1956 Bow Butts Bonding Co., Montrose
Montrose seems to be enjoying its regular pour of Glen Mhor, with this document coming up for auction recently. I didn't proactively seek to purchase this document, as it wasn't from the distillery itself, but I was surprised to see the lot finish at £40.99, which does seem excessive. Is there a Glen Mhor premium now attached to anything with the name? Some whisky enthusiasts have speculated to such a phenomenon in recent times, so apologies in advance and I hope the lucky winner is happy with their purchase.
We know that Montrose means J.W. Christieson (Caledonian Bottling Stores), who we identified in a previous bill of sale. While that prior purchase of ten casks seems to relate to the 1954 vintage (numbers 351-360), this document relates to the bonding of another parcel of casks (369-378), and from 1953.
It is a fairly mundane account, but I note the variation in content levels and strengths measured when deposited in the bonders on 13th February 1956.
We can shed some light on the actual bonding building and its operation thanks to this summary from Canmore:
'3-storey, 2-bay x 5-bay gabled rectangular-plan former bonded warehouse, (currently store, 2011). Coursed rubble in Aberdeen bond to E gable, rendered to other elevations. Pair of timber entrance doors to ground at W; no openings to ground at other elevations. Central piended dormers breaking wallhead to N and S elevations.
This former early 19th century bonded warehouse is a good example of a bonded warehouse of this date and is characteristic of the former harbour side character of this area of Montrose and is a significant addition to the streetscape. The pair of barrel vaulted vaults to the ground floor are notable survivors and are a distinctive feature of the building. There are few external openings to the building, characteristic of a bonded warehouse, and this, combined with a lack of decoration, gives the warehouse a severe external appearance. The warehouse is situated close to the harbour in Montrose and is a reminder of the importance of the harbour trade for the prosperity of Montrose.'
The building itself continued to have a purpose in the whisky industry, as revealed in this article from the Courier which summarised the forgotten whisky legacy of the region:
'However, there are other forgotten Angus premises, largely in Montrose, that were linked to whisky. Bow Butts Bond until some years ago housed Taylors the Auctioneers until they moved to new premises in Brent Avenue north of the town. Appropriately, Taylors hold regular whisky auctions.
Bow Butts and nearby Paton’s flax mill (later called Chapel Works) were long used as bonded warehouses and for bottling many well-known drinks, including Morton’s OVD rum. It was also Rutherfords’ manufacturing centre, whose ceramic decanters, usually with pictures of game birds, were renowned throughout Scotland. These can still be found today at bric-a-brac shops and elsewhere, sometimes with their own blended whisky still in them.'
Like buses, we can see a strong connection with Glen Mhor in the 1950s and what was happening with this Montrose based whisky bottling company. It might be worth freeing some of those ceramic whisky blends from their startling hosts. Perhaps more information will come to light in 2023, as further whisky documents from this region become available.
Warehouse image kindly provided by Buildings At Risk circa 2016.