As whisky continues to boom, prices of bottles of closed distilleries also enjoy higher and higher values. A byproduct of this is that many of the deleted whisky books themselves also enjoy a new life; a scarcity and perceived value.
Many are not financially viable to be reprinted, their wisdom and imperfections are lost to time. Here, on this page, we'll devour and assimilate every punch of a typewriter when it comes to the collective written works, or thoughts, on Millburn. The works themselves remain the property of their respective authors.
In doing this, we hope that you will learn and appreciate Millburn even more. And save yourself a few pennies by not chasing down rare books only to be disappointed by the contents. What's also noticeable is that Millburn sometimes isn't even mentioned, for instance in Mark Skipworth's The Scotch Whisky Book, published in 1987 and 1992.
We'll start our summary with perhaps the most influential of the distillery visitors, Alfred Barnard embarked on his epic tour of distilleries (1885-1887) and visited Millburn along with Glen Albyn in Inverness. Sadly, his trip came a few years too early for Glen Mhor. But he was quite taken with the city, with his introduction confirming its charms. His description of Millburn takes up only one page and is purely by the numbers; which we often see with Barnard when he's not enchanted by the distillery or the welcome received. In comparison, Glen Albyn's write up is more than double in size and full of even more detail.
Alfred Barnard, Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom, 1887
'It has a very handsome appearance and is built principally of stone. The open cooperage, generally an unsightly building, is here beautified with enclosed trellis-work, painted a rich green.
The distillery was established in the year 1805, and rebuilt on a larger and more improved scale in 1876. Entering the gateway we crossed the Mill Burn, a pretty stream which rattles under the bridge on its way to the sea. On the right hand side of the enclosure, and at the back of the offices, we were shown the Barley Lofts and Malting Floors, which consist of a range of buildings divided into several floors. The Steeps for wetting the barley are constructed with metal and fixed on the Barley Loft, discharging their contents underneath to the malting floors below. The Kiln is in close proximity, and peat only is used in drying the malt.
The Distilling and Mash House is a spacious and loft building, in the centre of the courtyard and facing the entrance gates. It contains a Heating Copper of 1,600 gallons content, and a metal Mash Tun with the usual revolving stirring gear.
Leaving this department for awhile, our guide next conducted us to the Tun Room, on the other side of the yard, a clean and well-lighted building, which contains four Washbacks, each holding 4,000 gallons.
We then retraced our steps to the larger building, which communicates with the various departments on either side. On a gallery we observed the Wash Charger, which holds 3,000 gallons and a Refrigerator. Standing on the Floor are two old Pot Stills and in close proximity is the Low-wines and Feints Charger, holding 1,300 gallons, a Low-wines and Feints Receiver of the same capacity, and a Spirit Receiver of 1,200 gallons content. We next paid a visit to the Spirits Store, which contains two Vats, each holding 600 gallons, and the usual weighting and casking apparatus. From thence we directed our steps to the three spacious Bonded Warehouses and the Bottling Store. This last is a well-arranged department fitted up with all necessary appliances and machinery.
In addition to the cooperage already referred to, there is a carpenter's shop, and capital offices for the distillery and Excise clerks. The Whisky manufactured is pure Highland Malt, and the annual output is 60,000 gallons.'
Charles Maclean's Whiskypedia, 2009
'Historical notes: It is not known for certain when Millburn was established, possibly in 1807, though the first written record was in 1825. The site is about a mile east of the centre of Inverness, adjacent to the former Cameron Highlanders barracks.
Production ceased in 1837. In 1853, the feu was taken by a local corn merchant, David Rose, who used the building as a flour mill - there were five mills drawing water from the Mill Burn at that time. In 1876 he applied to use the town water supply and commissioned a new and larger distillery on the site.
The property went to David Rose's son, George, in 1883 and he sold to Alexander Price Haig and his brother David, of the famous distilling dynasty, in 1892. They refurbished: 'the whole of the internal arrangements have been remodelled and the plant and machinery are entirely new'. But the depression in the industry following World War I persuaded them to sell to Booth's Distillers Ltd, the famous gin makers, in 1921, for £25,000. In April the following year fire destroyed most of the distillery buildings and large stocks of barley and malt, the cost estimated at £40,000. The fire brigade was 'greatly assisted' by men of the Cameron Highlanders in controlling the fire: Lt Col. David Price Haig had been a territorial officer in the regiment for 30 years.
Reconstruction was entrusted to Charles Doig of Elgin, and the new distillery, which opened in 1887, was capable of producing 150,000 gallons a year - nearly twice the former output.
Booth's bought Wm Sanderson & Son Ltd (blenders of VAT 69) in 1935, and was itself taken over by D.C.L. in 1937, and managed by S.M.D. from 1943. Production ceased during Worl War II. In 1958 mechanical stoking was installed, and the two stills were converted to indirect firing by steam coils in 1966. Saladin box maltings had been installed two years before, when electric power was also introduced.
