Glen Mhor Logbook 31st March 1950


A fascinating entry ahead, as we step into a new decade, one it seems without the presence of Gilbert W. Peterkin, who won't feature in the logbook anymore.

This means our faithful Exciseman since mid-1937, when he replaced Neil M. Gunn, is the last in the longstanding line of posts at Glen Mhor. From now on, there seems to be an assortment of officers completing the log and any trends will become apparent as we edge closer to the conclusion of the logbook in the 1960s.

We're able to identify each longstanding Exciseman, right back to the foundation of Glen Mhor in 1894 and their names are recorded forevermore in our Distillery Info page. For Gilbert, as Alan Winchester rightly pointed out a couple of entries ago, he has become a friend on this journey and his insights and personality have been brought to life thanks to this mere logbook that continues to be a rich source of detail.

Our new Exciseman for this entry at least, is James... I cannot read his surname, but it'll come to me in time. This particular entry gives us a fascinating look into the everyday business of recording production and measuring spirit strengths. Also, the issue when government equipment develops a fault and how this is overcome.

'The Surveyor

Inverness 2


I beg to report on the following occurrence at this distillery today.

When sending out two lots of whisky this morning (Warrant 28/30 3.50, ??? casks numbers 347356 of 1939 and Warrant 29/31 3.50 on cask numbered 727 of 1945) I observed that the indicated strengths seemed much higher than would normally be ???. (details of the warrants are attached). I was using working hydrometer 9169 which was ??? have with standard hydrometer 7687 on 29.3.50 and which was ??? 1/28.1. light.

There was no apparent damage to the hydrometer 9169 but I immediately ??? ??? with my standard. I then found that 9169 ??? to be several divisions heavy. c/o make ??? I allowed the standard hydrometer from Glen 

(page 2)

Albyn distillery and can ?? my standard 7687 and my working hydrometer 9169 with it. It was then obvious that my standard was correct and my working hydrometer hopelessly inaccurate. Enclosed information it was found that the unction of the two ??? of the ball of hydrometer was uncomfortable and that spirit was leaking into the ball. 

From the morning of 29.3.50 when working hydrometer 9169 was given its manual weekly test. It had been used to take spirit charges on 29th and 30th March and to do fillings on the same dates. To check whether my working hydrometer ??? ??? inaccurate when taking the charge of 29th and 30th March and during the fillings on the named dates. I took samples from various casks filled on these dates and using my standard hydrometer ascertained their strength.

I found that casks filled on 29.3.50 (483 ??? 1950) were of an average cask strength of 0/10.7 and that the casks filled on 30.3.50 (604/614/1950) were of an average strength of 0/10.9. Both these fillings were conducted at a strength of 0/11.1, as indicated by my working hydrometer and it would therefore seem, allowing for the time

(page 3)

time the casks have lain in warehouse that my working hydrometer no 9169 was an accurate them? as was shown by the weekly test on 29.3.50.

It is submitted that no far as can be ascertained hydrometer no 9169 was correct until 30.3.50 and that the fault it developed afer the following on 30.3.50 had been contributed. 

Approval is requested for the action taken or a request is made for any directions you may care to give.

I am, 
Your obedient servant
James Shura?

(listed thereafter are 10 casks from 30th March, numbers 347-356, including contents, proof and recalibrated rates)

The temperatures indicates ??? and strengths shown on the ??? time are in each ??? this found by the standard hydrometer after it was found and the working hydrometer was inaccurate.'

The location of Glen Albyn nearby in this instance provided a quick fix, when the Glen Mhor hydrometer was noted to be defective. I wonder if a more remote distillery would have had to enable a quicker repair, or track down a device from within the ranks of the distillery for a temporary solution? 

I sent this entry to Alan Winchester for his thoughts and he seemed quite excited by the detail and took our insight to a whole new level:

I am going to play with these figures, as there's a lot of information here which I want to work out, first it's interesting from quite a few points, first the cask details and we can have a look of the maturation losses, which will tell us a bit about the Warehouse they were stored in.

I think that the officer is U.O. which means I think unattached officer, (though I am not sure), I do not think they had Under Officer, so in a sense these were Officer's who were on the move, not in training, floaters, but you might need a HMRC or C & E person to verify this.  It could be that as C & E has an office in Inverness (I note he addresses it to Inverness 2) they would be based there with the Senior team, a sign of change?  

Then, the follow up that reveals how efficient the traditional dunnage warehouses were at Glen Mhor, which is something we wouldn't have known if it wasn't for this entry and Alan's expertise:

The workings were interesting, in the casks, not just for the dodgy hydrometer.

I did a check of the figures of the 10 Butts bonded in 1939 and delivered in 1950, the decrease in volume is interesting as it would appear that the Muirtown warehouses were losing strength slowly rule of thumb 0.5% per year, so a relatively dry warehouse considering its location, the maturation losses again are low, so not much issues, I would expect these casks were matured in the dunnage Duty Free Warehouses. I note his rounding down was not applied on one cask and 2 casks are missing 0.6, but his total volume of proof gallons is correct. Customs and Excise always rounded down. Maturation losses are quite low except for 2 of the casks.

Have attached a spreadsheet I used so you can see the calculations, anything you need explained please let me know, hope it makes sense. Gives us an idea of the Duty Free Warehouse type.

So, there you have it. Thanks to Alan we're now able to consider the warehousing as being particularly good at its job. 

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 to the source.