This was once one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland, claiming a heritage going back to the 1750s. It gets its name from Saint Magdalene’s Cross, once the site of a mediaeval fair and a leper colony. However, the distillery was also known as Linlithgow, the town in which it was situated, at different times and private bottlers seem to have alternated between the two. When I visited it in 1987 towards the end of my Barnard Journey of reincarnation, the distillery had already been closed for nearly 4 years and I noted “… that part of the plant had already been dismantled, thus throwing considerable doubts on St Magdalene’s future as a distillery”.
I also recorded that “the outer structure of most of the buildings, many of which are listed as being of historical interest, has been preserved, including the two separate maltings”. Sadly, to no avail. The site was eventually sold to developers in the 1990’s and there are now residential dwellings where there was once a thriving example of Scottish industrial heritage.
Ownership of St Magdalene was in the hands of the family firm, A and J Dawson, for well over 100 years until it fell into the care of DCL in 1912 to be one of the five founding distilleries of their subsidiary, Scottish Malt Distilleries Ltd., when that was set up two years later. There were long periods of inactivity from the nineteen thirties to 1946. A minor DCL subsidiary, Wm. Greer & Co, was the licensed distiller for most of the time St Magdalene was owned by them. Some of the St Magdalene malt will have undoubtedly ended up in their brand, Greer’s O.V.H. Following closure, there were some official bottlings, particularly in the Rare Malts series, and a good selection from the independent bottlers.