Glen Mhor Log Book 23rd March 1946


With the conclusion of World War 2, distilleries were slowly regaining their staff and ability to produce spirit. It was a tentative time of relief and new promise as this entry from March 1946 suggests. 

Our faithful Excise officer, Gilbert W. Peterkin, continues to document all manner of changes and requests at the distillery. This, nearly 80 years later, provides us with new and enhanced insight, not only into Glen Mhor but the Scotch whisky industry as a whole during this relatively overlooked period.

'Honourable Sirs,

To change in practice has been made by the Distiller at this Highland malt pot Distillery, as a result of the Statutory Rules and Orders no. 1588 of 1945.

Brewing and distilling at the same time has not taken place, neither have they worked on Sunday.

Invariably the distiller has given notice to terminate the period after declaring the gravity of the lack filled to back.

No removal of wash to the wash charger, other than for immediate distillation, took place, and no wort was mixed.

The practice of working on self contained weekly periods, with the usual break at the weekends continued. 

The account in the Distillers Warehouse, formerly Spirit Store, was balanced and the stack of spirits taken weekly as formerly. The allowance of 11/2% for loss, calculated on the quantity in casks warehoused after racking plus remnant, if any, in stock cask, was found adequate.

Under the new regulations, revenue security was maintained.

Indulgence granted by B.O. 47551/1923 now becomes obsolete:

"Allowed to convey worts into no's 1-5 washbacks through the wash main on condition -

1. that no wash is removed from washbacks to wash charger during the brewing period, or

2. that suitable cock with fastenings is placed on the wort pipe leading from the refrigerator to the wash main, and that this cock is locked on close fastening when wash is removed to wash charger during brewing period."

This distillery has now ceased work. Mr John Birnie, Managing Director, died last month. The annual meeting of the Company, is to be held in June next, when the whole situation will be reviewed. Until then it is impossible to predict what changes in practice, if any, may take place under new management.

I am, Honourable Sirs, 

Your obedient servant

G.W. Peterkin, Officer

Inverness 2 Station

The Honourable

The Commissioners of

Customs & Excise


Read. The matters raised in this fail are being fully dealt with in amendment to the Distillery instructions now in ??? of preparation.

The surveyor should be directed that the number of this file 25826/17.4.46 is to be recorded locally and quoted when reporting any changes in plant on working methods which are directly out of the new regulations.

SGO A.Mortimore


You'll agree that this is another entry rich in detail and potential areas of question, from the quoted legislation, to the working practices, washbacks and Spirit Store. What we can also take from it is that weekends were still kept free and also the sudden passing of William Birnie was a cause of concern for Gilbert, with an uncertain future in terms of management.

To make some sense of this entry, I asked Alan Winchester for his thoughts which are greatly appreciated and once again, helps bring this logbook entry into new perspective:

'Here we see the practical changes made by the Customs and Excise, after the war, as some distilleries wanted to increase production, the shortage of building materials meant that was impractical and the Ministry would probably not want to grant them for distilling. I expect that you will not see a production increase to pre war volumes, until about 1949.

The commentary from Officer Peterkin, he sounds like an old friend now, is enlightening, as he has been requested to furnishing the working practices of the distillery, as we can see Glen Mhor has not decided to operate the new practices yet, the Customs and Excise, granted the industry to start concurrent brewing and distilling, hence the questions of the period are important as, if I interpret the old practice correctly, the wash had all to be distilled before the next brewing period, (we would term that mashing period). Interesting the lock between the worts cooler and the wash line, this would develop to allow worts to be run at the same time, but of course not out of the same washback in the future. The religious adherence to no Sunday working, indeed John's brother was the longest serving Minister at the "Red Kirk" near Fochabers, indeed my aunt was more proud of him.  

This would probably mean they were not needing two of the (seven) washbacks, so again as production increases, should there be requirement again, also they may have used the wood for the repair of the other washbacks, but that's me speculating.

John's funeral may be beyond the period of them reporting all the mourners, I wondered if any of the Green family attended.

Very interesting and as his son William takes over, they will be facing an industry that will go for growth for the next few decades, but William will warn about over production.'

As Alan rightly points out, William Birnie would soon follow in his father's footsteps after training as an accountant. A skillset that, in time, would prove invaluable as he established his voice in the Scotch whisky industry and warned of the dangers ahead. Such dangers that would prompt the consortium of family members and companies that owned the parent company, to sell both Glen Albyn and Glen Mhor in 1972.

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.