THE RUINS of two illicit whiskey distilleries built in the 1700s may have been discovered in a Scottish forest.
Archaeologists drew this conclusion after analysing the remains of two 18th century farm buildings in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park in advance of some of the trees being cut down.
The ruins located near Loch Ard are called the Wee Bruach Caoruinn and the Big Bruach Caoruinn.
Matt Ritchie, the FLS archaeologist responsible for investigating the site, said: “The surviving narrow buildings are unusually long, and are associated with two large corn drying kilns.
“Set in a relatively inaccessible area yet close to Glasgow, in close proximity to water and with strong associations with a number of the important families in the district, it is possible that the site was a hidden distillery, producing illicit whisky in the early 19th century.”
Illicit Whisky Distilling
Strict laws on how much whiskey distilleries could produce meant people began to make the alcohol illegally in the 18th and early 19th century.
The government wanted to be in control of whisky production and introduced the 1788 Excise Act, which banned businesses if they were making less than 450 litres of the liquid at a time.
This meant that smaller companies would go out of business unless they hid their distilleries.
Illicit distilling was said to be rife around this time in the Scottish Highlands.
During the 18th century the area became a stronghold for the Jacobites, as portrayed in the hugely successful TV drama ‘Outlander’. Legend has it that the maid who once lived at the Trust’s headquarters at Inverharroch Farm was slain by the Duke of Cumberland’s army after she barred the door to allow a Jacobite leader to escape over the moor.
Around this time, The Cabrach became a famous haunt of illegal whisky distillers. Local smuggled whisky became widely renowned and sought after for its quality. Local inhabitants mixed farming and illicit distilling with supreme skill, using the remote landscape to create a well-organised underground network designed to evade raids by Customs and Excise men. At the height of illicit production there were well over 100 pot stills operating clandestinely.
21st Century project
The Cabrach Trust are building a new Heritage Centre through sensitive conversion of the Inverharroch farm steading (barn). The design from award-winning architects will complement the landscape and create a warm and welcoming atmosphere designed to be accessible and family friendly. It will feature interactive displays, accessible grounds, imaginative play areas and sheltered outdoor spaces.
At the same time The Cabrach Trust will undertake the conversion of the traditional steading buildings at Inverharroch Farm Steadings to create a working historic distillery alongside a new heritage centre.