Towser the mouser wearing a crown

Glenturret distillery, located near the Scottish town of Crieff, Perthshire, has many claims to fame.

Dating back to 1717, when it was operated illegally by tax-dodging distillers, it’s a contender for being Scotland’s oldest whisky distillery.

It’s also the home of The Famous Grouse, Scotland’s highest-selling whisky brand since 1980. In 2012, a supersized version of the stuff was unveiled at Glenturret, breaking a record as the world’s largest bottle of whisky (228 l; 50 gal).

However, above all else, Glenturret’s biggest claim to fame is one of their past cats, a female long-haired tortoiseshell named Towser (1963-1987).

Towser was the world’s greatest mouser, which means she was better at catching mice than any other cat in recorded history.

The old proverb, “when the cat’s away, the mice will play,” did not ring true at Glenturret distillery while Towser the mouser was alive.

The record-breaking rodent-remover racked up around 28,899 kills throughout her life, averaging over three per day.

Towser, world's greatest mouser

Whisky distilleries are prime feeding and breeding locations for mice.

To make scotch whisky, you need barley. And where there’s barley, there will also be mice.

Scurrying in from surrounding fields to fill their bellies, these rodents are a huge nuisance for distillers.

Thus, in the past, it was common for security cats, aka mousers, to be employed to minimize losses.

The greatest of them all, and perhaps the deadliest domestic cat to ever live, was Towser.

For Towser, Glenturret distillery was the perfect home. She had a warm place to sleep and an endless supply of food, and she was prepared to defend it with every fibre of her being.

Each night, the ferocious feline would diligently patrol her turf, violently dispatching every single mouse she found.

By morning, the mangled mice would be laid in a row on the stillhouse floor, ready to be inspected by the stillman.

Towser’s record-breaking kill count is an estimation, extrapolated from data obtained while she was under observation for several days.

Admittedly, this is not the most scientific of methods, however, Towser continued to hunt mice at a similarly high rate throughout her life, right up until she passed away aged 23 (three weeks shy of her 24th birthday). Thus, her estimated kill count is likely to be quite accurate.

Towser was reportedly given a few drops of whisky to drink with her milk each night, which may have contributed to her longevity (and/or her murderous nature).

Glenturret distillery

By the time of Towser’s death in 1987, the process of floor malting - whereby wet grain was laid on the distillery’s concrete floor to germinate – was all but extinct, replaced by other methods.

Thanks to this, in addition to tightening hygiene regulations, mousers became redundant.

Glenturret continued to keep a cat or two around, however, they were used more for attracting visitors than catching mice.

In fact, Towser’s direct successor, Amber, reportedly ran away from every mouse she saw, never catching a single one.

Towser’s memory lives on today with her paw prints indented on Fairlie’s Light Highland Liqueur bottles, and a statue of her outside Glenturret distillery.

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