Littlemill Scotch Distillery opened when Scot’s poet and literate Robbie Burns was a teenager and no doubt in later working life as an Exciseman he was well aware of its existence as a Scotch whiskey.
By the early 1800s Littlemill distillery was equipped with a wash still with a capacity of 112 gallons and a spirit still of 47 gallons; it produced around 2,000 gallons of whiskey a year which was sold in Scotland and not exported internationally. Whilst many whiskey distilleries in Scotland used raw grain and produced large volumes of cheap, coarse spirit Littlemill used only malted barley and so it may be presumed that Littlemill Scotch whiskey was a superior-quality product.
Through the following years the stills were enlarged in size and output scaled-up although it continued to produce around just 1% of the total whiskey produced in Scotland. By 1825 there were 166 licensed distilleries in Scotland including Littlemill whose stills then had a capacity of 200 and 112 gallons. By then Jane McGregor had taken over the distillery and was one of the first women in Scotland to hold a license to distil Scotch.
Production continued to increase and casks were stored in warehouses at the distillery and also in Scotland’s biggest city Glasgow. In 1830 Jane McGregor was fined £300 GBP most probably for failing to pay duty on some of her spirit and so may have achieved another first for female distillers. Single malt Scotch continued to be produced by double distillation until 1875 when the distillery was rebuilt by William Hay who installed three stills with a total capacity of around 4,000 gallons and began a triple distillation process which continued until the 1930s when production reverted to double distillation with just two stills.
Littlemill distillery’s potted history came to a close in 1994 when the owners went bankrupt and the remaining buildings were then destroyed by fire in 2004. Today, the site is occupied by modern apartments.
Few independent bottlings of Littlemill appear on the market today, so we thought a fitting tribute to this lost Lowland Scotch was in order. For our Burns Malt series we’ve picked a single cask ex-sherry hogshead 21 year old distilled in 1990 which is now available to order here while our stocks last.