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Issue 92 - Stromness' still

Whisky Magazine Issue 92
December 2010

 

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Stromness' still

Gavin D Smith looks at one of Orkney's lost distilleries

Many visitors to the Orkney Islands make a pilgrimage to Highland Park distillery, on the outskirts of the island capital of Kirkwall, and the more dedicated whisky buffs also take a look at Scapa, located within sight of Highland Park.

Apart from these two survivors, however, there were as many as six licensed distilleries in and around Kirkwall during the 1820s and two distilleries in Orkney's secondlargest town of Stromness. One of the Stromness pair only operated from 1825 until 1831, but the principal Stromness distillery lasted well into the 20th century.

It was established close to the harbour by John Crookshanks in 1817, and was named Stromness distillery, but the whisky it produced was sold for many years as Man O'Hoy, after one of Orkney's most distinctive landmarks, the red sandstone sea stack off the island of Hoy.

Stromness was in the hands of no fewer than six individuals before closing in 1867, but 1878 saw it restored to use by the Macpherson brothers, who renamed the distillery itself Man O'Hoy and marketed its whisky as Old Orkney, or ‘OO'.

The Macphersons ran Stromness distillery until it was acquired somewhere between 1900 and 1910 by Belfast-based J&J McConnell Ltd, who operated it through their McConnell's Distillery Ltd, London subsidiary.

However, the harsh economic climate of the inter-war years forced its closure in 1928. It was subsequently owned for a time by Booths Distilleries, but the distillery buildings were demolished during the 1940s,...

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