Records of Glenrothes-Glenlivet Distillery, whisky distillers, Rothes, Moray, Scotland

Scope and Content

  • Compare ledgers 1894-1971
  • Cash books 1887-1966
  • Barley book 1924-1966
  • Purchase book 1960-1967
  • Weekly returns 1963-1966
  • Millman's books 1966-1971
  • Barley transport and claims journal 1935-1962
  • Draff ledgers 1921-1963
  • Draff dispatch book 1954-1961
  • Wage records 1919-1982
  • Records relating to Ardcanny Farm and Brauchill Farm 1881-1979
  • Plans 1959-1972
  • Photographs 1896-1960s

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1868, James Davidson sold his Macallan distillery at Rothes, Moray, Scotland, to James Stuart, the proprietor of the Mills of Rothes. In 1875, Stuart went into partnership with Robert Dick, the agent of the Caledonian Bank in Rothes. Two other partners joined them: William Grant, also of the Caledonian Bank, and John Cruickshank, a solicitor from Elgin, Moray. The four men formed the firm of James Stuart & Co to improve the distillery. In 1878, they decided to build a new distillery in Rothes, Moray, but the project was threatened by the collapse of the City of Glasgow Bank. The result was the suspension of business at the Caledonian Bank and consequently the partnership was dissolved in 1878. James Stuart retained the Macallan distillery and meal mill. In the same year, John Cruickshank, William Grant and Robert Dick formed a new firm, William Grant & Co, and continued with the construction of the new distillery. In May 1879, the Glenrothes Distillery was opened, with Robertson & Baxter appointed as agents.

The partners faced several years of financial difficulty and debt, including pressure from the bank on Dick and Grant who were still employees. From 1883, the performance of Glenrothes Distillery improved. In 1884, marketing was assisted when the firm was finally permitted, together with the other distillers of Speyside, Moray, to use the formerly restricted 'Glenlivet' name and so the distillary became known as the Glenrothes-Glenlivet Distillery. However, in 1885, the decrease in the distillery's profits once more reflected the depression of the market. In July 1897, as result of this depression, William Grant & Co merged with Islay Distillery, proprietors of Bunnahabhain Distillery, Islay, Argyll & Bute, Scotland, to form Highland Distilleries Co Ltd.

In 1896, extension work at the Glenrothes distillery began on a second malt kin and an increase in stills from two to four but before the work was finished a fire in December 1897 caused serious damage. The distillery saw further damage with a serious explosion in 1903, and again in 1922 when there was a fire in warehouse Number 1. Glenrothes was closed in 1942, when the Ministry of Food requisitioned it for drying oats.

During the 1970s, the distillery was completely refurbished and in 1982 a new still house was built for ten stills. In 1972, Highland Distilleries Co Ltd, set up the subsidiary Glenrothes-Glenlivit Ltd to manage the distillery. In 1988, this company became Glenrothes Distillery Co Ltd and in 2003 was still operating the distillery at Glenrothes as part of Highland Distillers Group Ltd.


This material has been arranged into six series, which are described in the scope and content note. Within these series the material is generally arranged chronologically.

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