Just about every Scottish household and family had a still for making whisky at one time in the distant past. A still was almost a social requirement and meant wealth, health, and prosperity. In 1644, the British Crown began imposing increasing duties on the distillation of whisky over certain amounts, with a prohibition on any still making more than 100 gallons in the 1750s. That amount shifted lower and lower over decades as the levies crept higher and higher. The increasing restrictions led to an outright ban on any private whisky stills that were not officially licensed in 1781. Local Highland communities were justifiably outraged. One might as well place a ban on baking bread. Rather than strictly control any and all whisky-making, the ban simply resulted in an explosion of illegal whisky flooding the country. Highlanders simply took their stills, hid them, and continued to do what they have always done—make whisky.
View the score for “The Whisky Still.”