On January 30th, 1894, a merchant vessel ran aground off the coast of Milford Haven in Wales, and though its crew were all rescued on that stormy night, most of its precious cargo went missing. The name of that vessel: the Loch Shiel.
The ship set out from Glasgow with 7,000 cases of the finest Scotch whisky on board, but less than half was recovered by the authorities when it sank. Most of the rest, as the story goes, found its way into the homes of local villagers, where it was hidden, to be enjoyed privately at a later date
The Loch Shiel whisky seeks to capture the spirit of this legendary lost Scotch, made more than 100 years ago using time-honoured methods, and celebrates the tale of the Pembrokeshire locals who discovered whisky galore – and decided it was too good to give up.
LOCH SHIEL MARITIME SHIP BUILT – 1877
The proud vessel the Loch Shiel was built in 1877 in the Meadowside shipyard in Glasgow by D&W Henderson & Company. Named after a large loch to the west of Fort William in the Scottish Highlands, this fully-rigged three mast iron sailing ship, weighing 1,277 tons and measuring 225ft by 36ft, would sink less than 20 years later.
On January 12th 1894, the Loch Shiel set sail from Scotland for the final time, bound for Adelaide, Australia. On board was a crew of 27, six passengers, and a 1,600 ton cargo of beer, whisky and bricks. After an unremarkable start to the voyage, The Loch Shiel encountered strong westerly gales, whereupon the captain sought refuge, docking the ship at Belfast Loch temporarily.
The Loch Shiel left Belfast on January 23rd, and again sailed into heavy seas and gales. On the evening of January 30th, the ship ran aground on Thorn Island while seeking shelter from the storm in Milford Haven, Wales. The local lifeboats were soon dispatched, and rescued all 33 crew and passengers, as the Loch Shiel and its cargo slowly began to sink beneath the waves.
The authorities swiftly launched a formal investigation into the sinking and an inquiry took place at Glasgow Court House on the 26thand 27th of February 1894. The Captain of the Loch Shiel was found to have been solely responsible for the ship running aground, but was given a minor sentence due to his good record as a seaman up until that point.
REPORT OF COURT
The Court, having carefully inquired into the circumstances attending the above-mentioned shipping casualty, finds, for the reasons stated in the annex hereto, that the casualty was caused by the neglect of the master to verify his position from time to time by cross bearings or otherwise, consequently, believing himself to be round Thorn Rock, he ported his helm too soon.
The Court found the master only in default, but in respect of his high character during a long period of service, suspended his certificate for three months only. His certificate of competency as master, No. 33,321, was stated to have gone down with the ship.
Dated this twenty-eighth day of February 1894. (Signed) W. GUTHRIE, Judge. We concur in the above report. (Signed) WILLIAM COSENS, WM. BARNETT BIGLEY, Assessors.
EVENING NEWS REPORT
A few months after the sinking of the Loch Shiel, a journalist for the Evening News writes the following in an article entitled, ‘Spirits and beer in all directions in Pembrokeshire’:
“The country round here, to use a very expressive phrase employed by a gentleman with whom I had a conversation to-day, is inundated with whisky. There were nearly 7,000 cases, as already stated on board the Loch Shiel, but only 2,000 has so far come to the hands of the authorities. The remaining cases and casks have gone in all directions, from Dale to Milford Haven, from Angle to Castle Martin.”
Loch Shiel final resting place
The stricken Loch Shiel rest in Milford Haven where it is believed the whisky on board may have been lost forever.
THE LOCH SHIEL MARITIME BLEND
In 2012, nearly 120 years after the Loch Shiel sank, a group of Scottish whisky experts decided to celebrate the story of the vessel and its lost cargo by distilling a new Scotch. They begin production of the The Loch Shiel Maritime Blend, the first whisky to be born under the Loch Shiel brand label and to feature the iconic helm on its bottle.
The Loch Shiel blended whisky offering to export price list – 2016
THE LOCH SHIEL PIRATE COVE SINGLE MALT 2017
Following the success of the Loch Shiel Maritime Blend, its creators set to work on a special selection single malt Scotch whisky with a bourbon cask finish, named the Loch Shiel Pirate Cove Single Malt. The name symbolises the beaches and caves around Milford Haven, where according to the story locals discovered, and hid, bottles and cases of whisky washed up from the wrecked ship.
THE LOCH SHIEL PIRATE COVE 25 YO SINGLE MALT 2017
We offer highquality Scotch whisky in both the Loch Shiel Maritme Blendand thePirate Cove Single Malt, our two distinct iconic label brands which celebrate this story, and the heritage of Scotch exported around the globe.