Glen Mhor Log Book 4th April 1940

We're well into the war effort, and in this entry, thanks to the insight of Alan Winchester, we can see a direct correlation between government restrictions and distillers.

You'll see from the entry below, that the Excise representative, Gilbert W. Peterkin, is calculating the production so far at the distillery versus what was planned. This gives us a unique sense of what was happening on the ground and the output of the distillery in 1940.

What didn't make sense to me, or at least compute, was the fascination with a third when calculating an aggregate. Surely, if you are talking about a calendar year (whenever it begins and ends) it will always 12 months and thus a quarter. Although, the distilling year traditionally began on the 1st October. The excess production would be charged in addition to the planned revenue, but why this focus on numbers, given we've been able to document several years of logbook entries at Glen Mhor without such insight previously? It has to be war related? 

First, the entry itself.

'Glen Mhor Distillery


4th April 1940


I beg to report that at this distillery the quantity of spirits removed from the store since 1/1/40 is 33,166.90 proof gallons.

The aggregate of the distillery? year is 84,922.50 proof gallons, of which a third is 28,307.50, leaving an excess delivery of 4859.40 proof gallons. 

Yours obediently, 

Gilbert W. Peterkin, officer.'

A gold star to Alan for the answer and underlining what a valuable and unique resource this logbook is:

'This is interesting and it speaks to the chapter Ross Wilson spoke about in his excellent Scotch Its History and Romance about World War 2¹, and the notes speak of the confusion.  

The distilleries were ordered to cut production by one third in 1940, but as the distilleries started the 1940 Season on 1st October 1939, it meant the distilleries could have exceeded the total, so its distilling year versus calendar year, as the pages in Ross Wilson indicate, there will be worse to come, and it's often forgotten how much control was exercised.  

Also, The Association which was still The Whisky Association, it became Scotch Whisky Association later in the war, introduced home rationing in 1940, UK was in the Lend Lease phase, so exports were being encouraged. So, it is fascinating to see the effects being seen at Inverness. Worse is to come.'

If you do have a copy of the book, then pages 76 and 77, discuss the above and widespread confusion, which was subsequently clarified by the government. In fact, there's a whole chapter decided to WW2 and its impact. Here's a brief quote on how Scotch was assisting the war effort:

'Already, then, the Scotch industry was helping win the war on two fronts: by the provision of extra money to the British Treasury by internal taxation, and, more important, by the increased inflow of foreign currency.'

The book goes onto discuss the sheer lengths American importers went to have their supply of Scotch safely on their side of the Atlantic; going so far as to charter and insure vessels for the ocean crossing. Remarkable, and it will be interesting to see what awaits us in the coming pages of the logbook as the war begins to take a firmer grip.

¹The book Alan refers to is long out of print, but do shop around. I've included an Amazon commission link in case copies do appear once again. 

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.