Who’s for 19th Century Whiskey?

Having driven across the picturesque Ruthven Bridge in years gone by we thought it unique. It carries the B970 across the River Spey and as lattice-truss bridges go it is unusually long.

Imagine our surprise then to read about the discovery of a time capsule buried deep within the structure. The metal box was found by workers from Morgan Sindall, executing a £622,000 project to replace the super structure of the bridge, leaving the stone piers but sadly replacing it’s graceful lattice work.

Inside the box was found a newspaper dated Saturday, September 29 1894, a scroll, and a bottle of coloured liquid presumed to be whiskey. These items have been handed over to The Highland Folk Museum.

Its remarkable to think that the box must have been placed there when the bridge was being built. At that time a new century was approaching that would bring with incredible transformations in transport, medicine and communications. A bridge built to carry horse-laden carriages finally being replaced after 121 years!

But what of the whiskey? We would love to know where that came from. The nearest distillery, famous for being in the Cairngorms is that of Dalwhinnie, one of our favourite mellow tipples. Dalwhinnie was founded as the Strathspey Distillery by John Grant, George Sellar and Alexander Mackenzie. However this momentous event occurred in 1897, so clearly it wasn’t Dalwhinnie.

What is it worth? Old bottles of whiskey sell well at auction. Scotland has some fabulously old distilleries,the Bowmore Distillery for example, established in 1779 by a local merchant, John P. Simpson on isle of Islay, an island of the Inner Hebrides. A bottle of single malt 1850 Bowmore was sold at McTear’s auctioneers in Glasgow for £29,400 to an anonymous telephone bidder. So, it could potentially be worth quite a lot.

It would be wonderful to discover who placed that box there and what might be in the bottle, but we suspect we may never know.

So the next time you drive over an ancient looking road bridge, just imagine, what was crossing it soon after it was built, and what might be buried beneath it?

Image is Ruthven Bridge © Copyright Andrew Wood and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

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