distillery was first started in 1824 by a Captain Barclay of
provide a market for Barley in an agricultural depression.
Weeks after opening, a fire destroyed stocks of barley, along with the Kiln and
parts of the malting floor. Two weeks after the fire, worker Andrew Clark
died in a boiler accident. Robert Barclay died in 1854, and the
distillery was auctioned to William Richie 3 years late.
The main source of power at the time was a
that was doing almost everything: driving the gearing for the Mash Tun, the Sack
Hoist and the
in the Wash Still. There was no
and it’s only when the distillery was reconstructed, in 1965-1966, that electric
power replaced waterpower.
Aberdeen Journal wrote: “This
extensive an very complete Malt Distillery is situated within a mile of the
seaport of Stonehaven and 15 miles south of Aberdeen. It is capable of
distilling 120,000 gallons of whisky annually, and in consequence of the perfect
system of machinery (all propelled by
the expense of manual labour is greatly reduced… The whisky produced at the
works has long stood in high repute both in the Scottish and English markets”.
King William IV
authorized the Distillery to add "Royal" to its name in
is also due to the personality of
who referred to his Queen as
A Contemporary Visit to 'Glenury
(1837-1918) Brewing and Distilling Historian visited over 150 distilleries, and
amongst them were 129 Scottish distilleries.
made a brief halt at Stonehaven to see the Glenury Distillery, and
visit the celebrated ruins for which the town is famous. Who has not heard of
Dunnottar Castle, which farms one of the most majestic ruins in Scotland. We
drove direct to it from the station, and were amply repaid for our trouble. It
is situated on the site of a stupendous perpendicular rock, 160 feet high, which
projects into the sea, and is al most separated from the land by a deep chasm,
forming a natural rosse. The Castle consists of a series of stately towers, and
other buildings; and before the advent of artillery was quite impregnable. We
drove back by car of the town to the Distillery, which is planted on the banks
of the Cowie, and takes its name from the Glen Ury, through which
the river passes on its way to the sea. After crossing the Cowie we
ascended a gentle acclivity, and reached Glenury by a road cut through
the face of a sandy hill, which on one side shelters the establishment. The
situation of the Distillery is most picturesque, the lofty railway
viaduct, which crosses the glen, adding beauty to the scene. It is a mile
from the town, station, and sea shore. The Works, which cover 3-1/2 acres
of ground, consist of several ranges of stone buildings; the central block
contains the Distilling and Brewing houses, and the outer ones the Granaries,
Maltings, and Warehouses.
Glenury Distillery (Barclay MacDonald & Co) was founded about the year
1825 by Captain Robert Barclay-Allardyce (1779-1854) the
local Laird and Army Officer and well known Champion Pedestrian,
who walked a 1000 miles in 1000 hours for 1000 Guineas at Newmarket. He
carried on a most successful business, and later it was acquired by Mr.
William Ritchie, the present proprietor, who has since made many additions
and improvements in the place, and increased the annual output considerably.
Watt, the Manager, 1st conducted us to the Granaries and Maltings
which stand in a delightful old-fashioned garden, and in same places the river
almost washes the walls. The No.1 and No. 2 Maltings are neat
stone building of 4 flats, 2 of them appropriated for barley storage, the
others for Malting Floors, these last are concreted and have metal
Steeps. The No. 3 Granary building is divided from the No. 1 and No.
2 by the Kilns and Excise Offices, and is not quite so lofty,
having only 3 floors, 2 for barley, and the bottom a Malting Floor
with a Metal Steep. Served by these Maltings are 2 Kilns, both
connected by an overhead bridge, across which the malt is wheeled the floors are
of wire cloth and the furnaces are fired with peat. On the level of the
Kiln Floor is the Malt Deposit, and adjoining is the Mill,
above which is the Grist Loft. A water cistern stretches over the
pathway from the roof of the Mill House to the Still. House, and
holds 50,000 gallons of water, which is pumped up from the river.
