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TITLE
Whisky Still, Colbost, Isle of Skye
EXTERNAL ID
SLD_182_055
PLACENAME
Colbost
DISTRICT
Skye
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Duirinish
PERIOD
1970s; 1980s
CREATOR
Olivia James
SOURCE
Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre
ASSET ID
39500
KEYWORDS
Colbost Folk Museum
black houses
blackhouse
crofthouse
crofting
distilling
whisky stills
thatch
thatched cottage
thatched roofs
Whisky Still, Colbost, Isle of Skye

The interior of a small thatched building housing a mock illicit whisky still. It is one of the buildings which comprise the open air museum situated at Colbost on the Isle of Skye which opened in 1969.

The word 'whisky' is derived from the Gaelic 'uisge beatha', meaning 'water of life'. Many Highlanders distilled whisky at home from malted barley. Its warming properties were valued in a cold climate and it also served as a medicinal tonic and occasionally as an anaesthetic. In the early eighteenth century the government began to tax whisky and the level of the tax rose steadily over the years. This was difficult to enforce in remote areas such as the Highlands but there were nevertheless violent confrontations between the excise men and the distillers or smugglers of illicitly-produced whisky.

In 1823, the Excise Act was passed. It set taxes at a level which made distilling a viable business while still raising money for the government. This had the effect of considerably reducing the amount of illicit distilling.


Olivia James
The images in this collection are a selection from a set of high quality Agfachrome slides taken by Olivia James. Mrs James, a semi-professional photographer, took the photographs on visits to Skye between 1968 and 1989, using a Pentax S1A camera and CT 18 film. They record a variety of locations, people and activities which have now changed or indeed disappeared, and provide one person's view of the island through the camera lens. Born in Elderslie, Renfrewshire on 26th April 1932, Olive Grace James (née Purcell) moved to England in 1944, trained as a teacher and married Richard James in 1956. Her husband's forbears were from Skye and they began visiting on a regular basis in 1968. In addition to the slides, Mrs James has written an evocative account of her memories of places, events and people on Skye which she named 'Skye Magic', a copy of which is held at the Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre.
'Skye Magic' has been incorporated into her privately printed autobiography 'Neivie, Neivie, Nick, Nack' which she has kindly donated to various institutions including the Clan Donald Library on Skye, the Mitchell Library in Glasgow and the Weaver's Cottage, Kilbarchan.


This image may be available to purchase.
For further information about purchasing and prices please email
Skye and Lochalsh Archives

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Whisky Still, Colbost, Isle of Skye

INVERNESS: Duirinish

1970s; 1980s

Colbost Folk Museum; black houses; blackhouse; crofthouse; crofting; distilling; whisky stills; thatch; thatched cottage; thatched roofs

Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre

Olivia James Collection

The interior of a small thatched building housing a mock illicit whisky still. It is one of the buildings which comprise the open air museum situated at Colbost on the Isle of Skye which opened in 1969.<br /> <br /> The word 'whisky' is derived from the Gaelic 'uisge beatha', meaning 'water of life'. Many Highlanders distilled whisky at home from malted barley. Its warming properties were valued in a cold climate and it also served as a medicinal tonic and occasionally as an anaesthetic. In the early eighteenth century the government began to tax whisky and the level of the tax rose steadily over the years. This was difficult to enforce in remote areas such as the Highlands but there were nevertheless violent confrontations between the excise men and the distillers or smugglers of illicitly-produced whisky. <br /> <br /> In 1823, the Excise Act was passed. It set taxes at a level which made distilling a viable business while still raising money for the government. This had the effect of considerably reducing the amount of illicit distilling.<br /> <br /> <br /> <b>Olivia James</b><br /> The images in this collection are a selection from a set of high quality Agfachrome slides taken by Olivia James. Mrs James, a semi-professional photographer, took the photographs on visits to Skye between 1968 and 1989, using a Pentax S1A camera and CT 18 film. They record a variety of locations, people and activities which have now changed or indeed disappeared, and provide one person's view of the island through the camera lens. Born in Elderslie, Renfrewshire on 26th April 1932, Olive Grace James (née Purcell) moved to England in 1944, trained as a teacher and married Richard James in 1956. Her husband's forbears were from Skye and they began visiting on a regular basis in 1968. In addition to the slides, Mrs James has written an evocative account of her memories of places, events and people on Skye which she named 'Skye Magic', a copy of which is held at the Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre.<br /> 'Skye Magic' has been incorporated into her privately printed autobiography 'Neivie, Neivie, Nick, Nack' which she has kindly donated to various institutions including the Clan Donald Library on Skye, the Mitchell Library in Glasgow and the Weaver's Cottage, Kilbarchan. <br /> <br /> <br /> This image may be available to purchase.<br /> For further information about purchasing and prices please email<br /> <a href="mailto: skyeandlochalsh.archives@highlifehighland.com ">Skye and Lochalsh Archives</a>