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Issue 97 - English Heritage

Whisky Magazine Issue 97
July 2011

 

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English Heritage

Gavin D. Smith concludes his look at lost distilleries

In the last issue we explored the history of whisky distilling in the somewhat unlikely location of Liverpool, and we conclude this series with a look at the whisky-making heritage of Bristol and London.
Like Liverpool, Bristol and London were both historically major ports, and Bristol had a very long-standing involvement with the wine trade.
The city's whisky distillery is thought to have been established around 1761, and was located in Cheese Lane, just north-east of the River Avon in the St Philips district.
Ownership was variously in the hands of Thomas Castle & Co and Thomas Harris & Co, and subsequently members of the Board family, who created the limited liability Bristol Distilling Company in 1863.
Although the Cheese Lane plant was the only one producing whisky, Bristol was a notable centre for distillation, and in 1789 local historian William Barrett wrote of “…many great works (distilleries) being erected at amazing expense in different parts of the city.”
By 1825 the city boasted five distilleries and was sending boat-loads of spirit to London and
other destinations.
A large barley field was situated next to the Cheese Lane distillery to provide grain for distillation, and when Alfred Barnard visited during the mid-1880s, annual output was in the region of 637,000 gallons, which sold principally in Leith, Belfast, London and Bristol.
Barnard wrote that “The ‘make' is Grain Whisky and plain spirit, the latter being sold to Rectifiers for the manufac...

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