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Devanha Distillery Strathdee Distillery  Cuparstone, Aberdeen Union Glen Distillery Glenury Distillery Stonehave Glenugie Distillery



Devanha Distillery - Founded 1825 as brewery whose owner added a distillery on the premises 1837. Later, in 1852 it was acquired by William Black & Co. who operated it until 1910 (See Brewers).  It is believed that new owners operated the distillery until 1915 when it definitely shut its doors. It was situated on the Riverside Drive near the Dee, beside the Railway Bridge.  The Brewery took the Roman name for the area of Aberdeen. With its 2 Pot stills and 14/4.000 gallon washbacks it had an annual production of 220.000 gallons. Water for process was city water and water for cooling was drawn from River Dee. The buildings, very modernised are still standing.

There was a distillery for a short time C1794 at the Brig o Balgownie.
Old Aberdeen Distillery
Founded 1798 by Alexander Manson

Gilcomston Distillery

Address: By Gilcomston Park Street, Gilcomston,

Gilcomston distillery stands on the corner of Rosemount Viaduct and Leadside Road on the North side of Union Street.  It was built by Gilcomston Distillery Co in 1751 but it was closed in 1763.  They reopened it but they changed it to Brewery and Mill Factory.

The Mill lade from Gilcomston Dam to the Loch passed along the north side of Baker Street; and here the Town Council had granted a site for a lint mill, with water power to 'scutch' the lint, and a croft on the south side of the road to spread out the lint upon after being in the steep.

In 1751 the Mill and the Croft were transferred to a Distillery company on a tack of 99 years, at £? per acre, a condition being that the tack would terminate if the property were used for any other purpose than a Distillery. The business did not prosper, and in 1763 the Town Council permitted the lease to be assigned to a Brewery Company, with leave to take water by a lead pipe from the lade. (Mill head or tail race).  The Dam was quite remote from the Brewery Site at the far end of the lade, hence Leadside Road.

Glenburnie  Distillery
This distillery stood near the Denburn about 100 yards east of the Dam at Rubislaw Den - west of the centre of Aberdeen, along the Spademill Road. It was in operation until 1857 when the building was then occupied by George Washington Wilson for photographic printing until 1875. The building was eventually demolished to make way for the construction of Forest Road.
Glenburnie Distillery, Founded 1816 by James Dunbar which was in operation till 1857
In 1890 the process had been industrialised and there were 3 distilleries operating in the city.  Today the breweries and the distilleries have all disappeared.  Also known as Glenburnie Distillery, Rubislaw Distillery and Spade Mill Distillery
Inset from the 1860's

Distillery Founded 1830 by George Maitland Closed 1833

Brown & Co, Glenburn Distillery, Rubislaw

1868 - Rubislaw, Lower Stocket and Westburn Survey

Chivas Brothers - an epicurian delight

The House of Schivas, a large mansion, was built at Schivas in Aberdeenshire in 1640. The name is derived from the Gaelic 'seamhas', meaning narrow place. Chivas Brothers traces its roots to the opening of a grocery store at 13 King St, Aberdeen in 1801 a four arched window shop near Lodge Walk's wicket gate entrance.  The store sold luxury foodstuffs such as coffee, exotic spices, French brandies, and Caribbean rums to a wealthy clientèle. In 1842, Chivas Brothers were retained to supply provisions to the Royal Family at Balmoral Castle upon Queen Victoria's first visit to Scotland.  As King Street was somewhat unflattering, they later moved too the more respectable West End of Union Street for their premises and there was a fashionable Restaurant upstairs to further extend their trade.

In 1843, Chivas Brothers were granted a Royal Warrant to supply goods to Queen Victoria. Chivas Brothers was described in 1890 as 'undoubtedly the finest purveying business in the north of Scotland' by Scotland of Today magazine. During the 1850s, James Chivas decided to respond to his affluent customers' demands for a smoother whisky, by beginning to blend whiskies to create a proprietary blend to Chivas Brothers. Their first blended Scotch whisky named 'Royal Glen Dee' was launched, followed in the 1860s by their second blended Scotch whisky, 'Royal Strathythan'.  In the early 1900s, Chivas Brothers decided to create their most aged blended Scotch whisky to export to the U.S, where the booming economy after the turn of the century was fuelling demand for luxury goods. The whisky was named Chivas Regal. Chivas Regal 25 Year Old was launched in 1909 as the original luxury Scotch, and became a leading brand in the U.S. Chivas Regal continued its success until Prohibition in the 1920s. Chivas Regal was purchased by Seagrams in 1949, which provided a much wider distribution and marketing system. Chivas Regal was re-launched as Chivas Regal 12 year old in the US following the disruption of both Prohibition and World War II. Chivas became a fashionable brand of the era, and became associated with Frank Sinatra and the rest of the Rat Pack, Chivas Regal was the Scotch whisky requested by Sinatra, along with other spirits brands backstage at performances, and Chivas sponsored Frank Sinatra's Diamond Jubilee Tour in 1990. In 1950, the company Chivas Brothers was able to buy the Strathisla Distillery which produces the Starathisla Single Malt, which is used within the Chivas Regal blend.

