Alfred Barnard & Aaron Barker : A Visit to Watson's Dundee Whisky Stores

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First gaining fame for 1887’s ambitious “The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom,” Alfred Barnard would follow up with “Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland,”—an equally grand tour presented in four volumes from 1889 thru 1891. From that point shorter works on Scotland’s great whisky blending houses would be his focus and 1891’s “A Visit to Watson’s Dundee Whisky Stores” would be the first of these and perhaps the most important. Touring James Watson & Co. in Dundee, Barnard paints a vivid and complete picture of one of Scotland’s largest whisky blenders before moving on to visit the Cragganmore Distillery. Spending two days at Watson’s, Barnard details every bit of their operations including their warehouses, blending halls, excise office, bottling, packaging, case making departments, the cooperage and main offices. The work would stand well on its own if this were the end of the story; but that would not be the case. Fifteen years after Barnard’s visit, Watson’s Dundee facilities would be utterly destroyed in the ‘Great Whisky Fire’ of 1906. With that event, his little-known edition would become the sole remaining record of what Watson’s Bond was once like. This edition begins with Barnard’s text as sourced from one of the last known copies and also includes a detailed history of the book, a look at the whisky fires in Dublin (1875) and Greenock (1903) leading up to the Dundee conflagration as well as information on Watson’s rebuild and a neighboring blending house also affected by the fire, John Robertson & Son.

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