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Issue 7 - Daylight robbery

Whisky Magazine Issue 7
December 1999


This article is 18 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Daylight robbery

Dave Broom retraces an old smuggling trail and discovers why so many brigands got away with pedalling their illicit hooch.

I once killed a horse with whisky.” It was the casual way that John Christie, former blacksmith of Glenlivet, dropped this nugget of information into the conversation that made it so disturbing. The fact that he was eyeing up Starsky and Katie our two Highland ponies while divulging it just heightened my sense of dread, especially since Starsky had already tried to drink my first dram of the day. “Aye, we'd collected a pail of the white stuff when we were emptying barrels. We turned round and the horse had drunk it. Next day he was dead.”

I'd met John the previous day when he'd regaled me with stories of the wild old days. When I'd mentioned that three of us were heading off on a 40-mile trek to retrace an old smuggling route it was clear he would not miss the chance of being in at the start of this ridiculous escapade.

Some tourists were shuffling around, cameras poised. You can understand why. The last thing you expect to see in a distillery courtyard is three men dressed in kilts and walking boots, loading up two white ponies with casks of whisky and camping gear. Actually one man was doing the work – Jim Cryle, guide, distillery manager, Glenlivet brand ambassador, pony breeder. The two hacks, myself and Chris Orr, did what hacks do best, flap around the fringes trying to look efficient.

“Why are you doing this?“ asked the tourists. At that point on a chilly, smirry (drizzly and misty) morning, I was asking myself the same question. The stimulus was an i...

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