With Halloween fast approaching, we decided to share some spooky whisky tales from various distilleries. Discretion advised!
Some distilleries have been around for hundreds of years. In some cases, distillery owners and long time employees have died at the sites in accidents or by committing suicide. Even to this day, distillery employees regale guests with accounts of strange and unexplained phenomena thought to occur at the distilleries. On more than one occasion the workers claim to have witnessed ghosts. One of the tales below even include a headless horseman!
This distillery was founded in 1879 and no known ghostly events occurred there for a while. That was the case until the beginning of the 20th century. Two African boys were rescued from a famine in Matabeleland (modern day Zimbabwe) by General Grant, the founder of Glen Grant distillery. One of the boys, ‘Byeway’ Makalaga, ended up living in Glen Grant house until 1972. Some seven years later, Glenrothes distillery added a couple of stills to its still house. The ghost of Byeway appeared in no less than two occasions. This was, according to some, because the new pot stills crossed a leyline unwittingly.
Up until today, toasts are offered to the memory of Byeway. The ghost has not been seen again.
Dalas Dhu distillery
This defunct distillery located in Forres, is now a visitor attraction. Many visitors claim that they felt a ‘strong and intelligent’ presence around them when touring the museum-distillery. Those who mention this to the staff members are told the story of the distillery employee who drowned in one of the massive mash tuns decades earlier. If their tales are to be believed, when the visitor centre gets quieter, steps and unexplained noises are often heard where the malting floors once were. The old and stiff light switches appear to be turned at night and very often, workers will go to the distillery in the morning and find the lights on.
The decommissioned floor maltings at the distillery are said to be haunted by the ghost of ‘the White Lady’. This mysterious ghost is said to also have a skill for removing wallpaper from the walls without tearing it. A former distillery manager once said that the walls ‘were bone dry’ and as such ‘there was no explanation’ for the mysterious removal of wallpaper. The sceptics claim that ‘The White Lady’ was simply a tale devised to keep the maltsters productive during the long nights shifts.
We wouldn’t recommend risking it!
Glen Scotia distillery
This distillery has the ghost of one of the former owners/directors of the distillery (Duncan MacCallum) as a permanent resident. This businessman drowned himself in the Campbeltown Loch (a loch used to supply the distillery with water) after his newly acquired distillery went under. Up until today distillery workers would never venture into the secluded areas of the distillery when it’s dark.
This ‘business ghost’ is said to keep a close eye on contractors whom often claim that they feel like ‘they’re being watched’ by a ghostly presence when carrying work at the distillery. Could it be that the ghost wants to ensure that no more business deals turn sour for his beloved distillery?
If you thought the above sightings were nothing out of the ordinary then wait until you read the spookiest story of them all. On a dark and stormy night on Islay Lachlan Ban, a local crofter, returned home just to see a headless horseman riding away from his house. His front door was wide open and when he ventured into his place he realised that the fire had gone out and on top of that an open bottle of Bowmore whisky had been left behind by the headless horseman! There was a large dram missing from the bottle and the fearful Lachlan decided not to risk it. He threw the bottle away.
Workers at Bowmore often tell a story from many generations ago. The devil himself was chased away by distillery workers. The devil ran away and down from Kilarrow parish church to a paddle steamer laden with casks of Bowmore single malt. He sailed for the mainland and was never seen again.
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