View Full Version : Over the Ord - What new tenant inherited

30-Apr-14, 08:51
Moonshine spirited away by illicit distillers

MY previous extract from my the files of my journalist father, John “Hot News” Donaldson dealt with moonshining or the illicit production of liquor, and hinted at the spirit being distilled at a house in the Wick area. His story appeared in the long-since defunct Sunday Dispatch, on December 22, 1935, the year before he married and was headed GLAMOUR SHELTERS THE MOONSHINERS.

A BIG drive is being planned against the illicit stills in Caithness.
Fiery spirit is being produced at less than a shilling a bottle. The big problem for the Excisemen, is that nobody will willingly be an informer. The crofters are far more ready to warn the operators of the poteen stills. There is a glamour about the moonshiners.
This week, a man from Wick contemplated taking a house at Broadhaven, a small village on the coast about a mile from Wick. The house had been untenanted for a long time. The man from Wick got the key and went out to have a look at the property. In the cellar he found an illicit still which had obviously been worked recently. There was a copper “worm” neatly coiled inside a tin and beside it, a large can in which the “wash” had been prepared before being distilled. Only the copper pot was missing. A chimney leading from the cellar provide an outlet for the smoke from the fire which heated the pot. But the prospective tenant's most interesting discovery was a large carboy containing a quantity of “moonshine”.
The tenant waited a few days until he received confirmation of the lease from the agent. Then he went to the Exicse officers at Wick and asked them ro remove the still. The officials joyfully said “yes”. Hiring a car, two of their officers sped to Broadhaven. Hoever the owners of the illicit still were too quick. The lock of the cellar had been forced and the still with the carboy full of moonshine had vanished.
There is a parish in Caithness where a dozen copper pots of illicit stills are reputed to be hidden. Illicit distilling is a simple process. Fermented barley with yeast or brown sugar is heated in the copper pot. The vapour passes through a water-cooled “worm” (the copper coil) and the poteen drips into a receptacle. The moonshiners usually work on a storm night when the wind carries away the pungent fumes which would betray their operations. They also like to have running water to hand to cool the worm quickly.