapa where it was installed in 1959. Some of the dates and details about the movement of these stills are a bit sketchy though and sources vary.
The four stills from the previous building were maintained and Chivas have invested further in the distillery with two further stills installed in 2006 as demand for Ballantine’s increased. There are now 12 stainless steel washbacks at 23,500 litres each and a large full lauter tun taking an 8 tonne mash and running four waters through. Production is now at 7 days a week.
|Glenburgie Customs House|
The distillery is not open to the public and the recent details included here are from the Malt Whisky Yearbook and Udo. Additional details about the Lomond stills are from Malt Madness and the SMWS website.