As well as the newspaper articles below, read Malcolm Berry's story for an insider's understanding of how the Distillery operated.
The Argus Melbourne 8 April 1927
New Industry for Geelong.
GEELONG, Thursday - It was announced to-day that negotiations had been completed for the establishment at North Shore of a large whiskey distillery by British distillers. An area of 25 acres of land has been bought at North Shore. It is understood that an early beginning will be made with building operations, and that nearly £250,000 will be spent in the plant and buildings.
Advocate Burnie 10 January 1928
£200,000 FOR WHISKY.
Distillery For Victoria.
MELBOURNE, - Monday. - Contracts have been let for the erection of cask sheds of steel, concrete and brick, for a whisky distillery company at North Shore, Geelong.
Cask sheds will be erected first, as they can be used for storing machinery and plant for the distillery as it arrives from England.
Tenders for other units of the distillery will be dealt with later. A company in which leading British whisky manufacturers are interested will expend something like £200,000 in establishing itself at North Shore.
The Advertiser Adelaide 22 March 1929
OPENED AT GEELONG.
Melbourne, March 21.
Mr. William H. Ross, chairman andmanaging director of the Distillers' Co-operation, Edinburgh, opened the new distillery of the Distillers' Co-operationPty. Ltd., at Geelong to-day. Mr.Ross stated that he travelled 12,000miles to open the distillery, which was an example of the Empire's spirit in extending its financial assistance to the Dominions. The distillery has been established on the basis of half British and half Australian capital, and there is a holding of 32 acres at Corio.
The Argus Melbourne 22 March 1929
NEW DISTILLERY OPENED.
Two of the great potstills at the new distillery of the Distillers Company Limited of Edinburgh at Corio, near Geelong, which was opened by Mr. W. H. Ross, chairman and managing director of the company, yesterday morning. The opening was attended by more than 200 people.
The Argus Melbourne 9 December 1929
NEW DISTILLERY AT CORIO.
The first product of the distillery established at Corio by The Distillers' Corporation Pty. Ltd., is now available to the public. It is Burnett's dry gin, formerly imported into Australia from Britain. It is stated that experts cannot distinguish between the British and the Australian spirit made by the company.
The building and plant of the new distillery cover six acres of a site of 32 acres at Corio. In addition to making Burnett's gin the distillery will also make whisky similar to that which is made in Scotland. The whisky, as it needs longer to mature, is not yet ready for the market. The present output of the distillery exceeds 500,000 gallons a year. The plant was designed at the headquarters of the Distillers' Corporation of Britain.
The Horsham Times 8 May 1931
COW AND PIG FEED. The advertising columns of this issue contain an interesting reference to "Corio" Distillers Dried Grains, which are crushed barley and malt, and a product of the New Corio Distillery near Geelong. It is claimed that this food, which is marketed in new chaff bags and will keep indefinitely, is of a highly nutritious nature, and same is now being used by many dairymen and pig raisers throughout Victoria, with very success ful results. At £4/10/- per long ton of 2240 lbs., with a special concession for truck lots, and also having regard for the high protein and fat contents, the contention that the food is much cheaper than either bran or pollard seems to be well substantiated. All enquiries should be addressed to The Union Ice and Cool Storage Co. Pty, Ltd., 20 Moorabool-street, Geelong, who are the sole distributing agents for Australia.
Barrier Miner Broken Hill 9 November 1933
MANUFACTURE OF WHISKY AT
Whisky manufactured at Corio, Geelong, will be marketed in Australiaduring the next twelve months. Mention of this fact was made by the chairman (Mr. L. Brind) at the annual meeting of shareholders of Brinds Ltd., a company interested in theCorio distillery through its association with United Distillers Pty. Ltd., thecontrolling organisation of the principal Australian distillers. The whisky he said, was maturing.
The Argus Melbourne 6 October 1938
Mr. L. C. Reed has been appointed general manager of United Distillers Pty.Ltd. United Distillers are managing agents for Federal Distilleries Pty. Ltd., Port Melbourne, and the Distillers Corporation Pty. Ltd., Corio. These companies aro respectively the distillers of the well-known Old Court whisky andCorio Special and Vickers gin. Before the present appointment Mr. Reed hadspent his business life with John Conell and Co. Ltd., of which company he was in recent years a director and general manager.
Mr. C. J. Cruickshank, after 44 yearsservice with the Distillers Co. Ltd. and its subsidiary companies in Australia,will retire from the position of secretary of United Distillers Pty. Ltd. asfrom March 31 next. The board ofUnited Distillers has appointed Mr. B. A.Loughlin acting secretary. Mr. Loughlin will assume duty immediately.
United Distillers owns all the capital in Distillers Corporation Pty, Ltd ('Corio' whisky and 'Vickers' gin) and also Federal Distilleries Pty, Ltd ('Old Court' and 'Brind's). Mr. Monahan said the Corio distilleries were now the largest in the southern hemisphere.
