Dalmore Daytime

Dalmore Daytime
Sandy Beach

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Dalmore. The Old Folks'Whisky Still.

One summer's day my attention was drawn to a small wall structure on the opposite side of the road from the Old Houses,beside a stream in Murdo Mackay's croft at No.3 Dalmore. Murdo was the son of one of the original crofters from 1920-1923,Calum Mackay who was a soldier in the Boer War in South Africa around 1898. Not surprisingly his nom de "guerre" was The Boer,and his son was called Murdo Boer,corrupted to the "Bear". Looking at this small wall by the stream,my first thought was that it was a Norse style mill(for flour),there being many of them in the area.Murdo happened along at this time and asked what I thought it was."I would guess that it had been a mill",I said. The Bear replied that it had been a still for making whisky and operated by the men of the Old Houses nearby. It was illegal of course,but was one of many such stills in the district. Murdo then related the following story about this still. The men from the Old Houses cooperated in their whisky venture,drinking some of it,but the greater part of the distillate was each time poured into a large wooden barrel,and reserved for special occasions such as weddings or New Year.
Over in the houses,the womenfolk would be engaged in their normal activities of perhaps cooking,knitting or even having a good "blether". The women were all older with the exception of one young woman,a feisty lady unhappy with her present lot. "The men are overby,drinking whisky and enjoying themselves,and it is always the same! I'm going over there to join them". The other women said nothing,but their demeanour expressed disapproval,even fear. The young woman made her way to the still house to find, in the glow of some candles,that the menfolk were in a deep and drunken sleep,lying about the floor of the house,surrounding the large whisky barrel. The woman,small in stature,determined to get herself a good dram from the barrel. Picking up a ladel that was there,she leaned over the rim of this large barrel to find it half full of whisky. She struggled to reach the whisky ,but finally,with her waist over the rim,she managed to scoop up a little whisky,but in doing so,overbalanced and slid head-first into the whisky.The unfotunate woman,with no one fit to help her,was wedged in the barrel and drowned there.When the men awoke,they were confronted with a dreadful sight.

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