The History of Leith

February 14, 2011


THE Port and Town of Leith have for long been closely involved in the import and distribution of foreign Wines and Spirits, and it is very
gratifying to note that this important branch of the trade is not only holding its own, but is showing a steady expansion.
The manufacture of British Wines and Compounds by, for example, the firm of D. J. Thomson & Co. Ltd., which produces also Spirit Liqueurs, is a part of local industry, and these products all continue to enjoy an increasing popularity both at home and abroad.

But it is to the Home Spirit branch, and to Scotch Whisky in particular, that we must turn to discover the greatest measure of progress. Our whiskies of all descriptions and varieties of blending remain one of the most prolific ingatherers of foreign exchange, and not least in scarce dollars earned in the U.S.A. and Canada, as well as of inland revenue,
and to it every Chancellor of the Exchequer has every reason to be grateful.
Traders and producers in this popular revenue raising commodity are firms with names and reputations which circle the globe. Among such, we need but mention those of Chas. Mackinlay & Co. Ltd., and ” V.O.B.,” Wm. Sanderson & Son Ltd., and ” Vat 69,” A. & A. Crawford Ltd.’s ” Three Star,” J. G. Thomson & Co. Ltd.’s ” Deerstalker ” and
the D.C.L.’s—Distillers Company Limited—Scotch productions to prove our assertion. Leith is plentifully provided with Bonded Warehouses,
mostly the property of the various traders, closely adjacent to the Docks, and these have recently been working to full capacity to cope with the record world demand for Scotch. We need name only one of these Bonds, to wit, Wm. Muir’s Bond No. 9, which identifies a firm of lengthy lineage which, in addition to storage of every kind of Wines and Spirits under Bond, blends and bottles and transports for export or home consumption to the directions of its many customers.
All this, in turn, creates a brisk demand for ancillary services, and has brought prosperity to Casemakers, Bottle Manufacturers, Cork Importers and Coopers, making all of them exceptionally busy. In particular, the Cooperage industry has been very extensively enlarged to meet the heavy and growing demand for casks to be distributed to the various distillery centres for filling with Spirit to be laid down for maturing. Notable in this line is the local firm of Clark Hunter Ltd., as producers of wooden barrels and steel drums. There would appear to be little fear in the more immediate future of any recession in the export demand, while the demand for supplies for home distribution is rapidly approaching again its pre-war level.
Leith continues to hold pride of place as a leading blending centre in Scotland, and this feature of the trade can be reckoned to be fully assured for some time to come. Bonded Warehouses are being rebuilt, and with others have been furnished with the most up-to-date appliances for the handling of Scotch Whisky from the moment of its arrival from the distilleries until it appears upon the market
perfectly blended and bottled.
A cognate and popular line which has a standing in the Port is Beer, much of it brewed in the vicinity by such concerns of note as Wm. Murray & Co. Ltd., of Craigmillar, while the famous Danish brew,
Carlsberg Ale, is brought in for sale and dispersal by The Carlsberg Scottish Distributors Ltd.

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