Scotland: it’s full of mysteries and tales from the past. Legends who battled the sea, fought for their lives, and inadvertently travelled halfway across the world.
This is the story that inspired our rum.
This is the story of the North Point Pilots.
It begins in the 1700s, a century of trade and exploration. There’s a water channel not far from here called the Pentland Firth. It lies between the tip of the Scottish mainland and the Orkney Islands. It’s an extremely dangerous, unrelenting, unpredictable area of the sea - with a reputation for metre high swells and the most powerful tidal currents in the world.
So famous and widely known is this Firth, that even in the 1300s, John Fordun described it as having ‘treacherous whirlpools’. Now we’ve set the scene, you can imagine the peril for passing ships.
Merchants, captains and crew would make their voyage for the Americas, carrying slate, spices and other produce on their vessels. The problem was, they often had to venture through the Pentland Firth. Without lighthouses, navigators and most importantly, the ‘Northern pilots’, they would not have succeeded.
In every fishing village along the North Coast of Scotland, these ‘pilots’ would be ready and waiting for ships who signalled for help. The pilots were mostly local fisherman with unparalleled knowledge of the water, so when a ship required assistance, they would row out to meet the vessel and help them on their way.
After helping, most pilots would return safely to shore. However, many found themselves borne away, struggling to keep control of their ships and suddenly taking an unexpected voyage across the ocean. There are stories of pilots being whisked away from their beloved Scotland and finding themselves on the long and arduous journey to the Caribbean! These wayward pilots would find work in the sugar and rum trade while they waited for a merchant ship to take them back to Britain.