Glen Mhor Log Book 29 April 1937
We're continuing to explore the Glen Mhor Log Book (Highland Archives HCA/D31/4/1/25) and the next entry in the log takes us into 1937 and is the last penned by Neil M. Gunn himself who left his role that year to become a full-time writer.
In this entry, Neil records an issue with the Low Wines Still that required further investigation and it is a fascinating insight into the distilling issue and the importance of record keeping; particularly when the possibility of unaccounted spirit is at the heart of the matter.
'Customs & Excise
Glen Mhor Distillery
29 April 1937
I have to report that the percentage of the best change over the attenuation charge at Glen Mhor Distillery last week (30th Prior?) was only 8.3 instead of a seasonal 11 to 13.
I listed spent wines after final change last with little result. In due course the distillers proceeded to change the Low Wines Still with water thereafter removed some of the brickwork from around the still so that the examination be made for leakage. There upon leakage was discovered. The water was emerging freely from a defective rivet in the top seam of the flute plate. The rate of flow was such that, in my opinion, it fully accounts for the low percentage above and I am satisfied that of whatever spirit was lost none went into consumption.
The defective rivet has now been heavily soldered over with lead? on the outside? of the still and so made secure.
Additional entry in margin:
The surgeon (surveyor) should be directed to see that the number of this file is quoted ?? the record of the low attenuation percentage.'
To put this entry and the issue into context, I asked Alan Winchester for his thoughts on it, including the design of old stills and the use of water to find a leak. I'm thankful as always for his input and really bringing these logbook entries to life.
Firstly, an image of the Low Wines Still that was potentially the source of the investigation. Glen Mhor had 2 such stills both listed in our Distillery Info section, the original from the 1890s you can see here.
However, the leak source could well be the 3rd lost still, that you may have seen mentioned in various books, but its actual specifications and shape were unknown. Most only refer to it as being installed in 1925. That is until we identified this image taken in 1946, as being the missing still, which funnily enough features the distinctive presence of William Birnie, who Alan mentions. Then, just a couple of months later, this second image was found from the late 60s:
You'll notice the rivets across the still, with the potential leak being underneath the platform where the bricked area would be. Over to Alan for his thoughts: