That later report was titled “How to Blend Scotch Whisky” the final chapter of which discusses Mackie & Co.’s bonded warehouses in
His report offers some interesting asides about his travel experiences in the decade after his main tour. From previously having mixed views on rail travel, much preferring the open air available from steamships and the box seat of horse drawn coaches, here he relishes in the rush of the train, commenting “who would exchange this luxurious travelling for the coaching days of olden times”. He seems to have gone up in the world a bit since his book was published in 1887, has our Alfred; I wonder if he still remembered to take his hip flask for the journey?
The distillery was founded by Peter Mackie and Alexander Edward, both of whom we have encountered before. Peter was the ‘Restless Peter’ of Lagavulin fame and, more recently on this journey, White Horse whisky which is a blend that included Craigellachie malt. Alexander Edward was a local Laird who would later be involved in the founding of Benromach and Dallas Dhu distilleries on his Sanquhar Estate in Forres around 1898 (he bought the estate in 1896) and other distilleries we will come to later.
|Quaich Bar at Craigellachie Hotel|
|Craigellachie and Speyside Cooperage below Blue Hill|
I was met by the current manager Rob Fullarton who had kindly agreed to let me see inside a distillery that is not open to the public. Rob was engaged with some distillery works when I arrived so I was shown round the facility by Donald Graham whom I had met briefly before when I was at Royal Brackla distillery which is also owned by John Dewar & Sons.
|Craigellachie Distillery from Edward Avenue|
The “imposing three story maltings” were converted into a warehouse in 1968 and subsequently converted into malt storage. The kiln, now disused, is the only building remaining from the original Doig design. Barnard describes it as being rather a handsome object with a “ventilating cupola” and “fitted with all the latest known improvements”. The distillery was built just a year or so after Doig first came up with his now infamous pagoda roof design for Dailuaine distillery and may therefore have been one of the first to benefit from it; the etching in Barnard’s report clearly shows a Doig style pagoda.
I should state here that the etching is rather stylised and done in a way that enhances the rural and more romantic aspects of distilling and the highlands. It suggests that the distillery sits isolated from other buildings and has the River Spey flowing by not far from the end of the warehouses, which was a bit of an exaggeration on both counts. However, the overall layout of the buildings does align with that shown on a map from 1902 so it’s a useful record from long before the current 1960s redevelopment. The etching is also included in the picture framed sign in the Distillery office and shown above.
|Confluence of the River Fiddich and River Spey|
|Hydraulics and drainage underneath Craigellachie Lauter Tun|
|Craigellachie condensing worm|
In the years after Barnard’s visit further developments on site included the construction of a reservoir and filter beds in 1902 after periods of closure due to problems with the water. The Speyside Cooperage was originally established on the south side of the distillery in 1947 and operated there until it moved to larger premises not far up the road in 1992. The site of the old cooperage is now almost inevitably a modern housing development which includes a street called
The distillery was fully taken over by Mackie & Co in 1916. That company changed name to White Horse Distillers in 1924 and were then taken over by DCL in 1927, thereafter through the various guises of that company before being sold to Bacardi in 1998 along with the John Dewar & Sons business and sister distilleries. They have been operating 7 days a week in recent years and producing up to 4m litres p.a., most of it contributing to Dewar’s blends.
|Craigellachie Still House|