The Magnificent Mousers of The Glenturret
For over 50 years The Glenturret Distillery has been home to a number of magnificent mousers and most infamous of all is our beloved Towser.
Towser was our resident long-haired tortoiseshell female mouser from 1963 until 1987. She was born on the 21st of April 1963 and lived all her days in The Glenturret Still House. She honed her mousing skills from a young age and soon was wowing the distillery team with an average catch of three mice a day from the surrounding distillery fields.
Towser’s impressive mousing career would eventually see her recognised by The Guinness World Records as the World’s Greatest Mouser as her official final mousing count was recorded at an impressive 28,899 mice! Adjudicators from the World Records office observed Towser’s mousing prowess over several days and an average mousing count was established after their observations to verify the record. Towser almost made her 24th Birthday however sadly died just one month before it on the 20th of March 1987. In 1995 The Glenturret Distillery revealed a bronze statue of Towser to commemorate her amazing mousing achievements and to celebrate her wonderful life at the distillery. Towser’s statue was sculpted by local sculptress Evelyn Temple from Comrie and was unveiled by Ian Grant, Chairman of the Scottish Tourist board at the time.
Although a significant amount of time has passed since Towser sadly left us, hardly a week goes by without visitors asking about her intrigued by her statue and legacy, and some of our distillery staff still recall her time here at Glenturret. She was a very special cat, both her birth and death year were in the Chinese year of the cat. Towser was mainly looked after at the time by Glenturret’s Chief Guide Rena Steel. She appeared in American magazines, Japanese television programmes, various publications and was a regularly featured on several radio stations throughout her life. The distillery had a range of Towser themed gifts for sale in The Glenturret Shop including Towser posters, mugs and porcelain ornaments and there was even a distillery liqueur named Fairlie’s Light Highland Liqueur that featured her pawprints and an image of a cat on its label. Towser also shared her Birthday with Her Majesty The Queen and was herself treated like royalty whilst resident here. Every year distillery staff would arrange a large cake decorated with sugar mice to celebrate Towser’s Birthday.
Towser’s Annual Glenturret Birthday Celebration
Visitors from far and wide were incredibly generous to Towser over the years and would send her treats such as tins of caviar and smoked salmon which Rena would serve to Towser along with the odd tipple of our famous Single Malt in her milk. Legend has it that a tipple of Glenturret now and again kept her in peak condition for mousing! Every year Towser would also receive Birthday and Christmas cards and an array of fan mail from children, adults and feline friends alike. Cat lovers would flock to Glenturret to catch a glimpse of our famous feline and could view her fan mail on display at the distillery visitor centre, the sheer volume of it was an attraction itself.
Towser’s Fan Mail Collection On Display to Glenturret Distillery Visitors
As we embark on an extensive Glenturret heritage project we find ourselves captivated by the gems that we uncover. In our Glenturret archives lives a very special cabinet that is simply entitled “Distillery Cats” and in this hidden away cabinet are the stories, pictures and memorabilia of our beloved mousers from our history. Our team regularly delight in reliving many happy memories of our furry friends both past and present and we are delighted to share their stories with our Glenturret fans. Remarkably many of the Towser fan mail pieces are still intact and going through the various cards and letters it is truly apparent how loved and appreciated she was.
We’ve hand picked a few of our favourites from the Towser collection to share with you from our archives. The first gems that we have are some of the fascinating news stories that we found that tell Towser’s tales to the world:
Towser The World’s Greatest Mouser Press Releases
The Towser archives also reveal Royal correspondence from Buckingham Palace with best wishes for Towser’s Birthday and a note of sincere thanks for Towser’s present, a cassette of her life story, sent to Prince William and Prince Harry in 1986:
Towser’s Royal Correspondence
Towser’s fan mail collection reveals a wealth of images, drawings and vintage cards which are still a joy to look through today:
Towser Cards and Fan Mail
As news broke of Towser’s passing letters and cards flooded in to the distillery with heart felt condolence messages and images of memorial services held in Towser’s honour:
Towser Sympathy Cards and Mail
Since Towser there have been a series of wonderful cats that have taken up residence in our Still House and The Glenturret has become synonymous with employing mice catchers over the years. After Towser’s passing, and with the Glenturret malt store now at risk to the hungry local mice population, the hunt to find a new mouser was now a priority. As Towser was spayed and had no offspring to take over the distillery’s now vacant mouser position a competition was held in haste to find a replacement. The contest, keen and close, was between a young lion cub, a small chimpanzee and two stray kittens, brothers, provided by the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. In the event, Mr Toddy impressed most with his energy, speed and agility. He was selected as Towser’s heir, the distillery accountant at the time took Mr Toddy’s brother, Hamish and the other two contestants were returned, disappointed, to the local wildlife park.
Mr Toddy, Towser’s Sucessor
Mr Toddy was quite the handsome new mouser, the colours of his coat echoed the rippling river Turret at the back of the distillery and his eyes had a beautiful golden colour akin to The Glenturret whisky, he truly had the look of the place! Incredibly Mr Toddy shared the same Birthday as Towser and his arrival seemed meant to be. Unlike Towser patrolling the local surrounding fields, Mr Toddy preferred to patrol his immediate surroundings of the distillery buildings and spent most of his time in his homemade whisky box bed in The Glenturret Still House enjoying the warmth and whisky production atmosphere that many had attributed to Towser’s long life before him. Mr Toddy had settled into distillery life well. His mousing was improving daily and his natural hunting skills were proving that he was the right candidate for the job. Like Towser before him he was spoilt by staff and visitors and enjoyed soaking up all the attention and regular meals of minced beef, chicken, fish and milk – fortified sometimes with a raw egg and occasionally with a wee dram. Sadly Mr Toddy’s mousing career at Glenturret was cut short not long after his arrival in April 1988 when he disappeared and was thought to be catnapped from Glenturret. The distraught distillery team made wanted posters in an urgent appeal to find him however unfortunately he was never returned to his post and the position of distillery mouser was once again vacant.
