Records of Charles Mackinlay & Co Ltd, Edinburgh

Scope and Content

  • Corporate records, 1881-1956;
  • Financial records, 1916-1960;
  • Production records, 1960;
  • Sales records, 1960-1963;
  • Staff records, 1940-1956;
  • Insurance records, 1950-1962;
  • Promotional records, 1848-1980s;
  • Photographs, 1935-1950s;
  • Records of John Ewan McPherson & Sons, 1857-1962;

Administrative / Biographical History

Originally established in 1815 by Charles Mackinlay, Leith, the company initially acted as agents for other producers, including Macfarlane’s whisky, introducing their first proprietary brand in 1847, Mackinlay’s Vatted Old Ben Vorlich. The early 20th century saw the introduction of two further brands, ML (Mackinlay Legacy) and V.O.B. (Very Old Blended) both of which were promoted during the 1920s to 1960s, with the tagline ‘There’s no use talking …. Taste it!’ In 1920 Charles Mackinlay & Co and JG Thomson & Co acquired and operated the Littlemill Distillery Co, Bowling, Dunbartonshire, operating it until 1933.

Charles Mackinlay & Co Ltd (company number: SC022718 )was incorporated as a private limited company on 27 March 1944. Family ownership ended in 1961 when the company was sold to Scottish & Newcastle Breweries Ltd. Whilst under their ownership, as part of the expansion of the distilling industry in the 1960s due to an easing of production restrictions, the company provided financial support and expertise for the new Jura distillery opened in 1963 and built Glenallachie distillery in 1967. Both were designed by William Delmé-Evans, who was also noted for Macduff and Tullibardine distilleries. Thereafter, the company became part of Waverley Vintners Ltd before being acquired by Invergordon Distillers Ltd in 1985. In turn the Invergordon Distillers Group Ltd was acquired by Whyte & Mackay Ltd 1993, along with Charles Mackinlay & Co Ltd.

Charles Mackinlay & Co is famous for its association with polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated 1907 trip to South pole. Shackleton took 25 cases of Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt (single malt from Glen Mhor) on his expedition and some 100 years later, three intact crates were found frozen in ice underneath Shackleton’s base camp at Cape Royds. In 2011 Whyte & Mackay’s master blender Richard Paterson analysed the contents from three of these bottles, from which he was able to recreate the original whisky as a blended malt (‘The Discovery’) A further reproduction was created in 2013 to mark the Epic Expedition, itself a recreation of Shackleton’s 1914-1917 Trans-Atlantic Expedition (‘The Journey’).

  • Sources:
  • Moss, Michael, and John Hume, The Making of Scotch Whisky (Edinburgh: Canongate, 2000)
  • Paterson, Richard, and Gavin D Smith, Goodness Nose: The Passionate Revelations of a Scotch Whisky Master Blender (Neil Wilson Publishing, 2008)
  •[accessed 16 April 2020]


Arranged chronologically within record series

Access Information

Access to certain records within this collection may be restricted or closed for reasons of customer, commercial or third-party confidentiality.  Please email Archives and Special Collections for advice:

Access is with the permission of the collection owners

Acquisition Information

  • Deposit : Whyte & Mackay Ltd : 14 Dec 2015 : ACCN 4004
  • Deposit : Whyte & Mackay Ltd: Sept 2019 : ACCN 4304
  • Transfer : Whyte & Mackay Ltd : 27 Mar 2020 : GB 248 UGD 224

Other Finding Aids

See also University of Glasgow Collections

Digital file level list available in the searchroom

Alternative Form Available

No known copies of this material

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

None which affect the use of this material

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents. Applications for permission to quote should be sent to Archives and Special Collections, please email:

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard ASC procedures

Custodial History

Received directly from creator


No further materials are expected for this collection

Related Material

  • GB 248 UGC 234: Records of Whyte & Mackay Ltd, Glasgow;
  • GB 248 UGC 239: Records of Invergordon Distillers Group Ltd;
  • GB 248 UGC 242: Records of Isle of Jura Distillery Company Ltd;
  • GB 248 UGC 245: Records of Mackinlays & Birnie Ltd, Inverness;
  • GB 248 LIT: Records of Littlemill Distillery Co;
  • GB 248 MAC: Records of Mackinlay-McPherson Ltd;
  • GB 248 SNB: Records of Scottish & Newcastle Breweries plc;
  • GB 248 ARTEFACTS: Scottish Brewing Archive Artefacts Collection;
  • GB 234 NRA(S)0345: Records of Mackinlay-McPherson Ltd, (private collection, enquiries to National Register of Archives for Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland).

Location of Originals

This material is original