Is Kennetpans the start of it all?
May 20, 2011 § 3 Comments
Having visited Kennetpans last year to take some pictures and seeing it again on the way to the Diageo Archive last month, I decided to contact Brian Townsend, author of Scotch Missed: Scotland’s Lost Distilleries, which I have been publishing for almost 20 years. We contacted Bryan and Fiona Frew who now own the site and arranged a visit to see what their plans were for this important piece of Scotland’s industrial archaeology. On approach down the farm track to the distillery I was struck at how much more of the structure was now visible. Bryan and Fiona took us on a tour of what has clearly been a real labour of love over the past few months. Under the direction of Historic Scotland, all the invasive growth of ivy and shrub trees have been severed at ground level and allowed to die back revealing the entire scope of the distillery. Behind lies a massive, three-story warehouse that last saw action as a biscuit manufactory. The walls remain intact with evidence of shuttering and iron grating.
Kennetpans was one of Scotland’s greatest industrial undertakings of the 18th century. Although it closed as a distillery in 1825, its impact on the whisky industry was so profound that its DNA is to be found in almost every blended Scotch whisky brand of any import. The roots of distilling in Dublin on a large scale can also be traced back here as John Jameson was a Clackmannanshire Scot, although the whiskey industry in Ireland don’t really advertise their historical links to Scotland. Alongside its sister distillery a little to the east, Kilbagie, this is where large-scale industrial distilling started in Scotland in the late 18th-century and without it, the whole industry would not have evolved in the way it has. This place could be considered as a sort of Mecca when it comes to Scotch whisky.
Bryan and Fiona are applying for a National Lottery Heritage grant to enable them to preserve what is left of the distillery and the warehouses and they deserve all the help they can get. Visit their website and spread the word. Kennetpans must not be allowed to disappear.