Extract from Alfred Barnard’s historic tour of every whisky distillery in Great Britain, published in ‘1887’
AT length the hour came when we were to quit Edinburgh; a few toasts were drank to the hope of meeting again, and we took farewell of those kind friends with whom we had passed so many pleasant hours. It was at the railway station that we exchanged our last adieu, and as we looked back out of the carriage window we saw our friends waving us a prosperous journey.
“Fareweel, Edinburgh, and a’ your daughters fair;
Your Palace in the sheltered glen, your Castle in the air,
Your rocky blows, your grassy knowes, and eke your mountain bauld;
Were I to tell your beauties a’, my tale would ne’er be tauld.
“Now, fareweel, Edinburgh, where happy we hae been;
Fareweel, Edinburgh, Caledonia’s Queen;
Prosperity to Edinburgh in every risin’ sun,
And blessin’s be on Edinburgh till time its race has run.”
Author of “Caller Herrin”
As we left the “Modem Athens” we felt regret that our pleasant tour was so near its end, and that in a few days (after we had visited the four Southern Distilleries) we should be leaving Bonnie Scotland, and travelling in less interesting places.
The carriage was too crowded for us to indulge long in these reflections, for we were a snugly dovetailed party, thirteen Christian souls occupying the space allotted to eight; fortunately, good humour prevailed, and our discomfort only lasted the distance of three or four stations. The route traversed was through scenery as diversified as it is possible to imagine, sometimes pastoral, then wild, and at Dumfries, and for many miles beyond, it combined all the luxuriant beauty of the Lowlands with some of the grandeur of the Highlands. Thereafter the country became more rugged and desolate, nothing being seen but a vast expanse of moor, broken with rocks and boulders. It was night when we arrived at Wigtown, and after the weary journey of ten hours, we were glad to reach the hotel, and seek the rest and refreshment we so much needed.
On the following morning, before starting on our duties, we explored the town, which presents a fine appearance from the railway and sea, being perched on an eminence. Wigtown is well arranged, and contains a beautiful central square, laid out in flower gardens, tennis courts, and promenades. Strange to say, this burghal ornament, unique of its kind in Scotland, was once the refuse and dust heap of the town.
We took a carriage from the hotel and drove to Bladnoch, distant about a mile beyond the suburbs. The Distillery is situated at the head of the village, from which it takes its name, and on the banks of the river Bladnoch, which is here a fine stream. The Establishment consists of a square pile of buildings, erected round a four t-yard, and was founded in the year 1817 by John and Thomas McClelland, father and uncle of the present proprietor. In 1878, the Distillery was enlarged and modernised, and now covers two acres of ground, and there are other 50 acres attached, which are farmed by the proprietor. The water used in the works comes from a mill-dam, which is supplied from the upper reaches of the river, and the overshot water wheel does all the driving power.
We first visited the Malting House, mostly a stone building, 1 18 feet long by 28 feet broad, with slated roof, the wood-work being painted red; it has three floors, the ground floor for malting, and the top stories for barley, each possessing a stone steep. There are besides, two other, barns, 95 by 32 feet, similarly arranged. At the right and left angles of the four t there are Kilns, bath loaded by hoists, floored with perforated iron plates and heated with peats. On the top floor of the intermediate building there is a capital Malt Deposit on a level with the Kilns, and underneath it is the Mill and Grist Loft. Returning to the quadrangle, we .next visited the Mash House, a well lighted building, 40 feet square, containing two heating coppers, holding together 5,700 gallons, and a Mash-tun 16 feet in diameter and 5 1/2 feet deep, with stirring gear. Sunk in the bed of the water- four se is the Underback, holding 3,000 gallons, which is considered a good arrangement for cooling the Worts.
Ascending a few steps from the yard we reached the Back House, where are placed against the wall, Six Washbacks, two of them holding 6,000 gallons, and four 3,500 gallons; also a Miller’s Refrigerator, and the Wash Charger containing 3,500 gallons, to which the Worts are pumped by a centrifugal pump. Following our guide we next came to the Still House, the oldest part of the Establishment, and containing three Old Pot Stills, consisting of a Wash Still, 13,000 gallons, and two Low-wines Stills, each of 400 gallons content. After this we went to the Receiving Room, which contains three Low-wines and Feints Receivers, the Spirit Safe, and a Spirit Receiver holding 400 gallons. Outside there are three Worm-tubs red from the river, and adjacent a Spirit Store, containing a vat holding 530 gallons, and the Excise and Distillery Offices. There are four Bonded Warehouses ranged round a second court-yard, holding 805 casks containing 80,700 gallons.
The peat shed is quite a handsome erection, being supported on iron columns, with slated roof. In the main courtyard there is a small cooperage and cask shed.
The make is pure Malt, and the annual output 51,000 gallons.