W. & J. Mutter

W. & J. Mutter, Distillers, Bowmore, Islay, 41, Ann Street.—

    The extensive business carried on by Messrs. W. & J. Mutter, distillers, of Bowmore, Islay, dates back in its foundation to the year 1780, and in point of historical interest and the extent of its operations this old-established firm occupies a position of well-recognised pre-eminence in this national industry. The Bowmore Distillery covers nearly four acres of ground, and is built on a shelf of the sea coast ; the buildings are somewhat scattered, but all enclosed, and entrance is gained thereto through three gateways, from the high road, on the slopes of the hill, and two gateways from the sea-shore. This establishment is the oldest in the island, having been founded early in the century by the Simsons, from whose hands it passed nearly sixty years ago to the father and uncle of the present proprietors, who carried on the business most successfully. At the time of their occupation, Bowmore was the only distillery which was feued, the others being held on a tenancy, and it was not until several years afterwards that the other distilleries in Islay became feus.

    At one time the firm held the Jura Distillery, and for many years were very successful therewith, but the distance from the island, and the difficulty in reaching it in winter time, together with their own increasing business, induced them to give it up and confine their attention solely to Bowmore. The father of the present members of the firm was a scientific farmer, and along with his brother introduced many improvements in the mode of farming and modem implements used in husbandry. He grew the first crop of clover in the island, and was a noted cultivator of wheat and barley. As a landlord and neighbour, a benefactor to the poor and philanthropist, he was much beloved, and won the esteem of all classes. In the year 1869 the distillery came into the possession of their descendants, James, George and William Mutter, who have since then made great improvements and alterations in the works.

    It is a noticeable fact that all the distilleries in Islay are built on the seaboard. The distillers say that proximity to the sea favours the various processes of malting, brewing, and distilling. Bowmore Distillery is supplied with an unlimited quantity of splendid water from the Laggan, the best and largest river in the island, and is favourably situated for the disposal and sale of the draff and pot ale, both most useful for cattle feeding, and a perfect boon in winter when fodder is scarce. No. 1 Barley Loft is 65 feet long and 18 feet broad, holding 514 quarters. It occupies one end of a large square stone building, and underneath is a large Malting Floor measuring 60.5 feet long by 58.5 feet broad ; at the end built partly in a recess there is a Steep constructed with cement, 18 feet long, 10 broad, and 4 feet deep, capable of wetting 420 bushels at one time, or an average quantity of 78 quarters per week. The No. 1 Kiln, 65 feet long by 22.5 feet broad, is used for drying the Malt made on both Nos. 1 and 2 Malt floors. In this Kiln, which will dry 500 bushels at one time, the old style of drying the malt is carried out, the floor being of hair cloth, and the malt dried from underneath by peats in four open chaffeurs placed in the Killoggie, as the firing room is called.

    Descending by a flight of steps next is the Deposit Room, a triangular shaped apartment, containing 392 quarters of malt. At one end of this large chamber is the No. 2 Barley Loft and Malting, the former being 36.5 feet long by 20.5 feet broad, and holding 230 quarters of barley; the latter 94 feet by 19 feet, and possessing a Steep, 18.5 feet long, 7.5 feet broad, and 3.5 feet deep, capable of wetting 320 bushels at one time, or an average of 360 quarters per week.

    Then comes a long range of buildings also devoted to the storage of barley and malting purposes, having the No. 2 Kiln at the north end ; the Kiln is 41 feet long and 24.5 feet broad — capable of drying 400 bushels at one time. Both Kilns possess the Louvre Ventilators, and are similarly arranged to those already described.

    The No. 3 Barley Loft is 100 feet long and 24.5 broad, and will hold 1,184 quarters. Nos. 3 and 4 Malt floors are underneath. No. 3 is 100 feet long and 24 feet wide, and No. 4 is 94 feet long by 24.5 feet wide, and has a Steep 23.5 feet long, 5.5 feet broad, and 3 feet deep, and its southern end capable of wetting 300 bushels at one time, and is so placed that it also serves the No. 3 floor.

