The wilds of the Scottish Highlands hid more illegal, unlicensed distilleries and pumped out more whisky in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries than any of the licensed distilleries could match. Islay has always been well-known as a place for making superior whisky and it was the same even when it was illegal to sell Highland spirits south of the borderlands. Local authorities on Islay in particular clamped down (or tried to) considerably on illegal whisky making in the eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries, which only served to increase the amount of Islay whisky flowing from its shores. The smuggling boom of late eighteenth-century Scotland made the remote outer isles such as Islay the ideal location to secretly distill and transport illicit whisky to the Lowlands and elsewhere. Smuggling had become the primary means of transporting whisky across Scotland until the Excise Act of 1823, which allowed illegal distillers to operate in the open as fully legal concerns.
View the score for “Islay Smugglers.”