Since 1929 they had produced 12 million gallons of whisky and 5 million gallons of gin. This was equal to two-thirds of the Australian whisky trade and half the gin market. Mr. Monahan claimed that the company was now the mainstay of the barley industry in Australia. ( Last year profit fell by £85,730 to £21,221.)
The Courier-Mail Brisbane 3 July 1954
Distillers have paid £50 million in excise
MELBOURNE— In 25 years trading United Distillers Pty. Ltd. had paid out more than £50 million in excise duties, Mr. John Monahan, production manager of the company, said yesterday.
He was speaking at the company's silver jubilee celebrations at Corio, Geelong. United Distillers owns all the capital in Distillers Corporation Pty, Ltd ('Corio' whisky and 'Vickers' gin) and also Federal Distilleries Pty, Ltd ('Old Court' and 'Brind's). Mr. Monahan said the Corio distilleries were now the largest in the southern hemisphere.
Since 1929 they had produced 12 million gallons of whisky and 5 million gallons of gin. This was equal to two-thirds of the Australian whisky trade and half the gin market. Mr. Monahan claimed that the company was now the mainstay of the barley industry in Australia. (Last year profit fell by £85,730 to £21,221.)
The Argus Melbourne 3 May 1956
A MODERN distillery is very much a paradox.
Within it, a multitude of processes are working, but overall there is a strange silence, an almost complete absence of visible movement.
This is the visitor's first impression as he enters the great Corio Distillery at Geelong, on the shores of the increasingly important Corio Bay.
Huge pot stills, huge vats, huge stocks of maturing spirit (in the close confinement of bond) , reveal the greatness of the activity all about, but do not reveal the centuries of tradition, the science, the craftsmanship, the meticulous service, necessary to convert barley to whisky.
The process of that conversion is one of strange fascination; in Australia it reflects not . merely high initiative and success, but a courageous perseverance.
The Australian distilling industry has 90 years and three generations in its story. To compare its excellence, as it is revealed now in United Distillers' new 5-Star product, is to find one of the Commonwealth's most vivid success stories.
Even before this present peak was reached, the company's product had established an inter- national reputation--the Corio brand, was known from Malta, in the Mediterranean across the Indian and Pacific Oceans to Trinidad in the Atlantic - a distance of 90,000 miles - and from New Zealand to Shanghai, a spread of 6,000 miles.
Shipments to this vast and rich area were established even before the 5-Star Whisky came out of its long maturing retirement. It is certain that the already healthy outward flow will be stimulated and increased by the new brand, which has already won the firm approval of connoisseurs at home and abroad.
Corio's distillery is the greatest south of the Equator.
It has made an invaluable contribution to Australia's economic life, and given new lustre to the words "Made in Australia."
(Photo caption) Mr. G. GORDON COULTER, the present chairman of The United Distillers Pty. Ltd., joined the board in 1953, following the retirement of Mr. Box.
GEELONG ADVERTISER March 21, 1990
Where there was smoke, there was …whiskey
Compiled by PETER BEGG
It seems difficult to imagine today that the wellbeing of an industry might be gauged by the extent of smoke emerging from its chimney.
But such was the philosophy in 1929, when the Corio distillery was officially opened on this day in March.
The opening was performed by Mr William H. Ross, the chairman of the parent company, The Distillers Company Limited, of Scotland.
Mr Ross, a Scotsman himself, opened the distillery with the Scottish phrase: "Lang may its lum reek", which roughly translated means "long may its chimney smoke".
The Geelong Advertiser reported the next day that Geelong could be proud of the new industry.
"It is truly an important industry for the district, as an inspection by various citizens made evident yesterday,” the Advertiser said.
"A special train brought 250 Melbourne and interstate visitors to the handsomely appointed works for the opening ceremony, while many others travelled by car from Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat and other districts to participate in the function.
"There was a large crowd of official guests in attendance shortly after 11.30 am, when the music of the St Augustine's Band attracted them to a position in front of the Excise Department.
"There a display of bunting marked the importance of the occasion, and from that position the opening ceremony was performed.”
The actual manufacture of whisky at the Corio plant started three days before, with the first whisky to run off the line being a grain whisky.
Corio's first malt whisky was made in the week ending April 26 of the same year, and was stored in wooden casks to mature.
Because the whisky could not be sold until it was mature (it sat in casks of American white oak for five years) the distillery also made gin for immediate sale.
The first Corio Whisky was placed on the market in 1934, and the company boasted that it tasted more like Scotch whisky than any produced elsewhere in the world.
When Corio's 5‑Star whisky was first made in 1956, it won the first prize and championship at that year's Sydney Royal Easter Show.
The large pot stills which were constructed to specifications of the Distillers Company of Edinburgh, were installed in 1949.
These pot stills have been maintained at the distillery as a showpiece by the current owners.
Smoke no longer “reeks” from the Corio distillery, having been replaced late last year by radio waves from Geelong’s first commercial FM station, BAY-FM.