Glenlivet is a special place in Speyside. Translated from Gaelic, the name means ‘valley of the smooth-flowing one’. Those who christened it were most likely referring to the River Livet, which surfaces high in the Ladder Hills and meanders down to join the Avon. But something altogether more sought-after has been flowing here for centuries: whisky.
At the beginning of the 19th century, when heavy taxation meant illegal distillation ran rife, the craggy peaks and sheer gorges provided perfect cover for smugglers who wanted to hide from the authorities.
If you had asked them, they would have told you that it was well worth the risk; the whisky distilled here was unsurpassed. Whisky from Glenlivet was even requested by name by King George IV on a state visit to Scotland in 1822. Most people were shocked that a monarch would request an illicit dram. A local man by the name of George Smith was not. He saw an opportunity.