    Next is No. 5 Malting, the floor of which is 104 feet long and 48 feet broad, over which is the No. 4 Barley Loft, which holds 2,630 quarters, and possesses a Steep 83.5 feet long, which will wet 504 bushels at one time. There are three Malt Deposit rooms, all of which communicate with the Kilns, and are contiguous to the mill, wherein is placed the grinding machinery manufactured by J. Copeland & Co., of Glasgow, and a pair of malt rollers driven by steam power, capable of grinding 360 bushels of malt per hour. The ground malt is conveyed by elevators to the Grist-loft, so as to be ready for the next stage— namely, mashing.

    Next is the Grist-loft, 32 feet long, 27 feet broad, capable of holding 225 quarters of ground malt in bags. At the southern end of this range of buildings there are three hot-water coppers, holding together 8,767 gallons, all heated by fire, no steam being allowed into them either by coils or any other way. The boiling water from these vessels is conveyed to the Mashing-machine and Mash-tun through copper pipes. With the exception of the Mash-tun, Wort Receiver, and the two pumps in the Mash House, every pipe and vessel in connection with the making of the Whisky is of copper or wood.

    Leaving this department is the Mash House, a building 48 feet long by 35 feet wide, which contains a Mash-tun 17 feet diameter by 6 feet deep, the largest in Islay, having a capacity of 1,050 bushels, or 8,487 gallons. The Grist-loft and Hopper are over this vessel, and on the floor above is fixed one of Miller’s copper mashing machines. The Draff is pumped up to Mash-tun No. 2 and falls through a shoot direct into the Draff House, which can hold 3,000 bushels. The Underback, which is below the floor, is 15 feet long, 12 feet broad, and 4 1/2 feet deep, holding 5,083 gallons. Alongside the Mash-tun is one of Jeffries’ Patent Centrifugal Pumps, which can throw 9,000 gallons an hour, used for pumping the sparges to the Coppers, and worts up to the Worts Receiver. There is also one of McPherson & Waddell’s Wash Pumps. These powerful machines are capable of throwing 10,000 gallons an hour with only 64 revolutions per minute, while the centrifugal requires 960 revolutions a minute. Near to these pumps is a fine engine of 14-horse power, and in a room by itself a steam boiler 18 feet long and 4^ feet in diameter. The Underback Boom is at the northern end of the Mash House, and contains an Underback holding 5,083 gallons, which receives the worts from the Tun, and is also used for sparges, which are pumped from this dish to the Worts Receiver and Coppers.

    Through this room is the new Tun Room, a lofty apartment facing the sea, 36 1/2 feet long by 20 feet broad, in which are placed three Washbacks or Tuns, holding respectively 10,364, 10,389, and 10,340 gallons ; mounting the platform which runs from end to end of this building, the old Tun Room is reached, 57 feet long by 17 1/2 feet broad, on the same level, which contains six other Washbacks holding respectively 6,101, 5,973, 6,108, 6,171, 5,996, and 6,006 gallons ; all the Backs are connected by copper pipes with the Worts Receiver. The refrigerators are both by John Miller & Co., of Glasgow, and each of them is 14 feet long by 6 feet wide, capable of together cooling 6,000 gallons per hour.

    The Still House is a light and roomy building, 64 1/2 feet long by 40 feet broad, which contains five Copper Stills, a Wash Charger, holding 7,897 gallons ; also a Low-wines Charger, Low-wines Receiver, Low-wines and Spirit Pump, &c. The contents of the three Wash Stills are respectively 2,077, 2,200, and 2,400 gallons, and their charges, or working capacity are 1,649, 1,978, and 1,863 gallons, and the Wash Charger which commands these Stills with a dip of 72 and seven-tenths inches, holds 7,897 gallons. There are two Low-wines or Spirit Stills, holding respectively 1,400 and 1,210 gallons, and their actual working capacity is 1,053 and 923 gallons. The Low-wines Charger dips 46 and nine-tenths inches, and is of 1,232 gallons content, and Low-wines and Feints Receiver dips 47 and nine-tenths inches of 2,477 gallons contents. All the Stills are heated by fire and are of a shape which the firm will not allow any deviation from, one of the Low-wines Stills having a double head and two worms, so far as we have seen, being quite unique in this respect. The Wash Still chains are driven by a small overshot water-wheel ; these chains are made of brass or gun-metal, being a pattern of chain found in an old Still, demolished in the Brackla Distillery some years ago, by Mr. MacDougall, of John Miller & Co. In the outer courtyard, placed on solid masonry at a high elevation, are three Worm-tubs. The largest is 12 3/4 feet deep by 12 feet in diameter, and contains ten turns of Wash Still Worm, and nine of No. 1 Low-wines Still ; next to it is a new Worm-tub, oblong in shape, 17 1/4 feet long, 7 1/4 feet wide, and 8 feet deep, having five double lengths and two single of copper worms, with flanges of gun-metal. Adjoining this is a small Worm-tub, 6.5 feet diameter at top, wider at bottom, and 10 feet deep, having thirteen coils of copper worm from the No. 1 Low-wines Still.

