End of an era in 1983 as two Inverness distilleries close
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THE Glen Albyn and the Glen Mhor distilleries in Inverness were on an 11-strong list across Scotland closed by Scottish Malt Distillers in February.
In total, there were 240 job losses of which 22 were in Inverness which had once been the chief malting town in Scotland packed with distilleries, malting kilns and breweries.
Glen Albyn and Glen Mhor were in Telford Street next to Muirtown Basin on the Caledonian Canal.
Glen Albyn was founded by James Sutherland, Provost of Inverness, in 1846 who ran it for six years before it fell into disuse and was converted into a flour mill.
But in 1884 it was converted back into a distillery and was later acquired by Glen Mhor distillery, which had been built next door by former Glen Albyn manager John Birnie who had left to form a partnership with Leith blender Charles Mackinlay. Both distilleries were acquired by Distillers company in 1972.
The Inverness Courier observed that the closure marked the end of an era in which whisky was regarded as the one staple product of the Highlands which would never fail to make money although the recession, possible over-production and sky-high duty and taxes had combined to put it financially above the reach of many who used to enjoy a dram.
It estimated that the total number of jobs lost across distilleries in Highland and Grampian came to more than 500.
But there was some good news on the jobs front that same month when the newly-completed £13 million Eastgate Shopping Centre opened its doors – despite a burst water pipe the previous night.
The first company to take up residence was Boots the Chemists which moved 100 yards from its previous premises and added 42 new jobs, bringing the total to 105.
The developers were the Royal Life Insurance Company and Cruden Developments who invested £11 million while Highland Regional Council spent almost £2 million on the site acquisition, roads and street lighting.