Glen Mhor Log Book 27th March 1943
In an earlier entry, we were able to pinpoint when the Glen Albyn distillery closed, now sadly, we can do the same for Glen Mhor. The date which will feature in our timeline, is the 26th March 1943, which you'll see below, suggests that it was one of the last to close due to war restrictions. In fact, generally it is believed in some literature¹ that distilling stopped across by October 1942, which isn't entirely the case, as we've proven in Inverness.
For the record, I did try to find out when Millburn shut its doors for WW2 without success. It did change its licensee in 1943, suggesting that it was still in production, at least earlier in the year. Something for the to do list when I start the research for Millburn, as it'll be somewhere.
There is no mention of what happened to any remaining Mhor feints, we can speculate, but there is no way-out as there was for Glen Albyn. Interestingly, a production surplus was permitted, as the Exciseman will have been keeping a close eye on production. The 10-15 casks required (depending on type used) for the excess amount, seems like good management and very thorough work from all involved.
In accordance with your memoranda of 26/8/40 and 10/3/43, I beg to report that production of Plain British Spirits at Glen Mhor Distillery, Inverness, was completed yesterday (26th), and exceeded the permitted quote by 656.6 proof gallons:
Permitted Quota. 64,527.5,
Manufacture definitely ceased yesterday 26th at the close of the 21st period.
Your obedient Servant
G.W. Peterkin, officer
The Chief Inspector
As you've come to expect, I passed on this entry to Alan Winchester for his thoughts, which turned to events and what to expect in the coming years:
'That will be probably Glen Mhor closing for about 2 years. Feints maybe casked off and locked in Duty Free Warehouse. This must have been amongst the last malt distilleries to close.
Also, the U-boat campaigns, as we note William Birnie's brother was killed in this conflict.'
Alan raises a good point, as we know the closures were final in 1943, but we don't know the order or sequence each distillery closed, or whether there was an expected pattern? If there was a more open approach, then it makes sense why Glen Albyn went first, only to be followed by the distillery across the road at a later date.
There is also the previously documented issues when Glen Albyn and Glen Mhor were used as naval bases by the US military in World War One. Prompting court action by the then owners over the delay in returning to production. Perhaps both sites were permitted some allowance to stay open longer on the eve of the WW2 restrictions? Just a thought.
I would also be interested in what the memoranda from earlier in the month actually covered; a reminder that any remaining distilleries were on borrowed time to close? However, I do feel the earlier 1940 memoranda, will be around limitation of production, as this was the year of great confusion and further clarification by the government.
In fact, we know from an earlier entry on 4th April 1940, that production for that distilling year was limited 84,922.50 proof gallons, compared to the quota in 1943 of 64,527.5 gallons. What isn't clear for 1943 is the start date of this measurement, it seems likely that both years were affected by bureaucracy and all we can assume is that Glen Mhor was capable of producing much more. History shows us, until the D.C.L. ownership years, Mackinlay & Birnie kept a tight reign on production and were guided by filling orders and potential trends.
Colonel Llewellen, who was the Minister for Food during this period, announced a new order on 25th September 1944, known as the Potable Spirits (Licensing and Control) Order¹, effectively giving Customs & Excise greater powers for any distilleries that were still producing spirit. If you didn't have a license then such practices were prohibited, and if you did, the Excisemen would play a greater role than traditionally expected. The order also covered pricing and who you could sell whisky to, thereby impacting the mothballed industry across Scotland. With distilleries only able to engage with pre-war customers and thereby a government attempt to prevent opportunists making the most of the situation.
And while you might think, that's the end of the war years for the logbook, nothing could be further for the truth. Entries will continue and shed light on a different existence at a mothballed distillery, starting with our next page, which is a cracker.
¹ Source is Scotch by Ross Wilson (1973)
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.