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Strathspey

The Mountain

Creag Dhu (A’ Chreag Dhubh – the black rock) at 2350 feet, is a picturesque hill cut off from the rest of the Monadhliath (Am Monadh Liath – the grey mountain range) by a stunning peatland glen, Glen Banchor, overlooking the River Spey. It is prominent from the local town of Newtonmore and its name is the battle cry of the Clan MacPherson.

With beautifully wooded lower slopes, Creag Dhu provides a rich peatland habitat for a range of important species. Red deer, roe deer and sika deer. Eagles, wildcats and the wild goats that live on the hill.

It is famed amongst rock-climbers for the steep crags on its southern flanks. To the south and west, the eye is drawn along the upper reaches of the Spey valley to the hills of the central highlands. From all points of the ridge, there are extensive views enhanced by the hill’s isolated position.
Whisky casks

The River

Creag Dhu is a very traditional whisky made using time-honoured Scotch whisky distilling techniques that have not changed for centuries.

The care that is taken, from the selection of the very best barley varieties, malting process through to the mashing, distilling and cask ageing process is what give Creag Dhu it’s incredible flavour, complexity and smoothness.

Whisky casks

Illicit Distilling History

Well hidden under the cliffs of Creag Dhu also existed for hundreds of years, a well renowned illicit whisky distilling site that functioned until recent years. Creag Dhu’s colourful claim in the world of whisky was its unofficial site for lucrative and illegal whisky distilling. The trade flourished here in the late 18th and early 19th centuries by which time the government had declared the process of private distillation in small stills illegal.

Creag Dhu was an ideal site for the practice due to its proximity to grain-producing farmland and isolation which made it difficult to police. Local judges, landlords, and other influential members of the local communities were also allegedly benefitting from the trade, further hampering the armed forces’ efforts to encourage the licensing of distilleries.

The illicit trade for the majority of its market was eventually stamped out by the 1823 Excise Act which reduced duty by over 50 percent, levelling the playing field for licenced and unlicensed distillers. A few locals know well of the location of Creag Dhu’s illicit distilling but as far as anyone is aware it has not been used in recent years.

Whisky casks

Illicit Distilling History

Well hidden under the cliffs of Creag Dhu also existed for hundreds of years, a well renowned illicit whisky distilling site that functioned until recent years. Creag Dhu’s colourful claim in the world of whisky was its unofficial site for lucrative and illegal whisky distilling. The trade flourished here in the late 18th and early 19th centuries by which time the government had declared the process of private distillation in small stills illegal.

Creag Dhu was an ideal site for the practice due to its proximity to grain-producing farmland and isolation which made it difficult to police. Local judges, landlords, and other influential members of the local communities were also allegedly benefitting from the trade, further hampering the armed forces’ efforts to encourage the licensing of distilleries.

The illicit trade for the majority of its market was eventually stamped out by the 1823 Excise Act which reduced duty by over 50 percent, levelling the playing field for licenced and unlicensed distillers. A few locals ‘in the know’ know well of the location of Creag Dhu’s illicit distilling but as far as anyone is aware it has not been used in recent years.
Whisky casks

The Noble Goats of Creag Dhu

Creag Dhu has a population of several hundred wild goats who, along with their ancestors, have been enjoying the hill for many a year through sunshine and snow. Brought over from the Isle of Islay in the 1950s, the goats were purchased and moved to the mountain to assist the local laird whose flock of sheep kept falling from the cliffs towering edges. After growing tired of the loss of his animals and having to physically belay himself or his shepherd down the side of the mountain to rescue ewes that had found themselves stuck on the ledges, he decided to do something about it.

Goats are naturally attracted to the cliff edges, known for their ability to climb and balance in precarious places. The laird knew that they would choose the areas closest to the cliffs edge to graze which would, in turn, result in there being no grass in those areas for the sheep to snack on, pushing them away from the edges and further into the mountain’s safer landscapes. The goats are easily seen today grazing on the cliff’s edges. They are now a self-sustaining and totally wild population.

Whisky casks