Grand Old Man of Whisky Aberdeen Press & Journal 4th May 1973


Appearing in page 11 of the Aberdeen Press & Journal comes the news that William Birnie, son of John, and a notable figure in whisky, passed away aged 85.

While this is not new to the research, this brief obituary does provide some detail. Firstly, his whisky bible continued to be produced until 1972 at the latest. An annual publication, we do have some early editions in our Document Section, but many years are still missing. 

There is some background on his accountancy career, which explains his statistical nature when compiling the original whisky bible. Drummond Crescent itself is 2 miles south from the Glen Mhor location - further than I anticipated and potentially a recent purchase that reflected moving out of the whisky industry? Today, the address is home to L'Arche Highland who work with people with learning difficulties, their history includes:

L’Arche Highland is 44 years old. It was founded by Therese Vanier, Jean Vanier’s sister, in 1975 with a large shared house called Braerannoch, which welcomed people with learning disabilities who had left long-stay hospitals.

Braerannoch is the name of the house itself and it is likely that the charity were the first owners after William passed away. This image from 2009 shows the extent of the property:

A more recent Google image shows us the approach to the property today, which is situated on a significant piece of land:

All of which takes me back to the photographs of an unknown house that we discovered amongst Rodney Burtt's archive in 2021. There are similarities with the approach and trees but it is inconclusive for now. There also seems to be more houses in the old images, but work may have been done in the meantime and the charity does seem to have built a new property on the left of the site. And Peter Kemp, a relative of William, remembers his house being called something like Braeranoch House which is pretty close to Braerannoch as you can get.