Glenlivet Distillery   Glenlivet Distillery Logo

In the early 1800's in remote valleys and barns at least 200 illicit stills were hard at work in the region known as Glenlivet.

The stills themselves were cramped and hidden underground, in caves, in barns, in the roofs of houses, anywhere where there was room. And because of the increasing demand for the drink and the mad rush to produce anything before being found out by the Crown, the alcohol produced was an almost clear, raw spirit. But nobody cared what it looked like, it just had to be made and sold - fast.

The Crown struggled to rid the Highlands of illicit distillers, who paid no excise tax. No Scot was prepared to line the pockets of the English with tax and would fight to the death - it was a stand of independence against the old enemy of England.

Yet with splendid irony, George IV insisted on calling for The Glenlivet whisky, the illicit product of the Highland stills. The kings preference brought high approval of The Glenlivet whisky, already established as the most treasured of all Highland whiskies.
Smugglers already commanded a price premium of £1 per ten-gallon cask.

In the early 19th Century the clampdown on illegal operations began. The Duke of Gordon, a wealthy landowner recognised that the farmers relied on the income from illegal whisky production to pay the rent. His response was to reduce duties and introduce legal licences for the production of whisky.

The first licence was granted to George Smith for The Glenlivet - the only whisky entitled to call itself The Glenlivet.


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