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Issue 70 - Bowling for Littlemill

Whisky Magazine Issue 70
February 2008


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Bowling for Littlemill

Gavin D.Smith investigates the lost fortunes of Glasgow's other distillery.

Littlemill distillery stood on the north bank of the River Clyde at Bowling, 12 miles from Glasgow, and just a short distance from Auchentoshan.

However, the contrast in recent fortunes of the two distilleries could hardly be more different.

While Auchentoshan is a thriving, Lowland malt whisky region survivor and the last distillery in Scotland to practice full triple distillation, Littlemill has vanished into the pages of whisky history.

The first official record of Littlemill dates from 1772,when the wealthy Glaswegian maltster George Buchanan of the Auchterlonie Estate built accommodation for the distillery's excise officers. It has been suggested that Littemill was a working distillery when Buchanan purchased the estate in 1750.

What seems more likely is that Littlemill was developed within a former brewery which had been established in the 1750s,and distilling commenced in 1772.A date-stone with 1772 engraved on it, which could be seen on a gable in the east block of the distillery until its demolition.

But distilling on the site may actually have been taking place as long ago as the 14th century, predating the first surviving attestation of Scotch whisky in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland (1494) by more than a century.What is certain is that by the time of its closure in 1992, Littlemill could justifiably lay claim to the title of Scotland's oldest active distillery.

From 1825 to 1835 Littlemill was licensed to Jane MacGregor, one of the first women to have a leg...

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