Few distilleries have seen such radically different histories pass through its doors and we celebrate these factors every day. The Victorian structure that now houses Stirling Distillery was established in 1888 but there is evidence to suggest that the site was in use as early as the 1500s. Through some historical sluicing we have deduced that the castle housed its horses, stables and stable workers on Lower Castlehill during the reign of King James V. James ruled Scotland from 1512 to 1542 and was known to travel the country disguised as a common man, earning him the nickname “King of the Commons”.
Plans for Invasion
After the 1541 death of his mother Margaret Tudor, a daughter of English King Henry VII, the need for ongoing peace between Scotland and England was removed. James put together a plan of invasion. James and his army won a significant victory at the Battle of Haddon Rig despite reluctance from his noblemen. But they were ultimately defeated at the Battle of Solway Moss three months later. James ended his days in the Kingdom of Fife in December of 1542. The future Mary Queen of Scots, his 6 days old daughter at the time, officially took the throne.
The rest of Stirling Distillery’s history may be slightly less illustrious but it is no less interesting. When the permanent structure was built in 1888 it was used as a church temperance society hall. No, the irony is not lost on us. Scottish temperance came to the fore after the London-based gin craze of the 1700s and was partly due to easily accessible Scotch that was cheaper than French wine of brandy. The most powerful temperance movements were mainly concentrated in Aberdeenshire, fishing villages along the east coast and Glasgow but Stirling certainly had its small numbers.
The Old Smiddy
Unsurprisingly, the temperance hall was swiftly transformed into a public school and we have received numerous messages from Stirling locals who had older family members attending the classes. Next up came a wireless repair shop which was then followed by a local blacksmith taking ownership and the building earning its well-known nickname “The Old Smiddy”. After its smithing days were done in the early 2000s the site sat empty until water damage from sagging gutters induced the council to replace the roof in 2016. And that is when we came onto the scene.