Distillery Log Book
One of the most fascinating and detailed finds when researching Glen Mhor, is the above log book. This records any requests that required approval from the onsite Customs & Excise representative of the government.
This particular book covers 1936 until the 1960s when the excise operation in Inverness was replaced - gone were specific stationed Customs & Excisemen and instead the city had its own office.
The log is held at the Highland Archives Centre in Inverness (HCA/D31/4/1/25) and I'm thankful for access to it. As its pages have been relatively undisturbed for decades, this research project will go through each entry and debate its contents. This will shed new light on life at the distillery and give us insight into its workings. Our timeline will be updated with any entries of note.
Also worth highlighting is the log features the work of Neil M. Gunn, who was stationed at Glen Mhor until his retirement in 1937 to become a full-time writer. In doing so, one of Scotland's greatest writers was born.
As each of the pages will receive their due focus and consideration, this page lists every article in chronological order. Posts themselves are a specific hashtag here. These logs were a necessary administrative feature of any distillery of the period, hopefully we can find the precursors to 1936, as earlier records would have been complied in a similar form.
My thanks also go out to Alan Winchester for his insightful thoughts on these entries from a distilling perspective.
1st June 1936
A request for works during the silent season at Glen Mhor.
July 2nd 1936
The worms are tested for a leak.
July 3rd 1936
Spirit Safe receives a new feature to make distilling easier.
July 22nd 1936
A request to replace piping between the Feints Charger and No.2 Low Wines Still.
October 21st 1936
A problem with the wash still anti-collapse value prompts a risky decision.
April 29th 1937
A decline in volume leads to the discovery of a leaky still.
June 22nd 1937
Routine requests during the silent season, shed new light on the inner workings.
15th July 1937
A request to repair the spent Lees Receiver number 2, reveals a siphon device meant to increase the lifestyle of the stills.
13th October 1937
A request for the spirit stores to be left open at both Glen Albyn and Glen Mhor, reveals a previously unknown upgrade.
17th January 1938
A leak is identified, and work takes place to correct the issue.
26th January 1938
A remarkable entry, which confirms the original Low Wines Still was mothballed when Glen Mhor's 3rd still was installed. The new manager wishes to ascertain its state for future use?
9th June 1938
Nothing much to see as silent season marks the arrives of the routine maintenance request.
23rd November 1938
The newer of the 3 stills requires some urgent attention.
12th December 1938
An accident in the washback area, provides a vital clue.
14th April 1939
Another sizeable accident leads to all manner of investigation and new discoveries.
16th April 1939
A simple request about mashing on a Sunday, underlines the importance of the Caledonian Canal as the water source for the distillery.
24th May 1939
A routine silent season request opens the door for future entries and work in the log.
25th May 1939
Proposed work on the No.2 Low Wines Still gives us some valuable insight.
28th June 1939
An entry, confirming the defective copper plates on the No.2 Low Wines Still have been successfully replaced.
29th June 1939
A sketch of all things! Plus a request for an indulgence when it comes to the original Low Wines Still.
7th July 1939
The aforementioned Low Wines indulgence work is assessed and documented as per the terms of the agreement.
27th March 1940
Customs and Excise grant an indulgence around rule 162, something that's being seen on a regular basis now.
4th April 1940
A fascinating entry, revealing Glen Mhor's estimated versus actual output for the year and the implications of the war.
23rd April 1941
Just over a year on from an indulgence request around rule 162, the same request appears once again.
28th August 1941
The business of selling casks continues despite the war restrictions and we are given some insight into this practice and what happens when things don't go according to plan.
26th June 1942
The Glen Mhor exciseman is promptly called to assist with a fire at Glen Albyn distillery and break the warehouse lock.
15th September 1942
Even with the war raging and the threat of closure, work was still ongoing to improve conditions at Glen Mhor, as this enhancement to the Spirit Safe proves.
25th February 1943
A remarkable entry involving Glen Albyn and a new brief distillate at Glen Mhor.
26th March 1943
Glen Mhor falls silent due to World War 2 restrictions making it one of the last distilleries to close.
22nd April 1943
A wonderful entry that reveals working conditions and temporary arrangements during the war on site.
24th April 1943
A report on the issue of maintaining casks and their movement as sales continue.
15th May 1943
Excess production accounted for by Customs & Excise, plus a one-off distillation at Glen Mhor using up left over feints.
18th February 1944
The logbook records wartime damage at Glen Albyn distillery thanks to some bad army driving.
6th August 1945
A very significant date in world history, gives us insight into Glen Mhor being back in production and where is our faithful exciseman?
5th September 1945
Gilbert W. Peterkin returns and documents another indulgence being granted to Glen Mhor.
7th September 1945
An informative entry, which gives us insight into shift patterns at the distillery, the follow-up outcome following a loss in the stillroom and a stillman being disciplined for carelessness.
23rd March 1946
Gilbert notes the issues around brewing and distilling in the face of legislative changes and their impact at Glen Mhor. We also learn the sabbath was respectfully followed at the distillery and old practices.
10th November 1947
An issue with the Spirit Pump is documented and approval for an urgent repair from Customs & Excise.
28th December 1947
A request to amend the distilling regulations so the distillery team could have some seasonal time off.
31st March 1950
This entry reveals a faulty hydrometer, subsequent cask measurements allows Alan Winchester to calculate the efficiency of the warehouse 73 years later
26th February 1952
The distillery logbook highlights a potential warehouse break in, or testing of the security features.
31st March 1952
Double duty is recorded at Glen Mhor as the Excisemen receive additional help from R.Rout and J.Middleton.
19th March 1962
This entry highlights the movement of 20 casks to Hartlepool and a loss in transit.
6th September 1966
A rarely seen example of a cancelled entry in the logbook confirms reconstruction of warehouses (previously unrecorded) was taking place earlier in September.