Glen Mhor Logbook 19th March 1962


We've arrived in the swinging sixties at Glen Mhor the business of filling casks for clients continues as this entry shows.

What's interesting is that we have a gap of almost a decade in the logbook between this and the prior entry. An unfortunately period of calmness at Glen Mhor? We know that this was actually a period of new investment thanks to changes in the ownership structure. While log keeping and recording was at the heart of any Exciseman role, possibly the lack of entries underlines a new dawn and also the movement away from a fixed on site position. While Gilbert W. Peterkin and those before him embraced this logbook, a new generation seemingly utilised it less. For whatever reason, it was picked up again in 1962 and we have this informative entry that takes us on a cask journey.

For much of its existence, this was the major business of Glen Mhor and it was cited as a major reason for selling both distilleries in 1972 as the business of filling cask had become difficult. Competition was fierce and the larger corporations had built up a expansive portfolio of distilleries, so much so, that they didn't need to look elsewhere for their blending needs.

This entry concerns 20 casks and the loss of spirit in transit, but it also shows us where Glen Mhor was doing its trading. With the casks heading to Hartlepool, which isn't a town known for its whisky or blending operations, it seems reasonable to assume that we're discussing the port warehouses south of the border. This in turn suggests that the casks were being shipped abroad? And that's where the mystery begins, as who was shipping casks internationally? And one day we might find answers.

The entry itself reads as:

'Dear Sirs

On 8/3/62 twenty casks of British Plain Spirits (Scotch Whisky except as regards age) were dispatched direct from racking warehouse at Glen Mhor Distillery to No.1 Warehouse, West Hartlepool. The casks were filled on 7/3/62 and topped up on 8/3/62 prior to removal from the racking warehouse.

The consignment was received at West Hartlepool on 13/3/62 and after examination on 14/3/62 a chargeable deficiency in transit of 9.4 proof gallons was found. This figure was made up of small losses on each of 19 casks in the consignment. There was no chargeable loss in cask no.665.

Duty (and surcharge) £109.15.6 has been brought to account on the warrant No.1/March 1962 and Messrs Mackinlays and Birnie Limited are now applying for repayment on the grounds that the loss was due to absorption of spirit in newly filled dry casks. 

There is no reason to believe that any of the spirit charged with duty was illegally extracted, and during the period of six days between dispatch and re-examination the casks would have lost considerably both in strength and in bulk.

Traders application and ??? of the despatch and the certificate of receipt are in the enclosure envelope. 

Submitted for consideration as to whether repayment of duty and surcharge may be made. 

Yours obediently sent

?.Dawson, officer.'

Hartlepool had become a major port and its two significant docks areas were joined up in 1880, hence why this is referred to as West Hartlepool, which suggests the warehouse would have been in this additional cluster. There is an informative article on the whole history of these ports that helped ship coal but grew to handle all manner of goods including fish.

While I've been unable to find an image of the number 1 warehouse, this image of warehouse 8 and the quayside gives you an idea of the environment and also features a cask of some kind on the right.

Image source: Hartlepool History

Image Source: Hartlepool History

As always, we're very fortunate to be able to show these entries to Alan Winchester for his thoughts and insight into the bygone age. For this particular entry, Alan commented: 

'In 1962 the Customs and Excise were still overseeing the filling and dispatch of casks.

The practice the officer records, shows that the filled casks, which would have been filled by gross and tare, and the practice of topping the casks due to be dispatched the next day used to be common practice, this meant the cask were dispatched, were bung full, the receipt warehouse has recorded, the loss which is as M & B says quite common as they say dry casks, so more in drink has occurred, when you think of it the customer got their casks topped up after a day, as the contents would be charged on the previous days gross and tare figure, so the top up was basically free.

Surprised the officer at the other end was not aware of this, it would be interesting to see the surveyor's reply.'

A free top-up anyone? This sounds like a good practice sadly lost to time and seems like an efficient way of ensuring the casks left checked and in reasonable condition. This is certainly the first mention of Hartlepool we have around Glen Mhor and it'll be of interest to see if this is a one-off or more sustained through further research.

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.