Curiosities: Booth's Distillery Ltd, the famous gin distillers, used the make for their house whisky, Cabinet, and later for VAT 69. Under S.M.D., Millburn was licensed to Macleay Duff and went into their blends, including a blended malt at 12yo.
The buildings that once housed the distillery now house the Auld Distillery Restaurant and Pub, which has some interesting whisky memorabilia.'
Malt Whisky File, John Lamond, 1995
'Said to have been founded by a Mr Welsh. The earliest recorded reference held by United Distillers dates from 1825, when James Rose and Alexander Macdonald were named as the license holders. Used as a flour mill until 1853, it was rebuilt and re-opened on 28th September 1876. It was then remodelled internally in late 1898. Owned from 1921 to 1937 by gin distillers, Booth's, who were themselves taken over by DCL in that year. Management was transferred to SMD in 1943. Two stills.
Location - Millburn was located about one mile east of the centre of Inverness, on the banks of the Mill Burn from which the distillery and the district take their name.
Notes - Fire broke out on 26 April 1922, but the local fire brigade 'greatly assisted' by the Cameron Highlanders, saved the stillhouse and storage warehouses. The commander of the 3rd Battalion Lt-Col. David Price Haig, had owned the distillery until 1921. The site was sold for property development in 1988 and the buildings remain as the 'Beefeater Distillery Restaurant'.
Water: Loch Duntelchaig.'
Malt Whisky The Complete Guide, Charles MacLean, 2010
Noted 2nd Class, by blenders¹.
'Said to have been founded as early as 1807, and originally called Inverness Distillery, by the end of the nineteenth century Millburn had been completely rebuilt. In 1892 it was bought by two members of the Haig family, who extensively refurbished it. Millburn was then sold to Booth's, the gin distiller, in 1921. Destroyed by fire a year later, it was rebuilt and sold to DCL in 1937. Closed in 1985 and converted to a "Beefeater" steakhouse.'
Michael Jackson's Malt Whisky Companion, 6th Edition, 2010
'As the train from London finishes its 11-hour journey to Inverness, it glides by recognizable distillery buildings that are now a pub-steakhouse. At least there is still drink on the premises.
Millburn is believed to have dated from 1807, and its buildings from 1876 and 1922. It was owned for a time by Haig's. The distillery closed in 1985, Whiskies distilled a decade earlier have been released at 18 and now 25, as Rare Malts.'
Scotch Missed, Brian Townsend, 2015
'Millburn was by far the oldest distillery in Inverness and, by some quirk of fate, the only one still standing - though it is now a steakhouse restaurant. However, today's building is almost certainly not the original but stems from the distillery's extension and reconstruction in 1876.
The early 1843-82 OS six-inch map series refers to the mill it may have at one stage become, but the later 1904 25-inch OS map clearly indicates the location as a distillery. Frustratingly, its situation being originally rural has meant that early maps of Inverness never show it.
Millburn has had a very varied existence that could justify a small book rather than the synopsis given here. It was built a mile from town, just off the main Elgin road and under the sheer brow of a hill beside the Mill Burn, which supplied cooling water and gave it its name. Process water was brought - thought not necessarily when the distillery was first built - eight miles by pipeline from Loch Duntelchaig. It was originally established around 1805-1807 by a Mr Welsh, petered into obscurity for 20 years, then was licensed in 1825 to Messrs Rose & Macdonald. Their company was dissolved in 1829. Over the next decade it was sold or leased to no fewer than three different operators, was defunct by 1851 and acquired around 1853 by David Rose, a corn merchant, probably for use as a mill. Certainly, it was not registered as a distillery for more than 20 years.
It was rebuilt as a distillery in 1876 and within two years had built up sufficient repute to win an order to send a large whisky consignment to the British garrison on Cyprus. In 1881 Mr Rose's son, George, took over and it was he who welcomed Barnard when he visited five years later. In 1892 it was bought by the Andrew Haig organisation and the company was renamed Millburn Distillery Co in 1904. In 1921 Millburn was acquired by Booth's of London gin fame, who were to see it burn down shortly after they bought it. It was rebuilt in 1922 and, despite the struggle of the years between the wars, it kept going with only occasional downtime until it was acquired by DCL in 1943.
DCL operated it until the early 1980's downturn, which led to its closure in early 1985. It was bought by the Beefeater restaurant chain around 1990 and is now a restaurant and bar operating under the name 'The Auld Distillery'.
