In the early 19th century, there were a number of illegal whisky stills scattered across the Campsies. Many prosecutions were made by the local excise officers. In 1813, Eliza Fletcher, then living at Parkhall, in Boquhan, wrote in her diary:
‘Balfron was a most lawless village. There was a cotton-mill in it, and the workers were among the best people here. It was the illicit distillation that demoralized the district. The men of the place resorted to the woods or to the sequestered glens among the Campsie Hills and there distilled whisky, which their wives and daughters took in tin vessels in the form of stays buckled round their waists to sell for a high price in Glasgow.’
No doubt some residents in Killearn undertook the same activity.
In 1833, a license was issued for a distillery called Burnfoot, on the same site as today’s distillery. It was bought by Lang Brothers in 1876. In the 1880s, they decided to change the name to the more specific Glengoyne (‘glen of the wild geese’). However, it was initially registered using the Gaelic form, Glen Guin. The Glengoyne name only started being used in the early 20th century.
By 1965, it was amongst the smallest distilleries in Scotland. A major expansion in 1967 tripled production. The distillery remains centred around a number of well-maintained Victorian buildings. The distillery has been through a number of owners in recent years.
Arthur Tedder was the resident excise officer in 1889–93, and lived in the Customs House at the distillery. In 1890, Arthur William Tedder was born there. In 1916, he joined the Royal Flying Corps, and by 1940 led the RAF Middle East Command. Leading up to the Normandy invasion in 1944, he become deputy supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force under US General Dwight D. Eisenhower. From 1946 to 1951, he was Chief of the Air Staff. He was made a peer in 1946, and took the title Lord Tedder of Glenguin, after his place of birth. The current Lord Tedder runs the Glenguin vineyard in Australia.