Mr Toddy, Towser’s Sucessor
In August 1988 a stray cat, who the distillery named Amber, walked into Glenturret and a few days after arrival produced three kittens. The first kitten stayed with her mother at the distillery and was named Nectar. The other two kittens were adopted by distillery staff, one of which was known to be called Jaegertae at the time. Amber unfortunately didn’t seem to have the mousing skill of either predecessor and as far as is known she never caught a single mouse in her entire career! Her daughter Nectar appeared to be more successful than her mother and both cats remained at the distillery until late 2004 by which time both cats had passed away.
1995: Bronze Towser Statue Unveiling at Glenturret Distillery with Distillery Mouser Amber
The quest for a new Glenturret resident feline began in Spring 2005 and was reported in the national press. Scottish branches of the Cats Protection League were invited to help with the search to appoint a new mouser. The requirement was for a cat that would be outgoing enough to welcome visitors from all over the world and would enjoy being the centre of attention. Mousing ability would be considered an advantage, but distilleries these days are much more mouse-free than in earlier times, so that was not regarded as essential. A cat psychologist was even consulted, as it was felt it would not be easy to find the right animal . . . but eventually nine finalists were chosen. They were all cats that, for one reason or another, had fallen on hard times, and each was described as a ‘real character.’
Staff at the distillery were looking forward to having a new resident mouser after several catless months, but following the ‘interviews’ they found it very difficult to make a choice from among so many worthy candidates! In the end they found it impossible to choose between Dylan, a ginger tomcat from Forfar, and Brooke, a black-and white female cat from Glasgow – so it was decided to take them both on. And there was a happy ending for the seven other cats not selected by The Glenturret – all found good new homes, either with distillery staff or as a result of the publicity that took place at the time of the search.
Both Brooke and Dylan settled into their lives at Glenturret. They proved to be a massive hit with visitors and each feline possesed excellent mousing skills to the production team’s delight! After a few months Dylan sadly passed away from liver disease and left Brooke to fend off Glenturret’s mice population on her own. Brooke went on to have a very successful career at Glenturret and was one of the first distillery cats to have her very own door to the Still House where she cat napped like all the distillery cats before her. Brooke was especially fond of the Glenturret Stillmen who looked after her and would ensure that she was treated with the very best Glenturret treats and luxury lifestyle fit for a top mouser. Brooke would often be seen snoozing up high above the Glenturret Stills enjoying the heat and vapours of production. She would also often be known to frequent the distillery shop to greet staff and visitors each day before prowling the grounds and lounging by the whisky casks. Brooke passed away peacefully in early 2012 after a wonderful few years at the distillery.
Glenturret Mouser Brooke
After Dylan and Brooke had both passed away, a ginger kitten was donated to Glenturret in late 2012. This was Barley, whose name was chosen by public vote. Sadly, Barley suffered a similar fate to the previous Mr Toddy and disappeared in the winter of 2013. It is thought that Barley had wondered towards the town and found a new home in Crieff. Although there were sightings of him in town unfortunately no one came forward with information on his whereabouts and it remains a mystery where he now lives today.
Glenturret Mouser Barley
Barley’s successor, Peat, had an even more tragic end. At just a few months old on the afternoon of the 8th of September 2014, he was struck by a car near the distillery and later tragically died at the local vet’s surgery. Although only six months old Peat was already an integral part of Glenturret life and the distillery team were devastated by his sudden death and once again were without a beloved feline resident.
Glenturret Mouser Peat
After much deliberation it was decided that it felt too quiet without mousers at Glenturret and once more the distillery undertook a mission to find not just one, but two mousers, to take up residence in The Glenturret Still House for the ultimate feline roles in Scotch Whisky. The hunt to find two new mousers proved very successful and in July 2015 the team welcomed their latest furry friends into the fold. After several suggestions the distillery team decided on names for the latest arrivals and ‘Glen’ the ginger tom cat and ‘Turret’ the tabby cat settled into their new surroundings wonderfully.
Current Glenturret Distillery Official Mouser Glen
Similarly to each mouser before them each cat is equally spoilt by visitors and staff. They are admired and given a significant attention on a daily basis. In February of 2017 Turret hit the headlines when he went AWOL from the distillery for several days before turning up ‘on holiday’ at neighbouring Crieff Hydro Hotel. Apparently he had been lounging around the hotel enjoying a winter break at the family resort much to the amusement of staff and locals. He was safely returned to the distillery fully recuperated from his holiday and reunited with Glen who had been missing his feline colleague!
Current Glenturret Distillery Official Mouser Turret
Both cats are a wonderful part of day to day life at Scotland’s Oldest Distillery. They continue to be an integral part of our history here at Glenturret and this year whilst reminiscing on previous mousers and looking through Towser’s wonderful collection of cards and letters we thought of the perfect Christmas present for our beloved feline friends. This year we would like to make an appeal to all our wonderful Glenturret fans to send Glen and Turret Christmas cards and reinstate an old tradition that has sadly been lost over the years. If you would like to send a Christmas card to our distillery cats please send it to the following address:
The Glenturret Mousers
The Glenturret Distillery
We are going to send a gift from Glenturret to the best Glen and Turret Christmas Card sent in by our fans and the winning card will be featured in a special Glenturret news edition in January.
We look forward to welcoming back this old tradition to Glenturret and reading all your cards to our furry friends!
Happy Christmas Glen and Turret our meowvelous mousers!