bridge forms the communication between the Grist Loft and Mash House,
over which the ground malt is conveyed direct into the Tun. Following our
guide we entered the Mash House, a spacious apartment containing a metal
Mash-Tun 17 feet in diameter, possessing the usual stirring gear and
draining plates. On a gallery we observed 2 boiling coppers with a
capacity of 6,000 gallons, and sunk into the pavement outside are the two
Underbacks. The worts are pumped up to 2 old-fashioned fan coolers
in the roof of the Back House, in which the fans are driven by a
water-wheel. Ascending 2 pairs of stairs we reached the top staging of the
Back House, wherein are 5 Washbacks, each holding 6,000 gallons,
switched by water power. This house is 90 feet long and 30 feet wide. We
next retraced our steps to the courtyard, and came to the Still House,
passing on our way a fine Worts and Wash Pump, driven by water
power. This building is 54 feet square, and contains a Wash Charger
holding 7,000 gallons, and a Low-wines and Feints Charger 3,000 gallons,
bath new vessels, and placed on a platform supported by iron pillars. On the
floor of the house are 2 old Pot Stills, one of them a Wash Still,
holds 4,000 gallons, the other a Spirit Still of 3,000 gallons, also a
Low-wines and Feints Receiver, and Spirit Receiver, the former
holding 2,500 gallons, the latter 3,000 gallons, and a Spirit Safe.
to the Spirit Still there is a brass Charging Gauge, an ingenious
device for preventing accidents whilst the Still is being charged. The
Worm Tub consists of a huge cement tank 80 feet long and 12 feet wide,
wherein are laid 900 feet of copper worm; all the water used in the
Distillery runs through this receptacle from the aqueduct above, turning a
large water-wheel, which drives all the motive power in the place. On
leaving the water tank we raid a brief visit to the Spirit Store,
containing a vat holding 4,000 gallons, and to the 5 Warehouses,
capable of holding nearly 10,000 casks. There is also a large new warehouse of 2
storeys, in the town, of 120 feet square, in 4 sections, which contained 350,000
gallons at the time of our visit.
the Distillery yard there is a Racking Store, also a Cooperage,
over which is a carpenter's shop containing an engine, made by a
workman in the place, for driving 3 turning lathes and 2 sawing
machines ; also a joiners' and engineers' shop. Home-grown barley
only is used; the district being celebrated for the fine quality of the barley.
There are 3 Excise Officers, besides the Supervisor, Mr. H. Thompson. The
make is Highland Malt, and the annual output is about 132,000 gallons.
In May 1985
production was stopped because of a recession in the whisky industry although
it could be re-opened in a few years time if the recession passed. It was bought
by Distillers Company Limited in 1953 and is operated by the
subsidiary company Scottish Malt Distillers (SMD) Glenury stands on a
site of about 1 hectare with 5.5 hectares of farm land owned by SMD and let to
tenants. At the beginning of 1985 there was a total workforce of 17.
Other Whisky brands included Garron,
Downie and Old Angus. A blend was named King William IV
The Aberdeen Journal, June 2nd, 1819
1st June, 1819 - A most distressing accident happened here yesterday
afternoon. Just as the mail coach was descending from the Bridge of Cowie,
and making a quick turn into the Bridge Street, a child of between 3 and
4 years of age, belonging to Mr David Henderson, merchant here,
unfortunately chanced to be in the way of the coach and but a very little
distance ahead of her, when running to get out of the road, it fell just before
the horses and although every possible exertion was made by the driver to stop
the horses and by some people near at the time to save the child, one of the
wheels passed over the poor infant's head and part of the breast and crushed it
to death. The whole blame lies in the abominable bridge over the Cowie Water
- its excessive narrowness and steepness besides the acute turn which it causes
in running into the town of Stonehaven. It is much to be wished that a new
bridge were put up, of the proper breadth and higher up the water for no person
can be safe to pass the present one on foot at any time but particularly at
Journal, June 9th, 1819
week, without any object but the common wages of industry, a labourer
in Stonehaven, in the course of one day, carried from a vessel in the harbour,
across the deck of another vessel, 600 bags of coals, and placed them in
carts on the quay, thus having borne on his back the astonishing weight of 38
tons, and walked during the time on very insecure footing, about 9 miles.
The Aberdeen Journal, February 3rd, 1819
Barclay of Ury has given 50 Bolls of Coals to the poor in the Newtown of
Stonehaven. For several preceding winters he has made the same generous donation
to the great benefit of many indigent families.
The Aberdeen Journal, December 18th, 1822
consequence of information lodged with Messrs George Sutherland, riding
officer of Excise, and John Anderson, supernumerary, of Aberdeen
Collection, they proceeded on the morning of the 10th inst, to the farm of
Crossgate, parish of Dunnottar, where they discovered an extensive
private distillery at work, in which were 3 tuns, containing 210 gallons of
wash, in a state of fermentation, which they destroyed. One mash tun,
upwards of 200 gallons content, and from which worts of a very high
gravity were running off, 2 coppers at work boiling worts, and and 5
bags, containing 20 bushels of dried malt, they seized and lodged in the
Excise Office, Stonehaven. The distillery, being contiguous to a small
rivulet, was calculated to defraud the Revenue of a very considerable amount
The Aberdeen Journal, January 8th, 1823
Friday night , Captain Barclay of Ury's Gamekeeper, in returning from
Stonehaven, missed his way, and by some traces of him to the bank of the water
of Cowie, it is but too certain that he is unfortunately drowned. Every
search has been made for his body, but without effect. He has left a widow.
