1894 New Warehouse Glen Albyn Distillery
Hold on, I hear you say? When did this Glen Mhor project deviate to the Dark Side and Glen Albyn? Well, read on for the surprise.
Regulars will know that I've set up a similar website for Glen Albyn, mainly because through researching Glen Mhor, I was stumbling across all sorts of gems for its neighbourly distillery. After all, they were on the same street and from the 1920s, married under the same ownership. Materials, like Glen Mhor, hadn't been welcomed into the wider whisky community. So, being the kind soul that I sometimes am, I decided to give it the same treatment. However, there is also another apparent benefit illustrated particularly in this article. By researching Glen Albyn, I will in time, unlock further discoveries for Glen Mhor and appreciate the support they did provide one another.
Such a thorough approach also covers, and highlights, today's find with these plans that were submitted to the Dean Guild in Inverness on 27th August 1894. These are labelled externally as being Glen Albyn, but upon further inspection, they are actually for Glen Mhor and were drawn up by Charles C. Doig, who designed the original distillery in 1893.
You may recall, the sets of plans from 1893, whether it was the ground floor or the first floor, made no reference to the warehousing. Our thorough research uncovered a set of plans from 1895 that underlined the original warehouse was not as big as everyone had once believed. Instead, it was extended in 1895, shortly after being built, around the time of the sudden death of Charles W. Mackinlay. But what of those original plans for the initial warehouse? Well, we have them now...
The original warehouse comes complete with a lift and is exactly what we would have envisaged would have been constructed around the same time as the distillery. What's perhaps more of interest is the actual site map, this gives us an indication of the distillery outline, which doesn't hugely vary from the finalised draft - just the noticeable addition of the chimney stack on this 1894 version.
The scale also seems off and that's interesting, as I doubt someone as experienced as Doig would deviate from the client's request. The warehouse ran the width of the site but in this site sketch it seems to overshoot the finalised distillery site as we know it. It is a sketch after all, but may also indicate that the easterly borderline was finalised? In fact, looking at the placement, the distillery is clearly shifted over to the easterly border with the maltings almost appearing to stand on Telford Street; this wouldn't be possible due to housing and land ownership. Perhaps this suggests that the drawer of this plan was not familiar with the site in person?
What the plans do tell us this version was 37ft in width. We know that the extension would have been around this width when the walls were taken into account. Interestingly, the length of the warehouse isn't stated, so we have to use the scale on the bottom of the plan. This gives us 190ft using this crude method, the plans were totally flat then I expect we'd be nearer the 200ft that was revealed by the 1895 extension plans. So, this all fits, give or take a few feet.
Again, referring back to that length measurement to the layout, it's clearly off by some margin. The final warehouse when constructed along the width of the site was 315ft in length. This sketch seems nearer 350ft. It's probably nothing, but worth considering historically. The boundaries seem off and the reference to distillery at Inverness echoes the original plans where Glen Mhor wasn't named.
These plans were approved on 27th August 1894. And I believe we've shown that a much smaller warehouse was constructed. Through this ongoing project, the initial construct of Glen Mhor seems budgeted or a little constrained. As I've speculated on a recent podcast when discussing the original plans, everything was built into the original production layout, including offices. Was this a tentative step from the Mackinlays who provided the financial muscle?
Discussing these plans and what may or may not have happened, Alan Winchester during his career suggested that my experience has seen many iterations of plans, money not available, other ideas come to the fore. Very interesting as you can check various thought progresses. So, quite possibly we have a consideration that's specific to distilleries and replicated into our present day.
We've watermarked the images from the Highland Archive Centre in Inverness to protect the originals, which are referenced as R65 Telford Street - Dean of Guild Plans. As with any images on this website, please ask first before using and always give credit. My thanks to the Centre for their continued assistance.