Whisky Galore!

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Heritage-Trust-Ashworth-29.02.12wTHE Helensburgh area had two legal distilleries — and many illicit stills.

John Ashworth OBE, retired chief executive of the Chivas Brothers group, told the Helensburgh Heritage Trust meeting in Helensburgh Tennis Club on Wednesday evening that one distillery was at Altdonaig, Rhu, and the other behind the Victoria Hall in the burgh.

Illicit stills abounded on Garelochside, and Whistler's Glen in Rhu was so named because people whistled to warn of the approach of excisemen.

Mr Ashworth, who has lived in Helensburgh for many years and was the author of a history of the town, spoke on the subject of the Drinks Industries, but primarily whisky. At one time there were 680 distilleries in Scotland, while today bottles with certificates of authenticity can be bought in Japan for 1,000 dollars.

It is popular all over the world, with China a massive new market, and every second £120 worth is sold somewhere in the world. "The Scots were clever," he said, "as they exported the customers first!"

France is now the biggest of the 189 markets, while 90 million cases of Indian whisky are sold every year. In Britain, 48 million cases were sold in 1970, but in 2010 this had risen to 96 million.

Mr Ashworth, who was introduced by Heritage Trust chairman Stewart Noble (left), also covered the origins of other drinks, including gin, rum, port, champagne, brandy and cognac.

  • Photo by Donald Fullarton.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 14 August 2012 16:52 )  

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Next Open Meeting

Fraser-Noble-wThe second of six Winter Open Meetings will be held on Wednesday October 28 at Helensburgh Tennis Club in Suffolk Street at 7.30pm, when Fraser Noble will talk about boatbuilding at McGruers. The AGM is at 7pm.

Winter Talks 2015-16

  • Wednesday September 30 2015 — Melissa Simpson: Hermitage Park: past, present and future
  • Wednesday October 28 — AGM at 7pm; Fraser Noble of McGruers: My family has been building boats since the 11th Century
  • Wednesday November 25 — Sir Malcolm Colquhoun and James Pearson: The Clan Colquhoun and the History of Helensburgh (to be held at the Loch Lomond Golf Club at Luss)

  • Wednesday January 27 2016 — Lachie Munro: The Many Lives of Robert Bontine Cunningham Graham — the Uncrowned King of Scotland
  • Wednesday February 24 — Sue Furness, Fiona Jackson: Hidden Heritage of a Landscape — Vengeful Vikings and Reckless Rustlers
  • Wednesday March 30 — Fiona Baker: Boutcher's Banks — the Genesis of Helensburgh?

Meetings are normally in the upstairs room at Helensburgh Tennis Club, Suffolk Street, at 7.30pm.

Charity Number

Scottish Charity