Site of Scotland’s First Legal Distillery Examined

Scotland Glenlivet ExcavationSPEYSIDE, SCOTLAND—The Scotsman reports that archaeologists from the National Trust for Scotland, who have been studying illegal still sites in the Scottish Highlands, are now investigating the site of a distillery where farmer George Smith began producing legal whisky in 1824. To do so, he paid a licensing fee under the 1823 Excise Act, and a set payment per gallon of spirit he produced. “The distillery we are working on here is a nice bridge between the small-scale illicit distilling and large-scale industrial production,” explained archaeologist Derek Alexander. So far, the excavation has uncovered a piece of an exciseman’s padlock and pieces of a barrel. “We have also found the outline of the fireplaces where the stills were sitting,” Alexander said. The researchers have uncovered waste products of the distillation process, and hope to find evidence of grain drying. Smith’s operation eventually outgrew the site and moved in 1859 about a half-mile away to take advantage of a better supply of running water to power the machinery necessary to produce Glenlivet on an industrial scale. For more about the site’s discovery, go to “Around the World: Scotland.”


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