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Issue 81 - Fort William's loss

Whisky Magazine Issue 81
July 2009

 

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Fort William's loss

Gavin D.Smith charts the history of one of the two Fort William distilleries,Glenlochy.

This issue we head back across the Irish Sea to Scotland, and visit the popular holiday centre of Fort William in the north-west Highlands. Here the lifespan of Glenlochy distillery mirrors all too many of the sites featured in this series,being established in a blast of optimism during the 1890s whisky boom and closing in the 1980s, when the ‘whisky' loch of over-production was threatening to burst its banks.

The Glenlochy-Fort William Distillery Co Ltd was formed in 1897, and took its name from the River Lochy, which flows through Fort William into Loch Lochy.

Glenlochy is Gaelic for ‘valley of the black goddess.' The distillery company was headed by David McAndie of Nairn's Glen Cawdor distillery,and production commenced in April 1901. Sensing a quick profit, McAndie sold his share in the distillery within a year of it opening, netting £7,500 in the process. This was more than four times his initial investment, but doubtless the profit would have been significantly larger, had it not been for the fact that by this time the whisky ‘bubble'had burst,and many companies in the Scotch whisky industry were struggling for survival.

Glenlochy was not immune to the ongoing economic situation, closing from 1917 until 1924,when it was revived by a consortium of English brewers,who had purchased the distillery from its liquidators in 1920. The new owners proved no more successful than their predecessors,however, and just two years later Glenlochy fell silent again.

It was s...

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