A number of cats work in Scotland: while one has not caught a mouse in the course of her work, another has caught almost 30,000

Hangai Lilla

2023. January 21 - Photos: Twitter, The Dram Club Instagram

In the course of our work, we are increasingly confronted with the fact that, ever since domestication, the symbiosis of cats and humans has also manifested itself in areas that we do not talk about enough. Maybe if more people knew about it, the perception of felines would be much more positive. It's amazing, but these supposedly insensitive, calculating and capricious animals have already been asked for help by people in post offices, wars, agriculture and whiskey production.


In today’s article, you can get to know the mousers working in Scottish distilleries. This is a wonderful example of how man and nature work together organically and peacefully.

This is what we call a win-win situation

If there were no cats, perhaps we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the original flavor of the justly famous Scotch whiskey in such pleasant tranquility. But let’s not run so far ahead! After all, it all started with domestication. It’s a very “simple” process where cats actually domesticated themselves. When people started farming, they produced grain and other crops, and that had to be stored somewhere. A large amount of food quickly becomes apparent to rodents. A large amount of rodents becomes very quickly apparent to sophisticated predators such as cats.

So the kitties huddled next to the people, where they were guaranteed plenty of food. People recognized this very quickly and realized that these hunters were extremely helpful, so they not only tolerated them, but also persecuted them. It started as a working relationship, but it turned into a friendship. The same thing happened with distilleries.

Making whiskey requires a lot of raw materials like grains, which even in modern times attracts rodents. Even today, the cat is one of the most effective weapons for exterminating them. Modern world here or there, it’s better to do something naturally, not with chemicals or robots. So let’s see which of these hard-working cats stood out.

Perthshire, The Glenturret Distillery: Towser the record breaker

We’d like to give Towser a big round of applause right from the start. This tomcat guarded the home of The Famous Grouse whiskey for many years. He occupies a particularly distinguished place in the pantheon of mouse hunters, because during his almost quarter-century of service, he eliminated exactly 28,899 rodents. The number was verified by the Guinness World Records team. They observed the feline for a few days, who demonstrated an average of 3-4 mice on the table every day. This was multiplied by the days of his lifespan.

Although Towser was the cat of the 60s, it seems that the “Make Love, Don’t War!” slogan did not come under his influence. Purposeful and satisfied, he left for the eternal hunting grounds in 1987, three weeks before his 24th birthday. Perhaps he owed his long life to his determination and continuous success. Or maybe because his job was also his hobby.

After Towser’s death, the distillery appointed a new cat, Amber, as the new head mouser. Despite this title, Amber has never caught a single mouse. She lived an undisturbed, calm life until her death in 2004. Some might think based on this that it was too relaxed…

Kennethmont, Ardmore Distillery: Tommy the Three-legged Beast

On dark, cold winter nights, young and old gather around the fire, where the old people tell the story of Tommy, the Three-legged Beast. There is no person who can listen to these stories without shuddering. Many people say that they wake up at every turn of the night and when they turn on the light, they think they saw a sneaking shadow.

Okay, maybe we got a little carried away and the name Tommy doesn’t conjure up blood-curdling horror or grievous bodily harm. But the legends were born because Tommy really was a killing machine. The half-wild and almost completely independent kitty had two joys in life: warming up in the still house of the distillery after exhausting work and, of course, decimating the local mouse population.

Tommy wasn’t a fan of people, much less the express train on the Inverness-Aberdeen line. His passion almost took him to the grave, and left one of his legs on the rails. Even the bravest newspapers did not dare to write about what happened to the train. To see who you’re dealing with, Tommy didn’t feel sorry for himself, stoically refusing medical attention, merely limiting his public appearances to a few weeks until he recovered.

His violent past did nothing to dampen his love of the life. Tommy died of old age; we imagine, smiling under his mustache.

Keith, distiller Glen Keith: Passport, the globetrotter

The year is 1993, the place is Keith. Containers of empty bourbon barrels just arrived at the warehouse complex from Kentucky. But wait, something is wrong. Alain Greig, director of heritage at Chivas Brothers, gets a phone call: “Alan, there’s something in one of the barrels. The boys can hear it moving.” At first they wanted to gas the thing out of fear, but in the end common sense prevailed. They opened the container and placed some food at its entrance to lure it out, whatever it was.

Greig recalls a very battered, dirty, black-and-white cat emerging from the opening, staggering and blinking in the bright light. He survived the four-week transatlantic journey, by train, sea and truck, by licking the condensation water from inside the barrel. The cat with unsteady legs was immediately named Dizzy. After quarantine and recovery, the much-traveled but little-seen cat was taken to the Glen Keith Distillery, then the home of Passport whisky. And since she was no longer dizzy, the kitten got the name Passport after the whiskey and her long journey.

After the distillery closed, a staff member took the little lady home so she would never have to experience any inconvenience again. Passport did not travel anywhere after that, she lived out his old age peacefully in the home of the Grant family.

Kirkwall, Highland Park Distillery: Barley, the seducer

Once upon a time, three kittens from one litter were born at the Highland Park Distillery; their names were Barley, Malt and Peat. Unfortunately, Peat tragically left for the eternal hunting fields at a very young age, but despite their differences, Barley and Malt lived happily together for 15 years.

Malt was a real lady who loved to dress up and show off. When people saw her, they completely fell in love with her and let her take them on his own tour of the distillery. But Barley had a dark side. He pretended to be a cuddly toy. Lying on the counter in the distillery shop, he lured unsuspecting victims into whom he then sank his tiger claws. In whiskey circles, even today, people turn pale when they hear his name.

Unfortunately, old age caught up with them too, as a result of which their reactions slowed down and first Malt died on the road next to the distillery in 2006, then Barley followed him a few years later.

cat stories distillery mice History kitten stories Scotland towser cat true story

Related articles

More articles