Glen Mhor Daily Record 10th May 1947


This week we have a new photograph taken within Glen Mhor, which is identified as the filling station. The actual transcription reads as:

'Have you ever been inside a distillery? Among 11 per cent overproof whisky? Well, here's 'Operation Final' at Glen Mhor Distillery, Inverness, where the newly-distilled whisky is going into the clients' wood. Yes, there's an Exciseman present. (Deil tak' the man!)'

The image and quote in question are somewhat peculiar, as there is no accompanying article or linkage. It is possible that this is a remnant from a distillery story, or perhaps from a wider aspect around producers who resumed production following the Second World War. History shows us that Mackinlay & Birnie did utilise journalists to promote their distillery through their ownership tenure.

There is also a pleasing symmetry as Neil M. Gunn, a former exciseman at Glen Mhor, worked for the Daily Record over several years as a columnist, mostly during the war. I have around 30 of his columns to read and digest, in the hope that there are some whisky or Glen Mhor themes that I can bring to you at a later date. 

Given the vast amount of material we've accumulated in this research project, I can also point you to a logbook entry from 10th November 1947, just a few months later, which highlights a malfunction of the pump in this room. It is well worth reading for Alan's insights into this area of the distillery and its equipment.

This failure suggests that the pumps from the original version of the room were maintained rather than replaced. The breakdown in the logbook is very detailed and includes details of the workaround and repair to enable the barrels to be filled, which tended to take place every Thursday.

Always embracing the possibilities of new technology versus old newspaper images, I've used some AI tools to bring light to formerly dark areas...

This method does bring a whitewash to things, but does lift out some details, several of which, Alan Winchester was more than delighted to highlight:

‘That’s good, it’s degrees proof not percentage. I hope William is not smoking a pipe in this picture, that could be Peterkin in his office.

Of note they ‘re using the filling heads that shut off when cask is full,  I expect they would not have been changed when the distillery closed.’

I concur with Alan's assertion that the individual in question is William Birnie, who is with a pipe in his hand. It is possible that the image has been somewhat staged, although it is known from the research that this filling room was expanded in 1946, as previously noted in our plan research. This image is consistent with the newly discovered layout of a larger room, with the area for the exciseman clearly in the background, possibly with Peterkin hidden mostly from view.

It is also of interest to consider the context of this image. It is known that a Fleet Street photographer was present at Glen Mhor in 1946 and captured an image of William Birnie by the lost 3rd Still. The image was subsequently located and returned to its rightful place in the history of Glen Mhor. I'll remind you of the image which is great and features William Birnie looking at a vital piece of equipment:

There is a possibility that this image was captured on the same day as the Daily Record image. Upon closer examination, it becomes evident that William is attired in a suit and hat, which was his working uniform of choice from our research, and that he is also holding a pipe firmly in place. This suggests that the photograph could be from the same period. It also demonstrates that William was unable to be separated from his tobacco, even when in the most potentially hazardous of environments. 

This is backed up by the childhood memories of Peter Kemp in 2021, as he reflected about his time visiting the distillery on our Quote page, and the memory of William's tobacco was still strong decades later:

'Yes, memories for sure, my sister and I were quite little as we enjoyed summer and winter vacations in Inverness, and playing most mornings the Glen Mhor office, the secretary's loved it as they put aside their work care for us.  I remember his office filled with unfortunately hunting collections!! Large snake skin along the wall, Tiger mat below his desk other things hung!! the smell of Tabaco from his pipes.'


This Daily Record photograph is a welcome addition to our Glen Mhor resource, and I'm always pleased to have a new photograph to share with the wider community. It just shows what else is out there, and while it's not a showstopper, it just adds a little more detail and prompts me to bring in other areas of research to help build the clearer picture we're forming.

As always, if you have any information on Glen Mhor, no matter how small, I'd love to hear from you.