Mackinlay & Birnie Eday Peat Invoice 30th September 1921


Our journey through the acquired collection of documents continues as the subject of peat, and Eday peat in particular, comes up again. Mackinlay & Birnie sought out Eday peat because it was recognised as the best of its kind, despite the extra effort required to transport it to the mainland. I'd wager that they were long-time users of this valuable peat resource. The question is when?

The answer may lie in the Orkney archives. I'd wager that the focus on key ingredients comes from John Birnie and his use of Eday peat predates Glen Mhor and has its roots in the Glen Albyn distillery, and possibly his prior Speyside distilling activities. 

The circle is complete as this invoice shows Glen Albyn as a recent addition to the company, and although it was not peated, or intended to be peated, this source of fuel would have been used on site. That's something for further research into Glen Albyn, but the invoice shows us that both distilleries were stocking up on resources for the coming season, as previously highlighted by author, Michael Billett, when discussing the 1894 document. This shipment of 134 tonnes was sizeable and may have been enough to keep either distillery operational well into 1922.

It is challenging to conceptualise the sheer magnitude of 134 tons of peat, or the immense physical exertion required to extract the resource and transport it to the mainland. Where greater physical exertion was necessary to utilise its qualities.

The reverse of the invoice illustrates the continued use of the office filing system. 

As we piece together this lost distillery, which is now joined by an older establishment just across the road, it is important to consider the potential impact of a disagreement at Glen Albyn with John Birnie in the 1890s. This disagreement may have prevented the establishment of Glen Mhor and Glen Albyn may have continued to rise in status. Funny old thing history and those decisions that set you on a new path.