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Illicit Distillation Part 1 - Illicit stills on Stroma

The small Island of Stroma, a few miles off the Caithness coast to the North of John O’ Groats had a few natural advantages when it came to unofficial whisky distillation back in the 19th century. From Norse times, a few hundred hardy souls populated Stroma, with its particularly harsh environment but the island was finally abandoned when the final human inhabitant left in 1997. Any visits to the island by the Excise Man, or other officialdom could be readily spotted in advance and sites could be camouflaged and equipment hidden.

The rugged nature of the location provided caves and other inaccessible locations where illicit distilling could be ‘relatively’ safely undertaken. One such location, known as the ‘Malt Barn’ was favoured by a fellow by the name of Peter Green. He appreciated the fact that it was only accessible at low tide and could be approached through a narrow fissure in the rock.

In 1816 however, Peter and his wife were outwitted by the authorities, caught in the act and duly imprisoned. His stock and equipment was also destroyed. There is however evidence to support the theory that Peter returned to his way in future years.

Edinburgh, UK

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