MOFFAT also see Garnheath, Glen Flagler, Killyloch Inver House Distillers Limited, Airdrie, LanarkshireMoffat
LOWLAND SINGLE GRAIN SCOTCH WHISKY
Garnheath was developed to produce both neutral grain spirit (NGS) and grain whisky at a time of increasing demand for blended Scotch whisky. With its five continuous stills it had a capacity of 15m OPG (original proof gallons), making it one of the largest grain distilleries in Scotland at the time.
Garnheath was never officially bottled as a single grain, though a small handful of independent bottlings exist.
By the 1960s several multipurpose grain and malt distilleries had cropped up around Scotland, including sites such as Dumbarton/Inverleven near Glasgow, Ben Nevis in Fort William and Strathclyde/Kinclaith in Glasgow. Operating dual malt and grain operations was seen as a cost-effective way for blenders to secure stocks for their own brands.
In 1964 Philadelphia-based Publicker Industries founded Inver House Distillers – named after chairman Simon Neuman’s Philadelphia home – and converted the Moffat paper mill in Airdrie into a malt and grain distillery complex to secure future liquid for its blended Scotch Inver House Rare.
Four or six pairs of copper pot stills (sources vary) were installed to create the Glen Flagler and Killyloch malt distilleries (which also produced peated single malt Islebrae), while five continuous stills made up the Garnheath grain plant.
The site began producing malt and grain whisky in 1965, while three years later the complex’s efficiency was vastly improved with the introduction of an adjacent blending and bottling plant, and the Moffat Wanderhaufen box maltings, the largest commercial maltings in Europe at that time.
Garnheath reached the pinnacle of its 22-year lifespan in 1980 when an award-winning by-products recovery plant was opened by George Younger, Secretary of State for Scotland, though by then the business was already beginning to unravel.
Neuman had passed away in 1976 with the company US$39m in debt. The maltings had been sold to Associated British Maltsters in 1978 and by 1983 Inver House sold its Bladnoch distillery to Arthur Bell & Sons after just 10 years of ownership.
Neuman’s widow, Helen Publicker, who had assumed control of the business, also passed away 11 years after her husband. Facing increasing competition from other spirit categories, and with the death of its chairman, Publicker Industries paid little interest in Inver House.
In 1985, the same year as Helen’s death, Glen Flagler was closed, although its stills became silent some time before. The following year Garnheath also ceased production.
Inver House was in desperate need of intervention, so in 1988 a management buy-out led by its UK directors was mounted. The new board went about acquiring new assets for the group, including Knockdhu and Speyburn distilleries, and the Hankey Bannister brand.
The group continues on with five malt distilleries in its portfolio and now under Thai ownership. As for Garnheath, only its warehousing, blending and office facilities remain as Inver House’s headquarters in Airdrie.
GLEN FLAGLER DISTILLERY
LOWLAND SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY
Lightly peated, soft and fruity with a ‘surprisingly Speyside character’, Glen Flagler’s spirit was designed to complement Garnheath’s grain whisky in Inver House Distiller’s blends, though it has also frequently appeared as a single malt. Its first appearances were as official 5-year-old, 8-year-old and NAS bottlings during the 1970s and ‘80s, before a 30-year-old was released in 2003. A handful of expressions were also bottled by Signatory during the 1990s.
Glen Flagler was also once released as a ‘Pure Malt’ (blended malt).
Glen Flagler was one of several malt distilleries erected within grain distilling complexes during the 1950s/60s. It was founded in 1965 by Inver House Distillers – itself formed the preceding year by Philadelphia’s Publicker Industries – within the Moffat complex in Airdrie, also home to the vast Garnheath grain distillery.
The name Glen Flagler was not inspired by any Scottish glen, rather the distillery was named after Flagler Avenue in West Palm Beach, Florida, where Publicker’s owner, Simon Neuman, owned a home.
In its short 22-year life, the Moffat distilling complex was home to four or six copper pot stills (sources vary) that were technically divided into two Lowland malt distilleries, Glen Flagler and Killyloch, the latter of which also produced the heavily peated Islebrae single malt.
Glen Flagler’s malt was used for fillings for Inver House’s blends – Inver House, Mac Arthur’s and Pinwinnie, as well as bottling as an official single malt throughout the 1970s and early 80s.
Turmoil within Publicker Industries saw hard times hit Inver House Distillers, and production of Killyloch and Islebrae ceased during the 1970s. The company closed Glen Flagler in 1985, finally shutting down Garnheath the following year.
The site was demolished in 1988, although Moffat’s warehouses and blending and bottling facilities remain as Inver House Distillers’ headquarters.
This lightly-peated whisky was produced mainly as a filling for blends, and as such was never really officially bottled as a single malt aside from a 36-year-old released by Inver House in 2003. Due to its short lifespan, very little of Killyloch’s liquid remains in existence, though Inver House describes its as ‘light on peat, heavy in aromas, with a complex yet soft character, smooth with a citrus spicy finish’.
BRAND PRODUCED HERE
It’s said the distillery’s name came about after casks of spirit produced at this Lowland distillery were incorrectly stamped Killyloch, as opposed to Lilly Loch after its nearby water source.
Killyloch’s stills were incorporated into the Glen Flagler malt distillery in 1965. The two distilleries were situated within the Moffat complex in Airdrie alongside the Garnheath grain distillery as well as – later on – a blending and bottling operation plus the largest commercial maltings in Europe.
While Killyloch itself was a lightly-peated whisky, its stills also produced the heavily peated Islebrae.
Sadly it was never bottled as a single malt during its lifetime and its stills were decommissioned in the early 1970s. Glen Flagler and Garnheath followed suit in 1985/86, and the distillery buildings eventually bulldozed a few years later.
LOWLAND SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY
Islebrae was the name given to the heavily peated Lowland malt whisky produced from Killyloch distillery’s stills. Having only been produced for little more than five short years, and with all its liquid destined for blends, it’s thought very little, if any, Islebrae exists today.
Inver House Distillers, a subsidiary of Philadelphia’s Publicker Industries, built the Moffat distilling complex in Airdrie in 1964/5 to produce malt and grain whisky for its blends.
The malt operation comprised of four or six stills (sources vary) – half produced the unpeated Glen Flagler, which was bottled as a single malt as well as in blends, while the others were designated a separate distillery called Killyloch.
Killyloch’s spirit was a lightly peated liquid earmarked for blending only, though its stills also produced the heavily peated whisky brand Islebrae. Again, Islebrae’s purpose was to provide a filling for blends, and was never bottled as a single malt.
Following a period of instability for the company, Killyloch’s stills were switched off in the early 1970s, with Glen Flagler’s following shortly after in 1985. The following year Garnheath was also closed, and Moffat’s grand distilling complex fell silent.
The distillery buildings were demolished by Inver House in 1988, though the site’s warehousing and blending and bottling facilities remain as part of the group’s headquarters.