The Chivas Regal range was expanded with the launch of higher aged whiskies, in 1997 with the launch of Chivas Regal 18 year old, and in 2007 with the launch of Chivas Regal 25.  Chivas Regal was acquired by Pernod Ricard in 2000 upon the break up of Seagrams Group.

Chivas Brothers -
In 1836 James Chivas became an assistant in William Edward's busy grocery store on Castle Street Aberdeen, selling fine foods, beverages, wines, and spirits. It was here that James learned the value of giving customers high quality and superior service at keen prices.  At some point in 1838 the company moved to larger premises on King Street, however William Edward passed away three years later (1841) and James acquired the business and went in to partnership with Charles Stewart, another Aberdeen merchant, becoming the partnership Stewart & Chivas.  Concentrating on the wines and spirits they began to bottle their own blend of Scotch whiskies.  Their first brand, Royal Glen Dee, proved highly popular, and the firm's reputation as blenders of fine Scotch whiskies soon spread.  It was around this time that James began laying down stocks of the finest Scotch whiskies with a vision of creating the world's finest blend. Queen Victoria began entertaining guests at her Scottish Balmoral Estate in 1842.  The Royal Household requested many deliveries from the King Street shop.  In 1843 this popularity was to earn James Chivas a Royal Warrant, appointing him "Purveyor of Grocery to Her Majesty."  This was just the first of many Royal Warrants to be granted to the firm over the following years.

Stewart & Chivas remained until 1857 when it was dissolved. James then went into partnership with his brother John and became Chivas Brothers, however John passed away in 1862.  During 1879 a branch of the shop was opened in fashionable Union Place, in the west end of Aberdeen.  James taught his eldest son Alexander in the skills of the business, making him the manager of the Union Place branch.  While the grocery shops continued to thrive, it was Chivas Brothers' blended whiskies that exceeded all expectations.  New brands like, Magna Charta, Loch Nevis and Royal Strathythan were introduced, which successfully brought in orders from all over the British Empire. Alexander maintained the Chivas Brothers' philosophy of quality blending, after James Chivas passed away in 1886, and instilled all his employees with the importance of aging stocks of the best Scotch whiskies to ensure a continuing supply for the future.  When Alexander passed away, at the age of 37, the business went to Alexander's former clerk, Alexander Smith. With his partner, Charles Stewart Howard, they promptly set about creating a blend that would live up to the exceptional standards set by James Chivas nearly half a century earlier.  The result was - Chivas Regal. During the early 1900’s America was bursting with energy and optimism. Construction was expanding and New York was fast catching up with London, as the theatre capital of the world, Chivas Regal entered the market in the early autumn of 1909 and by December 1909, the Chivas Brothers agents were already requesting more stock of Chivas Regal.  Originally the brand lacked the outward, luxury presentation that American consumers were looking for. However this was soon re-solved by the development of the distinctive packaging, the silver carton indented with heraldic symbols that remain to this day.  At some point in 1920 William Mitchell joined the partnership which continued until 1935 when it was dissolved and the company became a limited liability company registered as Chivas Brothers Ltd

Salubrious premises in the west end of Union Street after vacating No.13 King Street.  Very posh interior and even better first floor quality restaurant and cocktail bar above to dissipate Chivas Bros wares in.

The Glenugie Distillery, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire in 1956
Also known as Invernettie, is located near Peterhead, at the mouth of the River Ugie.  The buildings have been demolished.  It was the only eastern Highland Distillery North of Aberdeen.  It also was the distillery that was located furthest to the East in all Scotland.

It was built on the site of an old Tower Windmill, remnants of this still survive, and it is overlooked by a ruined watchtower on a small eminence. 1833 – 1834:  The Glenugie Distillery was established in the early 1830s and production started in 1837.  Donald McLeod & Co. were the first owners, yet lasted less than one year. Glenugie was converted into a brewery in 1873, but was then turned back into a distillery by Scottish Highland Distillers & Co. Ltd who completely renovated the distillery.  At this time, the annual output was 90,000 gallons.  The distillery was very successful from 1884 until 1915 while it was owned by Simon Forbes.  From 1925 to 1937, the distillery was silent until it was reopened by Seagar Evans & Co. Ltd before being bought by Long John International in 1970.

