ALFRED BARNARD VISIT A "paid" visit to the company
"What Happend When?
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Alfred Barnard visited Pattison, Elder & Co and Glenfarclas distillery. Exactly when he made visit is unclear but in the foreword to the reprint of his pamphlet (100 copies only) Ian Buxton says that it is written between 1891 and 1896.
This pamphlet is also appendix in the 2008 version of ”The whisky distilleries of the United Kingdom”. Photo of the
first edition right below. Thanks Jukka Kettonen for the photo. Alfred Barnard also published a book "Orchard & Gardens"
end of 1895.
Here is a brief summery of the visit:
They were met by Walter Pattison and one of his managers took them on a tour.
Gordon duty-paid warehouses, Leith Walk
First they went to Gordon duty-paid warehouses. The main building had six storeys, each 150 by 50 yards.
- Ground floor - Blending warehouse: casks, "clerks overlooking weighting of butts and hogshead", twelve vatsof polished oak each containg
more than 1000 gallons of duty paid Gordon whisky and 21 vats of less capacity for other brands of whisky.
- First floor - Duty paid bottling department - 15 vats each containing 500-600 gallons and 18 smaller ones of blended whisky ready and
each vat marked with the name of the whisky brand. The machines could fill 6 bottles at one time.
- Second floor - Duty-paid cased whisky store. It had a capacity of 10.000 cases. Poor Alfred who had to use the stairs as the lift
was not available saw thousend of cases of Gordon, Old blended Glenfarclas-Glenlivet and the Dews of Slievemore whiskies.
- Third and forth floor - Duty-paid cased whisky stores. similar to second floor
- Fifth floor - Empty cases and straws.
Other buildings here contained cooperage (with 8 coopers) , bottle and cask-washing premises. He also mentioned the Church of St James "casting its shadow over the aged "and mellow" spirits therein temporarily confined."
Bonded warehouses, Queen's Docks
Next day they visited the bonded warehouses and first No 13 warehouse. It was erected 1887 and had a frontage of 350 years and three storeys high.
- Ground floor - Offices for warehouse, mercantile staff and for Customs officials. This floor nine large vats.
The biggest one has a capacity of 14.000 gallons (or 280 hogsheads). A novelty was that customers could have their own name of their
name and trade name on the occasion of filling. "This appears to us (as Messrs Pattison make no charge) a very easy and cheap way of
advertisement for dealers in Scotch whisky."
- Upper floors - Maturing of casks
A 100 by 70 yard five storeys building. No blending or bottling is made here. This building contains Excise offices and Barnard sees whisky from following distilleries: Benrinnes, Glenfarclas, Glenfiddich,Cragganmore (1881), Highland Park(1882), Glenury (1882) and many others 12 - 15 years old.
Bonds, Bowling Green Street
This is the biggest warehouse in the United Kingdom(221 x 71 feet and three storeys high) and owned by Edinburgh and Leith Bonded Warehouse Company. Pattisons has as per Barnard half the shares in this company and pays a rental of £650 per annum. At the end of the day they took some 10 year old Gordon Brand "which, after the arduous labours of the day, renew exhausted nature"
Head Office, Constitution Street
He describe the five storeys building and mention marble. mahagony, glass, dark oak desks with brass rails etc. The architect was Mr Hall and the contractor was Messrs Henderson & Wilson (later one of the creditors). They also visit the duty-paid wine vaults and warehouseswith wines and port.
London Office & Warehouse, Commercial Street & Hermitage Wharfs
He did not visit London but describes it short. Alexander Elder who is partner in the company (but not later in Pattison Limited) is responsible
Barnard is very impressed of everything and one comment is ”we cannot help testifying to the excellent manner, in every department, is conducted, and the order and method that prevails everywhere”
He also writes about the company and the Pattison brothers: ”its rapid success is largely due to its present enterprising proprietors".
The only trace of something which later after the crash is a matter for investigation is when he writes: "a very large proportion of the stock in this warehouse (Queen's Dock) consisted of the Gordon Brand, as Messrs Pattison evidently believe in the more rapid maturing after they have been blended and accordingly hold immense stocks of their own blends." He was also told "without betraying secrets" that it contained nine varities of distillery whiskies, among which North Country Highland Malts, matured in sherry casks, preponderated. He also tested The Old Blend of Glenfarclas-Glenlivet and the Irish "Dews of Slievemore".
Alfred Barnard - A visit to Pattison, Elder & Co, Leith and Glenfarclas Glenlivet Distillery - reprint 2013 by Ian Buxton
Alfred Barnard - The whisky distilleries of the United Kingdom - appendix in 2008 version