with permission from hsp 60 Fickr https ://www.flickr.com/photos/hsp60/4615364705/in/photostream/
Recently, on local social media, there has been much interest in the history of Vat 69, formerly the King George IV Scotch Whisky Distillery, so here is a potted history. If you find any information to be inaccurate or have any information you would like added to this, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Many local people have relatives who worked there and even worked there themselves. The building was demolished in 1985, and stood where Scotmid, the Medical Centre and surrounding buildings are. East Coast Tyres and nearby premises are situated in part of the original Vat 69 buildings.
VAT69 late 60's. Image courtesy of Harry Kelly, photographer, South Queensferry
Many people have fond memories of life while working there. One local man, whose father worked in Vat 69 and before that in the King George IV Distillery, remembers a time when singer Marlene Dietrich visited and he was taken out of school, dressed up in his Boy Scout Pipe Band Uniform and played the bagpipes for her from the roof of the distillery. Marlene Dietrich performed in the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, in 1964 and 1965.
Vat 69 is a Scotch blended Whisky created by William Sanderson & Son. Becoming a limited company in 1896, this Leith business, was a family firm both on employer and employee sides. William was born in Leith in 1839 and died on 3rd April 1908. His son William Mark took over.
With permission -ttps://www.facebook.com/Vat-69-176741702374032/info?tab=page_info
So, why 'VAT 69'?
In 1882, William prepared 100 casks of blended whisky and hired a panel of experts to taste them. The batch from the cask (or vat) number 69 was judged to be the best, hence the name VAT 69. It is a blend of about 40 malt and grain whiskies. Vat 69 Reserve carries no standard age statement because of the combination of the malts and grains.
In 1967 Wm Sanderson & Son Ltd won the Queen’s Award for Industry in recognition of their outstanding achievements in increasing exports (by 20.1% over the previous year – 87.4% of output exported to over 180 countries). It was success, not failure, which led to moving out of Leith in 1969 to Distillers Group’s expanded high output bottling and blending plant at South Queensferry. Sandersons is now owed by Diageo, headquartered in London.
The Vat 69 building was not without mishap. On 24th April 1949, there was a severe fire. Locals were entertained with the sight of a river of alcohol running down the loan. This kept the building closed until October 1952.