The Aberdeen Journal, April 20th, 1825
We are sorry to learn, that between 2 and 3 o'clock in the afternoon of Saturday
last, a fire broke out in the malting premises of Messrs Barclay, Macdonald,
and Co., Distillers at Glenury, near Stonehaven, which spread
with the utmost rapidity, and in the course of little more than an hour, burnt
down the Kiln, the greater part of the Grain Lofts and Malting Barn, and
also the stock of Barley and malt belonging to the company, notwithstanding the
great exertions made by the people connected with the work, assisted by a large
body of men from Stonehaven. The Distillery is separated from these buildings by
the mill-lade, but communicated with them at upper storey, by means of a
covered passage or platform. The flames laid hold of this passage, and extended
to part of the roof of the Distillery, when a few intrepid individuals, at the
hazard of their own lives, dashed into the passage, and by quickly demolishing
it, removed the communication between the 2 buildings and thereby saved the
Distillery, Spirit Cellar, and whole brewing and distilling machinery. The
flames in the meantime raged with the greatest fury in the malting premises, and
although by 4 o'clock of the afternoon, it was so far got under as to prevent
any further risk, the ruins continued smoking all night and the greater part of
the following day. It was purely accidental.
The Aberdeen Journal, May 11th, 1825
Saturday last, about 1 o'clock, Andrew Clark, one of the workmen employed
at Glenury Distillery, being sent to examine the state of the great
boiler, by some unfortunate accident fell backwards into it and was so
dreadfully burned, that he died in extreme agony at 7 o'clock in the evening.
The water was nearly at boiling point, and he was entirely immersed in it.
No one was at hand but Mr Buchanan, the distiller, who rushed to his
assistance and had his hands and arms dreadfully scalded in pulling him out;
indeed the heat of the liquor and the weight of the unfortunate man had nearly
overcome him, so that it was with difficulty he escaped being drawn into the
boiler himself, by his humane exertion; on behalf of the sufferer, who, we
understand, was but recently married.
The Aberdeen Journal, December 17th, 1828
time past a man and a woman from the sister isle have been gulling a number of
the natives of Stonehaven, by selling grain Whiskey for Highland smuggled; and
the same article for foreign Brandy, the flavour and colouring being given to it
by some pernicious mixtures. We think it right to put the inhabitants on their
guard against characters of this description.
The Aberdeen Journal, November 18th, 1829
Glenury Distillery Company have now nearly completed a passage, for
conveyance of water to their premises, of about 85 yards in length, cut through
The Aberdeen Journal, March 7th, 1832
Barclay of Ury has placed 50 bolls of coals at the disposal of the Church
Session, for distribution among the poor in the new town of Stonehaven; and, we
understand, he has intimated to the Board of Health in Stonehaven, that he will
readily furnish a suitable home for an Hospital, should cholera make its
appearance in that town.
The Aberdeen Journal, June 18th, 1834
Robert Barclay Allardyce of Ury and Allardyce has presented a petition to
the House of Lords claiming the Earldom of Airth which has been referred
to the Committee of Privileges to meet on the 23rd inst. In his claim Captain
Barclay proves himself a descendant of David II of Scotland.
The Aberdeen Herald, March 24th, 1838
propriety of this well-known Distillery have much pleasure in announcing that
one of the partners, John Windsor, Esq., has been appointed "Distiller
of Whisky to Her Majesty." The present excellent arrangements and very
superior Spirits produced at this establishment are facts extensively and well
known. The Distillery has been lately greatly enlarged, and machinery has been
added to it to such an extent as to make it the first Distillery in the north.
The Distillery is situated near Stonehaven upon the Cowie, a small stream which
takes its rise a short distance above in a mossy district, which renders its
waters so peculiarly desirable for the purposes of Distillation. Note - The
Glenury Distillery was originally established by the late Duke of Gordon,
with a view to put down smuggling, then alarmingly prevalent, and to encourage
agriculture. Captain Barclay of Ury is now the head of the firm, and
though that celebrated sportsman has of late years retired to the "halls of his
fathers" he continues to devoted his best exertions to the advancement of the
general interest of agriculture. We wish the proprietors of this establishment
ample success in their spirited undertaking.
