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whisky art

Scotch Whisky by John Lamond

"A Momentous Day In World's History" ran the headline in The American Issue on January 16, 1919. It was the day that Nebraska became the 36th state to ratify the Dry Amendment, which became the Volstead Act and outlawed alcohol in the US from 1920 until its repeal in 1933.

One hundred years on and there are still some counties in the US that are dry. The temperance movement gained some success in the UK around the same time. In fact, in the town of Wick, the experiment was more successful than it was in the United States. Following the establishment of the Temperance (Scotland) Act in 1913, the local ward in Wick voted on May 28, 1922, by a majority of 62%, to go "dry" -- and stayed off the booze for 25 years to the day.

It all began in 1840 when the Wick And Pulteneytown Total Abstinence Society was formed under the direction of the local Methodist minister. In the mid to late 19th century, there was a growing intolerance towards alcohol and a view that only total abstention would remove the blight of drunkenness and alcoholism from society. Wick at the time was the largest herring fishing port in the world and it was claimed that there were so many fishing boats anchored there that you could walk across the harbour without getting your feet wet.

Many men working in the fishing industry spent a great deal of their weekly wages in the pub on a Friday night before they got home, creating poverty in some areas of towns and cities.

The full text of this article is available in the Autumnr 2019 issue of Scottish Life.

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