In 1956, Glenugie once again underwent a major renovation. Included in the renovation was an oil-fired burner which replaced the coal-fired system.  As a result, production was significantly increased.  The distillery had 2 stills. Since the 1970s, Glenugie's owners were Whitbread & Co. Ltd. Whitbread eventually ceased production due to a major slump in the whisky business and the distillery was permanently shut down and dismantled in 1983.  The mashtun and spirit safe were sold and removed to Fettercairn.  The latter now functions as the No 1 Spirit Safe. Forsyth Coppersmiths were involved in the removal of equipment.

Distillery Site Records

No official single malt bottlings were ever released, so we have to rely on independent bottlers for an opportunity to taste it,  The first known single malt bottlings were distilled in 1959 and bottled by independent - William Cadenhead of Aberdeen in 1977/1978,  Signatory released 670 Bottles in 1977 now selling at £140 each.


Cadenhead's is arguably Scotland's oldest independent bottler - it was founded almost two centuries ago (in 1842) in Aberdeen. One viable question is if the company that was founded by Wm. Cadenhead and G. Duncan was actually a 'bottler' in the modern sense of the word - blending hadn't been invented yet and there was no single malt culture like we have today. In fact, most distilleries that exist today were not even founded yet... In 1972, the company was taken over by the owners of the Springbank distillery who moved their main offices and bottling facilities to Campbeltown, close to the whisky warehouses.

Putachieside the Putachie Burn run down the west side of St Katherine's Hill to the Loch.

Cadenhead's blend of whiskies known as Putachieside goes back over 100 years.  Unlike many brands which dropped it from their labels Putachieside still retains the 'liqueur' tag.  Putachieside the place was to be found in Aberdeen and was later known as Carnegie's Brae.  It was partly destroyed by the making of Union Street the city's impressive main street and finally cleared away by the construction of New Market Street in the 1840s.  It has a delightful label which shows the Wallace Tower or Well House Tower, Netherkirkgate and Carnegie's Brae as they were in Victorian Aberdeen.  Before Marks & Spencer's or St Stephens Clouts were worn.

A blended whisky produced by Cadenhead which is labelled as a liqueur whisky (an old term for a blend containing a high percentage of malt).  The label depicts the view from our old premises at 47 Netherkirkgate, Aberdeen, an area known as Putachieside which, sadly, is no longer in existence.  Cadenhead's 12 year old Putachieside whisky blend carries a drawing on the label showing the area around their original premises in Aberdeen (the eponymous 'Putachieside') which no longer exists - now Carnegie Brae the arched cavern under Union Street.  Scotland's oldest independent bottler, established in 1842.

The firm of William Cadenhead Ltd, Wine and Spirit Merchants, was founded in 1842 and is Scotland's oldest independent bottler. The company was was in the ownership of the same family until taken over by J & A Mitchell & Co.Ltd in 1972, the proprietors of Springbank Distillery.

The early days
For 130 years prior to this, the firm of William Cadenhead Ltd traded from the same premises in the Netherkirkgate, Aberdeen. It was what subsequently became No. 47 that Mr George Duncan established himself as a vintner and distillery agent. The business prospered and in little over 10 years he was joined by his brother-in-law Mr William Cadenhead. In 1858 Mr Duncan died following a short illness. William Cadenhead acquired the business and changed the trading name to that of his own. Whilst not much is known of George Duncan, a great deal is on record about his brother-in-law. It must be said that this is not because of his distinction as a vintner but because he was a local poet of renown throughout the Victorian era. Born in 1819, he began working at an early age in a small thread factory where he gained a great deal of respect from his employer. From there he became an overseer in the yarn sorting department of Maberly & Co at their Broadford Works, now Richards PLC. About 1853 he left the company and joined his brother-in-law as traveller for the Distillery Agent until Duncan's death in 1858 where he acquired the business. Apart from his enviable reputation as a poet, he became a prominent citizen taking part in all aspects of local affairs during his long life.

Misnomer of Nelson's Blood
Nelson's body was placed in a  Leaguer cask of Brandy mixed with Camphor and Myrrh which was then lashed to the Victories mainmast and placed under guard.  Legend has it that, ironically, it was French brandy that had been captured during the battle.  Victory was towed to Gibraltar after the battle, and on arrival the body was transferred to a lead-lined coffin filled with spirits of wine (Ethanol). 

When Beatty examined the preserved body weeks after Nelson's death, he found that "it exhibited a state of perfect preservation, without being in the smallest degree offensive."  Beatty's careful attention to chemical detail was vindicated when the Victory's officers and other public figures saw Nelson's body for the first time. Beatty wrote, "All the Officers of the ship ... witnessed its un-decayed state after a lapse of two months since death, which excited the surprise of all who beheld it. Nelson was given a state funeral and was entombed in St. Paul's Cathedral, in London

There were many Scottish seamen on board the ships at Trafalgar, not all of them volunteers. HMS Victory had some 42 Scottish Crew Members. The surgeon who treated Nelson was a young Scot, aged 24. There were a total of 18 nationalities among the crew, including Egyptians and Americans. Mary Buick, a Dundee woman married to a seaman from Kinnettles in Fife on the ship prepared Nelson’s body for preserving in the barrel of Brandy prior to his return home. She and her husband are buried in Kilrenny Churchyard, Fife.

