Glen Mhor Distillery Manager Robert Robertson
Researching Glen Mhor has brought many things into a new light. One aspect that I never had considered greatly previously, are the people. The guts and life of the distillery, who toiled to bring us the whisky that continues its legacy.
The co-founders of the Mackinlay's and Birnie's will merit most attention, as will their descendants as the business was a generational enterprise. Yet beyond the boardroom, we also have workers such as Rodney Burtt and also Robert Robertson; who is the focus of today's article.
Like John Birnie, Robertson learned his trade on Speyside and was born in 1866. His father (Robert) was a grocer and mother (Isabella) lived at 22 George Street, Huntly. He had a sister (Elizabeth), as detailed in the 1871 census. Interestingly, in the 1891 census, he appears as a boarder in the Parish of Mortlach near Dufftown, in MacDuff Palace View cottage. Without a doubt, learning and working at one of the greatest distilleries nearby.
As this newspaper article confirms, Robertson left his role as Assistant Brewer at Mortlach distillery on 18th December 1894, to take up the Head Brewer position at the newly built Glen Mhor distillery:
It would prove to be a lifetime role, as Robertson became arguably Glen Mhor's first distillery manager - John Birnie may have filled this role initially, for a brief time - and lived on site until his passing on 12th October 1937 at Glen Albyn house.
His life and that of his family, does seen intertwined with Glen Mhor. I have to thank Ruedi for finding his final resting place and that of his wife via Find A Grave as seen in the lead photograph. Glen Mhor is mentioned (squeezed into one word, perhaps for space?) and highlights his wife also passed away on site, 29 years prior, aged only 42. But let's not dwell on such a sad moment, as we can also track their marriage, which made the press:
We know from his obituary in the Aberdeen Press & Journal a little more about his life, including being a Special Constable and having 4 children. I'm unable to bring you a photograph of him, but this Glen Mhor project has thrown up all manner of finds, so hopefully one day, a descendant will stumble across this entry and provide more detail about this life.
So, we can view Robert Robertson as an important figure in the Glen Mhor legacy. One of the earliest appointments and a significant role. The man that would be trusted by John Birnie (a distiller himself) to run the ship and ensure the quality was maintained. Possibly, the person that distilled the whiskies found underneath the Shackleton hut and much more besides, including a family man, happily living and working on site.