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Whiskymag 137 July _Aug 2016

Glen Albyn Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Speyside Distillery 1847-1983 Information

Glen Albyn Distillery History

Provost James Sutherland in1846 founded the first Glen Albyn Distillery, Gaelic for Great Glen. on the site of an old disused brewery. Three years later a fire destroyed several distillery buildings in 1849. The distillery was rebuilt and operational the following year.


At some point in 1855 James Sutherland was declared bankrupt so the distillery was offered for sale, no purchasers were found so the distillery was converted to a flourmill the following year


A new Glen Albyn was built in 1884 by Gregory & Co. and started producing in 1891. The location was Telford Street on the South bank of the Caledonian Canal. It is unclear if this distillery was built on the same location as the original distillery,


The distillery had excellent transport links as well as being located next to Caledonian Canal. Glen Albyn had its own railway siding linked to the main Highland Railway.


Glen Albyn at the time was regarded as one of the most sophisticated distilleries. The distillery had refrigerators to cool the wort. Also telephone connections between the distillery office, excise man and the head office in Inverness. The stills with their condensers were using the latest techniques.


Alfred Bernard recorded the following about his visit in the late 1870s: "The condensing Worms are of the latest and best approved style, each still has from 300 feet to 400 feet of worm pipes; these worts, after the first few rounds, each branch into two smaller pipes, and, instead of being of the usual round form, are shaped like the letter D, having the flat side down. The reason for this is obvious, the spirit which at first rises in steam is condensed into liquid by the time it reaches these smaller pipes, and having to run on the flat bottom of these is spread over a much larger surface than if running in round pipes, and thereby gives a greater increase in the cooling power, which is a most important factor in the making of a good Whisky. The stills, which were manufactured by Fleming, Bennet & McLaren, of Glasgow, are of the most improved and modern style."  


In 1892 the distillery manager was John Birnie. He had a keen eye for the potential of the distillery that he had helped to build and in his view it was only fair to receive a good share in the company. Mr Gregory laughed in his face John Birnie resigned to start his own distillery next door.


During the Great War Glen Albyn was requisitioned by the Admiralty and used for the construction of anti-submarine nets and sea mines.


At some stage in 1920 the former manager John Birnie (1892) now in partnership with James Mackinlay and owners of the neighbouring Glen Mhor Distillery acquired Glen Albyn.


In 1972 William Birnie, well in to his 80s, son of John Birnie, sold Glen Albyn and Glen Mhor to DCL.


The Saladin box malting were closed in 1980 due to high operating costs and the malt was brought in from elsewhere.


In 1983 the decision was taken to close Glen Albyn and Glen Mhor. Three years later in 1986 the remaining buildings were demolished to make way for a shopping centre. Now the location of a Comet electrical and Co-op Supermarket...


Glen Albyn Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Distillery Bottlings


Glen Albyn Single Malt Scotch Whisky 26 year old 1975 

Rare Malts Selection


Colour: Primrose yellow


Aromatic soapy aromas, firm body and buttery, smooth character of this big Highland malt, with its explosive bitter finish


Glen Albyn Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Independent Bottlings  



Rare Vintage (Gordon & MacPhail),

Old Malt Cask (Douglas Laing),

Rarest of the Rare (Duncan Taylor).


Glen Albyn Distillery, Telford Street Inverness



Now site of a supermarket

Glen Albyn Single Malt

Scotch Whisky

Distillery Style Tasting Notes


Nose: Light, delicate, fragrant, faint smoke.


Palate: Firm, sweet, fruity, nutty, spicy.


Finish: Vanilla and malt with a late smokiness.


Founded in 1846 by Provost James Sutherland

Location Speyside Region Inverness district

Water source Loch ness


Distillery site now the location of a Comet electrical and Co-op Supermarket