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Industrial evolution

Better times for legal distilleries

While the government was fighting hard against the moonshine distillers, the legal distilleries experienced a significant improvement of their activities. From the 1780's, number of legal distilleries has been founded in the Lowlands.
Two great families especially enjoyed from this expansion: the Stein (allied to the Haig) and the Philp, owners of the Kilbagie, Kennetpans and Dolls distilleries. Kilbalgie, belonging to the Stein will become the biggest distillery of Scotland, and will later be converted in a paper mill which is still active currently. The Stein, allied to the Haig founded the Canonmills and Lochrin distilleries in Edinburgh and Kincaple in St Andrews at the same period. Other distilleries were born too in those days, like Blackhall (Alexander Dewar), Underwood and Hattonburn. This distilleries became quickly the heart of the economic life in the Lowlands. Their production waste was used to feed the cattle, and the distilleries were rapidly considered as essential to the local agriculture. On the other hand, they offered great prospects to the local coal mines.

First whisky export

The production in the Lowlands had reached such a level that the local market has become to small, and the Stein were looking for other outlets. They sold their whisky to the gin producers who used it for rectification of their blends. 
The pernicious effect of this was that the local barley production was insufficient to cover the needs of the distilleries, and the first imports of barley from England and Europe took place during this period. 
Thanks to this import, the industry survived the very bad harvests between 1782 and 1784 which caused a starvation on the whole Scottish territory, and especially in the Highlands. This did not impeach the distilleries to go on with their production, provoking riots by hungry people.
The government supported the distilleries, because of their economic importance.

1784: Wash Act

An intensification of the controls by the excise administration on the legal distilleries permitted the Wash Act to be published in 1784. The spirit of this law was a simplification of the taxation method. The taxation level was also considerably decreased in Scotland and in England, because the independence war in America was ended.
Instead of taxing the "low wines" and the spirit separately, only the washwas taken into consideration under the new law. The tax was based on the assumption that 5 gallons of wash produced 1 gallon of spirit between 55% and 65%. This system was accompanied by very strict controls, which could took place any time in day or night. 

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