Dress Sense

Written by Sholto Ramsay on Tuesday, 22 May 2012. Posted in Scotch Whisky

When it came to concealing their wares, the smugglers had a style all their own. Wearing a size too big or a few extra layers was an ideal way of getting goods back and forth, and many a togged-up distiller was notorious for "keeping it under his hat." But, of course, there was always the risk of a "body search."

Sunday Trading

One big Highland smuggler who operated in the area of the Sidlaw Hills took advantage of the gaugers' Sabbath rest by putting his Sunday best to good use. He sold his wares to thirsty picnic parties under cover of a big overcoat he wore whatever the season. This concealed a flagon of whisky shaped like a breastplate, complete with a small dispensing tap. Once the deal was done, he would simply button up and move on.

Job For the Girls

Long skirts proved ideal disguise for the bladder-skins that became popular for the ferrying of whisky - it was thought that keeping them close to the body even increased the strength of the spirit. So women were some of the most expert smugglers.

Although this was often an excuse for coarse searches on the part of the gaugers, their victims were usually more than able to hold their own - often in the most unladylike way. One known professional at this method was Jean Anderson, from just outside Dundee, who was widowed when she was quite young and supported herself by making and transporting peatreak - all by the bladder method.

One of her greatest successes was supplying the whisky for a friend's daughter's wedding. Jean was more than delighted to do the honours and only too happy to attend the event - but she knew the gaugers had been vigilant and she was wary of such a high-profile commission. Undaunted, she rode to the wedding on her pony dressed in a gigantic silver and gold ball-gown that had been a gift from one of her customers. It was just the thing to hide the bladders of amber nectar hanging from the saddle of her trustee steed!