Am Baile/Highland Folk Museum


arran water: an island whisky history, gregor adamson, 2019

Location: Arran

Caught in the act

By the 1850s, the reputation of the ‘Arran water’ illicitly distilled in Arran had considerably abated, due to the continual exertion of the local excise men.

The need to rush and hide was affecting the quality of the produce, whilst at the same time the whisky produced by mainland distilleries was improving in quality. This made smuggling to the mainland unprofitable, but still worth smuggling to Arran.

In 1859, the owner of the Endeavour and his crewman were found guilty of such an operation after their vessel was found adrift in the harbour with the two men in a helpless state of intoxication. They had a jar of whisky and a gimlet lying beside them together with three and half gallons of whisky in a cask stolen from a ship belonging to James Harvey & Co, wine and spirit merchants in Paisley. The Glasgow press reported the whisky and several barrels of ales had been stolen ‘for the purpose of being conveyed to Arran.’ The ship obviously did not live up to its name, and convicted of smuggling, the two men were sentenced to 30 days in prison, enough time to sober up and recover.

More information on visiting the area can be found here.