Gable Ender - Discovering Angus's lost whisky heritage

Lochside Distillery in Montrose, now the site of new housing.Lochside Distillery in Montrose, now the site of new housing.
Lochside Distillery in Montrose, now the site of new housing.
In column a few years ago I made the serious error of confusing whisky proof with alcohol by volume (ABV).

Now one thing I have discovered over the years is that any error I make generally results in correspondence and so it proved, with several readers pointing out my less than deliberate mistake.

The production of whisky in Scotland has fluctuated over the years, along with drinkers’ tastes. However, in recent years a number of moth-balled distilleries have been brought back into production and several new ones built so, who knows, perhaps we may see an increase in whisky production in Angus. The county has seen an increase in the number of distilleries in recent years, although these days they generally produce gin or vodka. Yet Angus had a history of producing some of the finest whiskies around.

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Montrose had the Lochside Distillery. It was originally a brewery, known as Deuchar’s after the family who owned it, producing Newcastle Brown Ale which was taken south in the beer boat, known as ‘The Beerie’. It was bought over by Joseph Hobbs, who also owned the Great Glen cattle ranch, and he introduced whisky distilling, producing Lochside malt and the blended Sandy Macnab. Sadly, production ceased in 1992 and the building was later demolished to make way for housing.

Nearby Hillside was the home to the Glenesk distillery. The building is still used for malting, but actual whisky production ceased many years ago. The distillery, then known as the North Esk distillery, was almost destroyed by fire in 1905 but it was brought under control, saving 100,000 gallons of spirit.

Brechin was home to the North Port distillery which produced blended whisky. It was demolished in 1994 and the site was taken over by a supermarket. Of course, Brechin is still home to the Glencadam Distillery which produces malt and also whisky for blending. One that I didn’t know about until researching this piece was at Justinhaugh near Forfar which produced Glen Coull whisky, but ceased production in 1929.

Collecting rare whiskies is a popular hobby and if you are lucky enough to own an unopened bottle from any of the lost distilleries you may be sitting on a small fortune.

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