Farming, crofting or gamekeeping was the chief income of The Cabrach locals. But that wasn't always enough. The marshy landscape and remoteness of The Cabrach made it perfectly suited for hiding small stills, and so illicit distilling developed and thrived. It’s thought over 100 stills were secreted around the rugged landscape at any one time. At the start of the 19th century The Cabrach whiskies were highly sought-after, and considered as valuable as those from the famous Glenlivet.
However the 1823 Excise Act signalled a death knell for illegal distilling, prompting many of The Cabrach’s illicit whisky operators to flee the area, their livelihoods lost. While a few legal enterprises emerged, the remoteness that allowed illicit distilling to thrive became their commercial downfall. Whisky was easier to produce in and around Scotland’s bustling towns.