Extract from Alfred Barnard’s historic tour of every whisky distillery in Great Britain, published in ‘1887’
THE journey from Dundee to Brechin was a pleasant one, and our fellow passengers very agreeable. One of them, a fine stalwart young Scotchman, amused us much; he maintained that Burns was right when he said cc Freedom and Whisky gang thegither,” and that Bonnie Scotland with her culture, industries, and ambition, was a proof of it. We reluctantly left this party at Brig o’Dun Junction, and after a “Y- short time arrived at Brechin, the object of our journey. A ten minutes walk over the hill brought us to Messrs. Guthrie, Martin, & Co.’s Distillery, which is situated in the parish of Brechin, about half a mile from the railway station. It is half a mile from the river South Esk. and four from the celebrated bridge of Dun, a district sacred to the memory of the Great Reformer, Sir John Erskine. To the west of Brechin, a busy manufacturing town, on a rock overhanging the river, stands Brechin Castle, the se at of the Earl of Dalhousie; the site of an old fort, where the Scots made so brave a stand and stout resistance to Edward I. of England, making, by their doughty deeds of warfare and heroism, many a page of history.
The Distillery was built in the year 1820. Previous to its erection, Brechin and the neighbouring towns were supplied with Whisky made in the northern Grampians by smugglers, who carried it from thence in kegs slung across the backs of their ponies. The originators of the firm were Messrs. David, John, and Alexander Guthrie, brothers of the late eminent divine Dr. Thomas Guthrie, and the present proprietors are descendants of the same family. The Whisky is Highland Malt, and the water used in its manufacture is conveyed in pipes from the Grampian Mountains, and the peats employed in drying the malt come from the same source. The district around Brechin being highly cultivated, barley of the finest quality is grown and carted by the farmers into the lofts of the Distillery, where nothing but the very best barley is malted. The annual output is 100,000 gallons.
Though the buildings of the Still House and Malt Barns are old the internal arrangements are of modern description, and in every case where machinery can be used in place of manual labour advantage is taken.
The spirit is distilled in the old-fashioned Pot Stills and condensed in Worm laid out in the bed of the Den Burn which runs through the works. The warehouses for the storing of Spirits are as fine as any in the north. One, built a few years ago, and which contains 100,000 gallons, is 200 feet long by feet road.
Besides supplying wholesale houses with Whisky, Messrs. Guthrie, Martin, and Co. are also large holders of very old spirits, which they keep to meet the demands of their Duty-paid trade.