Cochrane Cartwright was the distillery manager of Glengoyne until his death at the age of 43 in the cooling pool behind the distillery. Today, he is credited with bringing the technique of slow distillation to the distillery and started the use of sherry casks which has since become the house style.
Cochrane was a simple man without any airs or graces and as such very little is known about him. For example, I cannot find a picture of him anywhere online and little mention is ever made of him apart from the marketing material Glengoyne now provides.
Born in Anderson Glasgow on 20th May 1856 to Irish parents he would go on to have five children (4 boys and 1 girl) with his wife Elizabeth. None of those children would continue on in the whisky industry after their father’s death and little is known if Cochrane found distilling anything more than a means to an end.
Regardless, Cochrane’s career ran from message boy to mashman to manager of Glengoyne in 1869. The distillery at that time having fairly recently been bought by the MacLelland family was known as Burnfoot and there is a story than Cochrane’s real father was in fact the owner of the distillery from an illicit affair. By the time of Cochrane’s death from drowning in 1899 the distillery had been sold on again to the Lang Brothers who would now called it Glen Guin distillery which became known as Glengoyne from 1905 onwards.
The story of Cochrane ends with being the ghost of the distillery who watches over the production to make sure the quality is as he made it when he was the manager. A nice story but perhaps not in keeping with the harsh realities of life in Victorian Britain.