Spooky season is here, with the advent of Halloween we will take a look at some of the creepiest stories from Scottish folklore surrounding scotch, ranging from nightmarish beasts to haunted distilleries.
Halloween itself has its roots in Scottish and Irish culture, with the pre- Christian Celtic festival of Samhain (Summer’s End) being adapted into the holiday we know today. So what better way to celebrate the season than looking at the link between scotch and spooks!
In Scottish folklore, the "Muckle Black Tyke" is a large black dog that presides over witches’ sabbaths with some stories asserting the beast to be the Devil himself. On one night while walking home from work at the Tomatin Distillery, a worker caught sight of a fearsome spectral hound running through the woods. As the snarling beast drew closer, rather than be frightened the man attempted to touch the ethereal creature. Which promptly manifested into a blue mist, leaving the man stunned.
This tale inspired the distillery to release: Tomatin Cù Bòcan (meaning ‘ghost-dog’), a ‘subtly smoky, surprisingly sweet’ bottle with citrus tones.
The Glen Moray distillery at Elgin, in Speyside, has long had a history of horror, being built upon the land where the town’s gallows once stood during the Middle Ages. Numerous employees and visitors over the years have reported strange presences and cold spots throughout the building. At one point seven skulls were discovered underneath the distillery, which were on display at the site before being properly re-buried.
One of the local pubs in Elgin, the Thunderton House, is even said to be haunted by Bonnie Prince Charlie himself! Just before his defeat at the Battle of Culloden (1746), the Prince stayed at the pub, which at that time was a royal hunting lodge. Employees at the pub report that the poltergeist of the Prince would move furniture around and even once knocked the night’s takings off the bar.
Glen Moray 16 Year Old 2005 Tokaji Finish - Warehouse 1, a spicy malt with a rich finish and a sweet honey smell.
Jura Distillery, Isle of Jura
With less than 200 inhabitants in the modern day and much of its land being covered in mist soaked blanket bogs, the Isle of Jura makes a beautiful but haunting setting for ghost stories.
In 1791, the Laird of Jura closed down the only distillery on the island leading to a dearth of scotch. Years later the Laird would awaken to see a phantasmal elderly woman hovering over his bed, berating him for the lack of whisky on the island. The experience, according to legend, frightened him enough to reopen a distillery in the old smuggler’s cave at Craighouse in 1810. In order to ensure the ghost did not return, the Laird left a bottle of whisky in a hidden cave.
Jura 21 Year Old Tide, having rested in American white oak bourbon casks this whisky has a gingerbread and caramel with a hint of tropical fruit nose, a walnut and marzipan palate culminating in a peppery finish.
Travelling from Jura to the nearby Isle of Islay, there are many spooky tales related to the oldest distillery on the island, founded in 1779. Ranging from the vaults below the distillery being haunted by an apparition to distillery workers chasing the devil off the island in a whisky cask. However, there is one tale that has set itself as a tradition among the inhabitants of Islay. The Headless Horseman of Bowmore:
One dark and stormy night, a crofter named Lachlan Bàn returned home, and saw to his horror a headless horseman riding away from his house. The door was wide open and sat upon his table was a bottle of Bowmore with a rather large dram missing! From then on, islanders would never offer guests an opened bottle, for fear of attracting the headless horseman.
Bowmore Blair Castle Horse Trials 2001, this luxurious Bowmore is certainly for special occasions holding a gentle peaty quality with a floral flourish upon finish.
Be sure to check back next year for more scotch whisky ghost stories. If you are interested in alleviating your financial fears for the future, get in touch and see how Hackstons can help to expand your whisky cask investment portfolio.