Lancashire illicit 'Whisky Spinners'

The Whisky Spinners of Lancashire is a fascinating topic that combines the rich history of the whisky industry with the textile heritage of Lancashire, England.
Published on Sunday, 1 October 2023

Lancashire illicit 'Whisky Spinners'


When thinking about the history of whisky, people often overlook the English. While Scotland and Ireland are often associated with whisky production, England also has a rich history in this realm.

First whisky production in England dates back to the 1200s. Monks distilled spirits for medicine and paved the way for modern whiskey makers. That said, modern day whisky enthusiasts would struggle to stomach what the monks called aqua vitae back then!

And, by the late 1800s, the whisky business was a major industry in England, with notable distilleries popping up throughout the country.

Using traditional pot stills to create a distinctive English style that differed from what the Scots were making. English whisky was light and silky smooth. It gained fame throughout the British Empire and even further a field.

Unfortunately, the Excise Act of 1823 made it easier for smaller distillers to get licenses, but led to a decline in the number of English distilleries. Many small-scale producers couldn’t compete with larger Scottish distilleries.

As a result, some distillers made whisky illegally.. The Morris family of Haslingden, Lancashire, kept producing whiskey illegally until the late 1900s. One of many stories of moonshiners in the Rossendale Valley and an important part of the region’s history.

Whisky Spinners of Lancashire

The Whisky Spinners of Lancashire is a fascinating topic that combines the rich history of the whisky industry with the textile heritage of Lancashire, England. The term "whisky spinners" refers to a group of individuals who were involved in the production of whisky in the 18th and 19th centuries. During this time, Lancashire was known for its thriving textile industry, particularly cotton spinning and weaving. However, due to various economic factors, including competition from foreign markets, many textile workers found themselves unemployed or underemployed. In order to make ends meet, some of these workers turned to an alternative trade - whisky production.

English whisky production dwindled and has all but disappeared. Many active whisky distilleries turned to making other spirits, such as gin. However, things are changing and we’re seeing an English whisky revival.

New English distilleries are giving traditional distillation processes a fresh take using new technology. And the results make for some good drinking, quality whiskies with complex tastes.

5 English whisky distillers to consider

  1. The Lakes Distillery: The Lakes Distillery, located in Cumbria, England, is known for producing high-quality single malt whiskies. They use traditional production methods and locally sourced ingredients to create a range of expressions that showcase the unique character of the region.
  2. Cotswolds Distillery: Situated in the picturesque Cotswolds region of England, Cotswolds Distillery is renowned for its award-winning whiskies. They produce small-batch single malt whisky using locally grown barley and traditional pot stills, resulting in rich and flavorful spirits.
  3. The English Whisky Co.: The English Whisky Co., based in Norfolk, England, is one of the pioneers of English whisky production. They produce a variety of single malt whiskies using traditional methods and locally grown barley. Their whiskies have gained recognition for their smoothness and complexity.
  4. Bimber Distillery: Bimber Distillery, located in London, is known for its artisanal approach to whisky production. They focus on small-batch single malt whisky made from locally sourced ingredients. Bimber whiskies exhibit a range of flavors and have gained popularity among whisky enthusiasts.
  5. The Cotswold Distilling Company: The Cotswold Distilling Company is another notable English whisky producer situated in the Cotswolds region. They craft their whiskies using locally grown barley, traditional copper pot stills, and long fermentation times to create rich and aromatic spirits.

English whisky is carving out its own niche in the industry. Distillers continuing to experiment and push boundaries. The future of English whisky is bright. Cheers to that!