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FEATURE: EXCISEMEN • 29 AGENDA •


Ian returned to Knockdhu, one of his former workplaces, to be photographed for this article


with a distillery when I was posted to Cameronbridge Distillery in Windygates, near Kirkcaldy. I was one of three excisemen living and working on the site. In the past, there were nine officers but, because of changing excise practices, such as taking representative samples of spirit from casks instead of checking all the stock, fewer officers were required. However, there was plenty to do for the three of us, as it was a large operation. Our main role was to monitor and ensure the security of the site’s whisky production and we held several important keys for the distillery plant and warehouses. Nothing moved unless the distillery officer was there with the keys to supervise – the locks could not be tampered with without breaking the official paper seal over the keyhole of each Crown Lock


padlock, which was replaced after opening. We worked on three shifts, or “courses”, and


were helped by three Revenue assistants – called “watchers” – whose primary job was to oversee the security of the casks in the warehouses and ensure that the correct numbers of casks were delivered to the bottling plant on the correct days. The first shift started at 7am when the officer opened the safe and gave the keys of the warehouse doors to the Revenue assistants. The officer then took the distillery keys and recorded the spirit charge – the amount of spirit that was produced since the last charge, which was probably about 2pm on the previous day. Only then was it pumped from the spirit receiver over


CONTINUED OVERLEAF THE SCOTCH MALT WHISKY SOCIETY


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