The Aberdeen Herald, March 27th, 1841
Tuesday last, a dinner was given in the Mill Inn, Stonehaven, to
Robert Barclay Allardyce, Esq of Ury, by a select party of gentlemen,
previous to his departure to visit America - Hugh Fullerton, Esq.,
Sheriff-Substitute in the chair, Chas. Munro, Esq. of Berryhill, croupier. The
Reverend John Stewart said grace; many loyal and appropriate private toasts were
given, and the conviviality of the company was kept up to a late hour - all at
parting wished a safe and speedy return of their distinguished guest of the
family mansion. The dinner and wines, served by Mr Melvin, were excellent.
of Ury, MP for
a prominent farmer and landowner.
his 50s, Barclay started a new business venture; the "Defiance"
stagecoach that ran between Aberdeen and Glasgow. Barclay made the
"Defiance" one of the most efficient and reliable stagecoach services that
Scotland had ever seen.
Barclay was an accomplished stagecoach driver and is credited with taking the
London Mail Coach to Aberdeen single-handed, which required him to be in the
driver's seat for nearly 3 days and nights.
Captain Barclay met his end aged 75 on the 8th May 1854, dying of
paralysis a few days after being kicked by a horse.
Sarah-Anne Allardyce, who died in 1833, having married Robert
Barclay of Ury, had 3 sons and 5 daughters, and the eldest son, Captain
Robert Barclay-Allardyce, the celebrated pedestrian, succeeded to the
Estates of Ury and Allardyce. He died May 1854.
additional patronymic of Allardyce was assumed by Robert Barclay
in consequence of his marriage with the heiress of the Estate; and in virtue of
the marriage of Sir John Allardyce and Lady Mary Graham, the late Captain
Robert Barclay-Allardyce claimed to be the representative of the Earls of Airth and
Menteith, and the 17th in lineal succession from Robert II, King of Scotland.
The last occupant of
After his death in
the estate was sold to
of Gartsherrie. However Robert Barclay-Allardyce did gain fame as a Hunter to
Hounds, Boxer and Athlete. And is reputed to won a wager to walk 1000 miles in
1000 consecutive hours. This was achieved at Newmarket race course while wearing
a tight fitting suit, cravat and hat. In
the Captain was forced, presumably due to a wager he did not win, to sell his
famous herd of shorthorn cattle. But having kept a single cow was able to
rebuilt his herd, again to sell it in
Over the time of the Barclay interest in
and its ownership by Alexander Baird , the house itself was rebuilt no more than
Today, the last of the grand homes built in
Sir Alexander Baird of Ury,
and a fine example of Elizabethan style, is now a ruined, roofless shell.
fallen into decline when the
James Ian Baird,
Viscount Stonehaven's 2nd son, moved to
Although still approachable along one of the original shrub covered driveways.
It is in such a poor state that entry into the structure is prohibited and
"Dangerous Structure" notices abound. But the scope and scale of its former
grandeur can still be seen.
By far the most important Barclay was the 5th generation,
He had a keen interest in agriculture and after the death of his father in
worked for nearly 40 years to improve the quality of the land. This was achieved
by draining and levelling large areas. Construction of dykes and ditches and the
adoption of many farming techniques which were widely adopted in the surrounding
area. In all over 2000 acres of arable land was cultivated by him in this way,
and 1500 acres of wood planted. It is he we have to thank for the development of
as the foremost agricultural county it is today.
The Wealth Producers
Allardyce was MP for Aberdeen in 1792–1801, but had previously been a
'merchant' in Jamaica. He had, it was said, ‘sold as many black men as there
are white in his native city’. Sometimes there was a direct link
between Slavery and Scotland’s whisky distilling heritage.
- was born in Aberdeen and sailed as a young man for Jamaica to make his
fortune. He invested in cargoes of slaves imported to Jamaica, and eventually
made enough money to buy one or more plantations there in St Ann’s Parish.
Allardyce returned to Aberdeen as a wealthy man in the early 1780s. He
became Lord Rector of Marischal College and in 1792 was elected as the
Member of Parliament for the Aberdeen Burghs. To commemorate his success, he
purchased the lands of Dunnottar, near
which had been forfeited by the Earls Marischal in the 1715
Jacobite rising. He built a substantial mansion there. This has now greatly
but a legacy of his Caribbean wealth survives in the form of Dunnottar Woods,
which he originally laid out and planted.
In the 1820s
started Distilling Whisky at Fettercairn near
using his experience of making Rum on his brother’s Sugar Plantations
in Jamaica. For at least 10 years he ran parallel experiments in
Jamaica and Scotland to improve his rum and whisky production.