Thomas Watson was a sailor. When the Navy Press Gangs were raiding the Fife coast villages looking for ready-made seamen to impress into the Navy, Thomas hid out for a few nights in the waste land that was then at the back of Cellardyke, but he was eventually caught and taken on board the Navy ship. His wife, Mary Buick, who hailed from Dundee, contrived to also get on board the ship. To have some women on board warships was encouraged, as they acted as nurses to the wounded in battle.  When Nelson died from his wounds, it was Mary and another woman who had the job of sewing Nelson's body into a canvas shroud.

Spirit of Spirits! - glorious Glenlivat!
Yclept Peat Reek - alias the Barley Bree;
Accept my sonnet freely as I give it,
Thou Northern nectar - Scotland's eait de vie !

Divinest essence of all drinks divine,
Thou helicon of Scottish poesie!
Before a Highland still thy holy shrine,
Thy thirsty pilgrim fain would praise and prie.

Heart's blood of the long-bearded King of Grain,
John Barleycorn ! - right royal stream - 'twas thou
Inspired the matchless Poet of the Plough;
What sober Bard sings now so sweet a strain?
At tavern table - yea on dais or divot,
Devoutly will I drink thee - guid Glenlivat!

John Imlah

 'Bella's Bar' (C S MacDonald's or Mither MacDonald's) on East North Street before it closed.  Bella's Bar was the last in Aberdeen to still have sawdust on the floor a practice prevalent in Butcher's shops to soak up blood and gore. A common Denominator.

The mirror procalims Wm Williams & Sons, Celebrated 'Old Highland Whisky', Aberdeen

Old Liqueur Scotch Whisky, Wm Williams and Sons Ltd, distillers Aberdeen

In the autumn of 1886 William Grant bought a site on the bank of the River Fiddich, and assisted by his wife and nine children, began carting stones from the river bed to build his distillery, which he named ‘Glenfiddich', ‘The Valley of the Deer' - hence the proud stag which decorates every bottle of Glenfiddich single malt.

Fortunately for William Grant, soon after Glenfiddich went into production, a well known firm of Blenders in Aberdeen, William Williams & Company, placed an order for 400 gallons a week - the entire output of the nascent distillery - and with this sound base the Grant family were able to expand production. By 1902 Glenfiddich was being bottled by the Grants in small quantities, and two years later some was being sold in Canada.

William Williams,  & Sons, Ltd, 36, 37 and 38 Regent Quay



Begg, John, 18 Regent Quay
Douglas, Gordon & Co., 18 High street
Duff, John, & Co., 5 Union Terrace.
Glenlivet Bonding Co., 94, 96 and 98 Hardgate
Longmorn "Glenlivet" Distilleries Co., Ltd., 5 Union Terrace
North of Scotland Distillery Co., Hardgate

The North British Distillery Company was founded in 1885, and built the North British Distillery at Gorgie, Edinburgh one year later. The founders were Andrew Usher, William Sanderson and John M. Crabbie, a group of blenders and spirit dealers.  Initially the site consisted of 1 coffey still. The distillery produces grain whisky, and has always used a proportion of green malt in its blends, which eliminates the need for some drying of malt. The site, selected for its nearness to the Union Canal in an Edinburgh suburb, went on steam in September 1887.  In its 1st full year the distillery produced 3.6 million litres, and fillings demand increased year on year. By 1914 the site produced 9 million litres annually. During the 1st World War distillation was suspended and the distillery was converted to the production of acetate from maize. However it did not reach production before the United States entered the war and became Britain’s principal supplier. Operations resumed in the 1920s, although by 1932 the production had fallen to 1.2 million litres following the Great Crash and Prohibition in the United States. 1928.  By 1933 production began to grow again, although production ceased on the outbreak of the 2nd World War. However once distillation began again, it took until 1955 for production levels to return to the 1914 high-watermark. In 1948 the 1st Saladin Maltings in Scotland were put into use on the site- this measure (previously used in France) reduced floor space and labour by employing forced ventilation and mechanical turning. By the 1960s however the company had acquired 2 warehouses in Westfield to store maltings, and by the end of the decade had added a new top-floor for extra office accommodation. In the 1960s and 1970s the distillery successfully revived ‘drum’ technology to keep the temperature of germinating malt at a constant. Despite a difficult period in the 1980s, the company began the 1990s as the only grain whisky producer in Edinburgh and with a record production of 41.7million litres. Currently the company operates from 2 sites at Wheatfield Road (warehousing) and the distilling site at Muirhall. Current demand for whisky is strong, and the company foresees a rosy future.

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Last modified: 01/09/2013