16th May 1894 John Birnie Payment for a new distillery


Just when I thought the well was about to run dry, we're about to commence a new journey with Glen Mhor following the acquisition of a collection of documents.

My thanks to everyone who spread the word about the Go Fund Me drive and who also contributed. Regardless of what you pledged, you made this happen and because of this, the documents will now been seen and discussed in greater detail.

Give or take, I tend to go through the documents systematically in chronological order. And it is possible to trace the origins of Glen Mhor and its establishment by referencing some of these documents.

We begin in 1894, as the construction project approached completion and the frenzied activity around Glen Mhor must have been considerable, as shown by the entries in our Timeline.  The owners were using such publicity to make an impression and encourage orders for their new whisky distillery.

The document is a simple receipt acknowledging a payment of £100, which would be worth just over £16,000 these days.  It was a considerable amount of money, especially given that John Birnie surely had to deal with numerous expenses at the time in an effort to get Glen Mhor and up running.

The receipt is straightforward, and it is worth noting that the default decade for dates was initially set at 1880, but has been corrected. The signature is challenging to read as it crosses the stamp.

However, given the impressive nature of receipts upheld by larger companies and banking institutions during this period, it's reasonable to assume that this receipt may have originated from a smaller, local firm for rendered services. And I was having difficulty reading a couple of words on this receipt, but the online consensus was slates which makes sense given its placement in the history of the distillery. 

'Received from John Birnie Esq Balnafettack Inverness the sum of One hundred pounds sterling being a payment to a/c for slater work of new distillery Muirtown Inverness.'

It is noteworthy that John Birnie was already living at Balnafettack farm, which is in close proximity to both his former workplace (Glen Albyn) and his new distillery. 

The property still stands to this day, with this house report from 2017 offering a glimpse into its history as the Birnie family's stronghold. Strangely, only Glen Albyn is mentioned and not the greater accomplishment of Glen Mhor. However, you can see exactly why relatives that I've interviewed, remember the property so fondly and their times visiting Inverness.

On the reverse of the receipt, the simple character of the document persists. With only No.5 and a Gray being noted. Perhaps as we find further receipts, we may be able to discern if this was a contractor. Given its place in our timeline, it is likely that it will be linked to some form of work on the site.

A new journey has begun.