It could be argued that Millburn had ceased to be viable with the arrival of the new, custom-built automated distilleries of the 1970s and 1980s. It was on a small cramped site at Diriebught, hemmed in on virtually all sides by a steep hill, a road and a river. Expansion was not possible and, with the growth of Inverness, it sat in an urban rather than semi-rural setting. Its whisky,although good, was relatively obscure as a single malt. Its equipment and outbuildings were also outdated and too small. Its closure in hindsight was inevitable. However, its use as a steakhouse has allowed many features of the distillery to be retained, as well as its historic link with Highland hospitality. Amid the many sadder stories to follow in this book, one has to admit that Millburn has had a relatively happy ending.'
Scotch Whisky dot com
'Millburn was always a small site – something which earmarked it for closure in the great cull of the early 1980s. Almost inevitably the casks which have leaked onto the market since then, often with good length of maturation, have shown it to be an excellent and slightly smoky malt in the bold Inverness style. The oldest examples from refill casks have a wonderful tropical fruit/leather interplay.'
Scotch Whisky, Gavin D. Smith, 2000
'The Highland capital of Inverness has grown in size dramatically during the past two decades, but in that time the town has seen its links with distilling disappear. More than a dozen distilleries are recorded as having existed in Inverness at various times, and three survived until the 1980s. Some of Millburn distillery is still extant, but the other two Inverness distilleries were not so lucky, and no trace remains of either Glen Albyn or Glen Mhor, which formerly stood on the western outskirts of the town.'
'Millburn was founded in about 1807, and was situated a mile from the centre of town. The plant was substantially rebuilt in 1876, and what remains today dates from that time. The distillery was acquired by DCL in 1943, and became a casualty of the whisky recession of the early 1980s, which saw such radical pruning by the company. Millburn closed in 1985, but some of the site has found a new lease of life as a restaurant.'
The hub of the Highlands : the book of Inverness and district, Inverness Field Club, 1990
'The Burgh Steeple, at the corner of Church Street and High Street, was built in 1791, William Sibbald being the architect; he also designed the spires of St. Andrew’s Church in Edinburgh and of Inveresk Church. The Steeple was built by public subscription under Provost Inglis. The upper part of the spire was badly bent in an earth tremor in 1816 and had to be rebuilt. In the larger of the two balls below the weathercock is said to be a bottle of whisky from the Millburn Distillery?. The Court House, now the Prudential office, adjoins the Steeple and was built just after it and in the same classical style. The balustrading along the top has unfortunately been replaced by solid masonry.'
'Inverness was famed for years as a malting town. Millburn Distillery and Glen Albyn and Glen Mhor Distilleries have been producing for 100 years, making their own malt, although great problems arose when America introduced prohibition in 1923. All these distilleries are now owned by two large Scottish concerns, although the last was privately owned until recently. Millburn produces an excess of malt for other distilleries in its group. In 1968, three young men from England set up in Inverness the Moray Firth Maltings Ltd., which has re- established Inverness as an important malting centre.'
'Now we come to the last trio in this pen-point analysis of the whiskies of Inverness and District. Taking them in chronological order, a start is made with Millburn. Although the oldest in Inverness, it is not as well known as the other two, or possibly it has not been so recently “in the news.” The distillery stands beside the eastern access road, about a mile from the town centre and is situated under the brow of a steep hill, facing north towards the sea. It was first established in 1805, and then rebuilt on a larger and improved scale in 1876, when its annual output rose to some 60,000 proof gallons of Highland Malt Whisky. Later developments and expansion have increased this production figures enormously, but the cramped nature of the site has presented some difficulties. Indeed, it is difficult, when driving into the Highland capital, to realise that an entire modern distillery lies behind its stone boundary wall. Originally Millburn had its own cooperage, and even now the site still manages to include some employees’ cottages.'
The Making of Scotch Whisky, Michael S. Moss & John R. Hume, 1981
'Said to have been founded in 1807 and operated by Mr Welsh. Alexander McCallum & Co were operating in Inverness 1817-21, possibly on this site, but the earliest positive reference to Millburn is 1825, when it was licensed to Rose & Macdonald; diss 1829; McDonald, Leslie & Co, diss 1832; continued as Macdonald & Co; diss 1837, and continued by Colin Chisholm. Not operating 1851, but taken over 1853 by David Rose, corn merchant, probably for use as a mill, as no references in 1860 or 1867 directories. Rebuilt 1876 and operated from 1881 by his son George, from whom it was acquired 1892 by A. Haig & Co; renamed the Millburn Distillery Co 1904. Acquired 1921 by Booth's Distillery Ltd and rebuilt after a fire 1922. Purchased 1943 by SMD Ltd. Two stills.'
The World Guide to Whisky, Michael Jackson, 1988
'Millburn (one word and no article) is the track-side distillery that greets sleepy-eyed travellers as the night-train from London ends its eleven-hour journey in Inverness each morning. A rich, delicious single malt, but hard to find.'
¹ These ratings were taken from a 1974 classification used by a major blender. The levels are Top, 1st, 2nd and 3rd class. For an Inverness comparison, Glen Mhor and Glen Albyn were both rated, 3rd class.