    Standing against the walls of the Still House are two Copper Condensers, the Wash Still Condenser is 12.5 feet high and contains 121 copper tubes ; that for the Low-wines is of the same height, but has only 91 tubes. These condensers were the first in use in Islay, but when water is scarce they require more attention than the Worm-tubs.

    A long passage is entered which leads to the Mash House, off which is the Spirit Receiver Room, 18.5 feet long by 10.5 feet broad ; the Receiver placed therein is a timber vessel, having a dip of 60 inches, and contents 1,865 gallons. It possesses an indicator attached to the charging and discharging pipes, which permits of continuous working, as without this the fires would have to be drawn from the Stills until pumping was finished. The Spirit Store is nearly 62 feet long by 10 feet wide, and contains a Spirit Vat holding 2,354 gallons, and the casking and weighing apparatus.

    Underneath the north end of the Old Maltings is the Cooperage consisting of two vaults, brick arched, each 40 feet long by 10 feet broad ; they were formerly the original and only warehouses of Bowmore Distillery.

    The bonded Warehouses must next be visited ; No. 1 consists of two flats, each measuring 112.5 feet by 48 feet ; the ground flat is cut out of solid rock. No. 2 is situated at the western end of the Kiln next the sea, and is 106 feet long by 21 feet broad. They see both dry and well ventilated, and can contain 5,000 casks.

    Passing along to the office will be observed an immense peat stack containing 1,200 loads, and a shed holding 1,000 tons of coal, both ready for winter’s use. Lying at anchor will be seen the S.S. “James Mutter”, 145 tons, the property of the firm, used for the conveyance of Whisky to Glasgow, and for general traffic.

    The water used at Bowmore Distillery comes from the Laggan River, and is conducted by a lade of water course nine miles in length, said to be the longest to any Distillery in Scotland, though, as the crow flies, the distance is not more than five miles, but the engineering, difficulties met with were so great, owing to want of fall, that a very tortuous course had to be made.

    The Barley used is shipped from Inverness and Moray shires. The Whisky is pure Islay Malt, and the annual output is 300,000 gallons.

    The establishment is replete with all the most improved machinery and appliances which science and skill can devise, and the various operations of the manufacture are conducted with that care and judgment, which are acquired only by long practical experience and an intimate knowledge of the most minute details of the business. The Whisky is made solely from pure malt and possesses that pleasant and agreeable flavour which has rendered the brand so justly celebrated. The firm have also very extensive warehouse accommodation in the arches under the Central Station in Glasgow capable of storing about 6,000 casks. Here the whisky undergoes the essential process of maturing, which enables Messrs. Mutter to offer to their customers spirits which are in a thoroughly reliable condition, and of that age and maturity which are so highly appreciated by all connoisseurs of this popular beverage.

    The firm have extensive premises at 41, Ann Street, City, which comprise a spacious suite of well-appointed offices and counting-house, together with sample rooms and all the accessories of a large and well-organised establishment. A large staff of clerks and assistants are here actively engaged ; the firm also send out several energetic travellers, covering the whole of England, Scotland, and Ireland ; and in addition to the extensive home connection a very large and continually increasing export business is done, principally with the colonies. These extensive connections are well founded upon the eminent reputation the firm has long enjoyed, and the extent and magnitude of its operations fully notify its position as one of the largest, as it is one of the most celebrated and ancient houses in the trade.

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