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Devanha Distillery

1825-34 William B. Fisher & Co. Founded as a Brewery whose owner added a Distillery on the premises 1837. Later, in 1852 it was acquired by William Black & Co. who operated it until 1910 (See Brewers).  It is believed that new owners operated the Distillery until 1915 when it definitely shut its doors. It was situated on the Riverside Drive near the Dee, downstream from the Railway Bridge.  The Brewery took the Roman name for the area of Aberdeen. With its 2 Pot stills and 14/4.000 gallon Washbacks it had an annual production of 220.000 gallons. Water for process was city water and water for cooling was drawn from River Dee. The buildings, very modernised are still standing; it went out of production in 1909.

William Black & Co. also ran the Devanha Brewery, built about a mile downstream from the Distillery which was on Riverside Drive halfway between the Railway Viaduct and Wellington bridge

In 1885 Alfred Barnard (1837-1918) Brewing and Distilling Historian visited over 150 distilleries, and amongst them were 129 Scottish distilleries. Of course he also visited the Devanha Distillery.

Description - on entering the City of Aberdeen by the Railway from the South, the attention is at once attracted by the Devanha Distillery, which, seen from the lofty rail bridge, has a very imposing appearance. It is situated on the banks of the beautiful River Dee, within 2 miles of its confluence with the North Sea, and nearly a mile distant from Aberdeen. The works, which have a frontage to the River of some 500 feet, are built principally of granite, and separated from the Dee by a splendid esplanade, which has been recently constructed, and cost the city £95,000.  This Distillery, which was established many years ago, consists of 2 quadrangles, the main buildings of bath abutting on the railway.

Mr. Flockhart, the General manager, showed us over the place, We commenced at the South buildings facing the river, which are enclosed in a court yard, passing through a gateway, we ascended an outside stone staircase to the top floor, which is one of the Barley Barns, and is 150 feet long by 50 feet broad thence through an archway, shut off by a double pair of iron doors, into the left- hand angle of the building. This floor is 120 feet long and 60 feet broad, and the 2 Granaries are capable of holding 10,000 quarters of grain. The barley is lifted by an enclosed hoist outside the building, the wheel of which is attached to a wire rope stretching 200 yards over the roof to the steam-engine in the Distillery. The 2 floors underneath the 1st building we entered are concreted and used for malting purposes; they possess 2 Steeps, each capable of wetting 60 quarters at a time. The basement of this building is used as a Bonded Warehouse. Under the Granary floor of the left angle are 3 other floors, all Bonded Warehouses. From the Maltings we passed into the Kiln, a lofty, building nearly 80 feet high and 36 feet square; it is floored with perforated iron plates, and peat, with a small ad mixture of coke, is used in the drying. The malt is raised by elevators to the Kiln floor. In the same building are the Malt Stores, immediately connected with the Kiln, capable of holding together 2,000 quarters. Under these stores there is a large shed filled with peat we next returned to the esplanade, and entered by a postern door into the Distillery proper. After inspecting the duty-paid Racking Store just inside the court, we mounted a stair to the balcony, which runs along in front of the Excise and Distillery Offices. This balcony, which is reached at the other end by stone steps, overhangs the Worm Tub, which is stretched out before the office windows, like a small lake, and is nearly 100 feet long, in which are laid several 100 feet of worm coils. As we stood at the end of this terrace or balcony, we obtained a fine view of the River and its picturesque surroundings. The malt is brought from the Malt Deposit direct to the Mill in the enclosure, which place we next visited, where it is pulverized between a set of Malt-rollers, after which the grist is raised by elevators to the Hopper in the Refrigerator room, and from thence screwed away into a smaller receptacle over the Mash House. In this room, besides 2 of Miller's Refrigerators, there are 2 Worts Receivers and a large Heating Copper, and on our way down we passed other 2 Heating Coppers, supported on iron columns, and commanding the Mash-tuns below. When we reached the ground level we were taken to see the 2 separate Brewing Houses, each containing a Mash-tun, and no other vessel. The No. 1 vessel is 10 1/2 feet in diameter and 5 feet deep, and No. 2 vessel is 12 feet in diameter and 5 feet deep, each having connected therewith a Steel's Mashing Machine and the usual stirring gear. Our guide then conducted us down same stone steps to the 2 chambers underneath, each of which contains an Underback, holding 1,900 gallons, and made out of .the former Mash-tuns, which did duty in this Distillery at the time of its foundation. From this stone chamber the worts are pumped up to the top of the building into the Refrigerators, and from thence by gravitation they run into the Washbacks. There are a couple of Tun Rooms in this establishment, wherein are placed 14 Washbacks, each holding 4,000 gallons.

Continuing our progress, we inspected the Engine House, which contains a 25hp power horizontal engine and a steam boiler and pumps. At the end of an open path we come to the new Still House, a large and lofty building, concreted and well lighted. Here, on a gallery, is placed the Wash Charger, which commands the Stills, and holds 4,500 gallons. There are 2 Pot Stills - the Wash Still, which holds 3,300 gallons, and the Spirit Still, 2,800 gallons, a Low-wines and Feints Receiver, a Spirit Receiver, and the Safe. At the back of the Still House, enclosed by the high embankment of the railway, is the Spirit Store, wherein is a vat holding 6,000 gallons; the small paved yard in front is covered with empty casks, waiting to be filled. Distributed about the premises are 4 Bonded Warehouses.

We then retraced our way to the main entrance, and our guide conducted us to an old building which had escaped our notice, and adjoins the Brewer's residence. It is the old Distilling House, erected many years ago, and still used by the firm. It contains 2 Pot Stills of very ancient pattern; one of them, a Wash Still, holds 2,315 gallons; the other, a Spirit Still holds 1,338 gallons, a Wash Charger, and 2 Receivers of similar capacity as the Stills also the Safe and Sampling Safe, etc.  Adjoining this building' there is a Carpenter's Shop, Cooperage, etc. Fire plugs are fixed all over the premises, and hand buckets on the Doors, which are always filled ready for use in case of fire. There are fine springs on the premises, but the water used in mashing comes from the City Waterworks, and the condensing water is pumped up from the Dee.  The Whisky made is from Malt only, and the annual output is 220,000 gallons.  The Bonded Stores can hold 6,000 hogsheads of Whisky, and are considered by the Excise some of the finest and best arranged Warehouses in the country.

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Last modified: 01/09/2013