Glen Mhor Log Book 25th February 1943
What a remarkable find this logbook has become. This entry, arguably more than any other, underlines what it can tell us and helps to create history as we know it.
In terms of finds, if we were operating a chart system, this would be top 5 without question. While it might even assume the top spot, we still have many pages left to reproduce, debate and publish as part of this project. However, this one is going to take some beating amongst the community of Glen Mhor fanatics, which currently is seeking members after being dormant for too long.
Personally, I can recall reading this for the first time and thinking they did what? Before the excitement of possibilities crept in. I'll let you have that moment as well, and we can dig deeper into this entry afterwards...
'25th February 1943
Glen Albyn Distillery
Depending feints were removed in casks to this distillery (Glen Mhor) on the 19th inst, accompanied by me. No loss in transit took place.
On receipt here the feints were transferred from the casks to the Feints Receiver in my presence.
(a) the quantity advised = 226.3pf
(b) the open recd in?? = 226.3
(c) the quantity in the receiver = 226.9
The directions given on enclos 2, receiver?, have been fully complied with.
Gilbert W. Peterkin, officer.'
This entry is intoxicating in several ways, firstly, it gives us a specific timeframe as to when Glen Albyn closed due to the most severe World War 2 restrictions. With the feints being removed from site on the 19th, this was either the last day of distillation or the day after the last run. The feints would have been quickly removed from site, allowing the distillery to become effectively dry and mothballed. The Exciseman could rest safe in the knowledge, that there was nothing of liquid value in the production area and his focus could be on the secure warehousing.
The 19th was a Friday, so this fits perfectly as production was already limited by the rule of law, and then as a last act, the team removing the remaining feints into casks, for the short trip to Glen Mhor distillery, which is literally just across the road and a couple of hundred yards at most. In doing so, it also confirms Glen Mhor continued for a bit longer, although utilising this method; what would happen to the Mhor feints?
We can only imagine how the remaining distillery team felt shutting down Glen Albyn, removing the last of the feints and rolling this out into the courtyard area. Supervised at every stage by Gilbert W. Peterkin, who seems to have taken the role of exciseman across both distillery sites in this entry. Perhaps Customs & Excise were also the victims of cutbacks and this a theme we'll return to in later entries.
As for Glen Albyn, its workers would be worried if the distillery would return to life once again, and perhaps more concerning, the threat posed by the ongoing war. An appropriate moment to post an image of some Glen Albyn casks being filled...
There is the possibility that the casks were just rolled from one distillery to another. The Excisemen measured in gallons, meaning in litres today, the amount being transferred would have been approximately 1028.78 litres. Barrels and hogsheads would be more plentiful and manoeuvrable than butts. So, depending on the mix, it seems reasonable to assume we're discussing 5-7 casks depending on what they utilised.
Without question, the most amazing aspect of this entry is the depositing of feints into the Glen Mhor receiver - effectively creating the first hybrid Invernessian malt - now forever known as Almhor, naming rights assumed by myself given my Attenborough-like discovery. The feints would have been utilised by Glen Mhor, where distilling ran into March; we have proof of this in a later article.
This raises the question around rules and those that governed distilleries during this era? It was a difficult and unusual time for distillers trying to produce with a changing landscape. I asked Alan Winchester for his thoughts on this entry, including if he had ever seen this practice before? It was clearly approved officially by Customs & Excise and recorded as such, suggesting they could overrule any traditional rules normally followed in the whisky industry.
'Interesting, that would have been allowed by Customs and Excise, l have no record of that in World War 2, however I have seen and knew of feints being removed from a closed silent Distillery to an operational distillery. However, that would probably not be considered nowadays. A good find.'
You certainly know it's a good find when the subject matter is new to Alan. What we may never know is if the next Glen Mhor distillation run was specially highlighted because of this feints addition, and casked as something else, or assigned as Mackinlay blending stock further down the line. If those records exist, I will find them. However, my gut instinct would be that this wasn't an overriding concern and it was business as usual, even with loss of Glen Albyn and Glen Mhor itself just around the corner. What impact feints from another distillery would have to the new make spirit is a whisky unknown. John Birnie would have been very familiar with Glen Albyn, given his previous managerial role, it was not as highly regarded as a single malt by the owners, but still had a character of its own and it was appreciated enough to utilise these remnants in their other distillery.
Nevertheless, what always strikes me during these entries are the people involved and such sad circumstances. And while the possibilities of a unique distillation are extremely exciting and a marriage of convenience - thereby uniting a brother and sister distillery beyond mere location and ownership - we at least have the comfort Glen Albyn would spring to life once again. Whereas those involved in the mothballing and feints transfer must have looked ominously at their own future.
So, while I'm asked on a regular basis about Glen Mhor and if they ran any triple distillation (which I believe I've ruled out through research), I can now provide a more amazing answer, that during the week of the 25th February 1943, a very unique distillate was produced.
This Log Book comes from the Highland Archives Centre (HCA/D31/4/1/25) and is watermarked for its protection. As with any images on this website, please ask first before using and always give credit.