Whisky has been produced traditionally by local farmers for ages till the damned day in the XVth century, where Charles I decided to earn a lot of money with this activity. So he decided to tax the production of alcohol on the whole territory. The Scottish parliament closed on his heels very quickly. This had dramatic consequences for the local farmers, and in fact the production of alcoholic beverages was limited to some privileged classes.
This was also the beginning of a great adventure where the law and the local farmers deployed a vivid imagination. Humour was not always absent of this tribulations. For instance, Hellen Cumming, the wife of a moonshine distiller invited systematically the excise agents to have a nice meal when they came around for a control. This let his husband the time to disappear in the surrounding mountains. At a corner of the barn, she used to hang a red flag, which her husband could see from his hiding place. As long as the flag was flying over the barn, he knew the excise men still were present at the farm.
The Cummings decided later to buy a licence and they founded the Cardhu distillery some years later.
The most exciting period for the smugglers was certainly when the excise administration thought to have found a perfect system to dismantle all the illegal distilleries by encouraging denouncement. They decided to give 5 pounds (a real fortune in those days) to anybody who would help them to find illegal stills. Lots of smugglers helped them to find their old rusted stills, and with this money bought new ones. At a certain time, there were about 400 illegal distilleries around Edinburgh, and just 8 legal ones.. The "Excise Act" in 1824 meant progressively the end of moonshine distilling. It took about ten more years, and it was over.