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Pioneering Spirit

A project delivered in partnership with The Glenlivet
A whisky still at Creag Padraig, hidden amongst a rocky crag. Trees grow out of the rockface.

We’re partnering with The Glenlivet, the original Speyside single malt whisky, to uncover and share the history and impact that illicit whisky production has had on Scotland’s cultural heritage and its modern way of life.


The Glenlivet and the Trust, who both play a pivotal role in Scotland’s cultural heritage, are combining archive research with archaeological digs across The Glenlivet site and at National Trust for Scotland locations.

The archaeological digs will uncover the illicit stills and forgotten bothies that were used to illegally produce and smuggle Scotch whisky across the Highlands in the early 1800s. This industry affected almost every aspect of Scottish life, from trade to immigration and even family dynamics.

The Underground Whisky Club online event

Thursday 1 July, 7–8.30pm

Beaming into your living room from the home of The Glenlivet, the Underground Whisky Club is an online event inspired by our Pioneering Spirit project. You’ll have the opportunity to hear about the digs being undertaken by the Trust’s archaeologists and the stories that have been unearthed across Scotland. It will also be the first opportunity to see and hear new artistic commissions inspired by Scotland’s history and the illicit whisky trade.

Featured artists include Alison Irvine, a novelist and creative non-fiction writer; Kevin Andrew Morris, an Aberdeen-based ceramicist; Michael Begg, an award-winning composer and sound artist; and Natalie Feather, a photographic artist.

Book your free ticket now

Whisky stories

We recently launched a public appeal for people to share their stories about whisky production in Scotland, to give us further insight into the history of our illicit stills. Click on the pictures below to find out more.

“Our charity is always searching for new ways to tell Scotland’s stories, and this project will help us shed light on a really fascinating era in Scotland’s history.”
Derek Alexander
Head of Archaeology at the National Trust for Scotland