In 1890, Fettercairn Distillery Co. was created by a group of local farmers and London merchants. The rebuilding was completed and Fettercairn was back in production. Again it prospered and found favour with many of the blenders.
However the prosperity was short lived – licence and duty increases in the 1909 budget hit the distilleries hard. In 1912 the investors wanted to cut their losses and so the company was placed into liquidation. John Gladstone bought the distillery and began looking for new investors. This did not take long and by the end of the same year a new company was formed.
After the end of the First World War prohibition and temperance hit whisky sales both home and abroad. By 1923 the new Fettercairn Distillery Company was in liquidation. Although the distillery was leased again in 1924, production was limited and the company had folded by 1927. During this time John Gladstone had died and James Mann had become the factor of the Estate.
Over the next 10 years the outlook for the distillery was bleak. Mann had canvassed several possible purchasers – including Arthur Bell & Sons and Scottish Malt Distillers, but nothing came of discussions. The decision was taken to dismantle the distillery and Mann began looking for a buyer for the machinery.
There was a glimmer of hope – with the abolition of prohibition, Mann was approached by Joseph Hobbs, a Canadian Scot who had been in the bootleg trade. Under Train & McIntyre, he had purchased Glenury Royal distillery at Stonehaven and was looking to buy several more. Initially deterred by the high asking price, he did finally purchase the distillery for £5,000 in January 1938. Train & McIntyre were acquired by DCL in 1953.
Today, Fettercairn is a pretty, compact distillery with some very interesting “twists”. In following the process through the distillery, the attention to detail that has been applied in achieving the desired whisky character become apparent.