top of page
Whisky Galore

UK Film Poster for Whisky Galore! 1949

the Whisky Wreck Incident of 1941

Feb 5

Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day

Today's Musings, History & Folklore

“Love makes the world go round? Not at all. Whisky makes it go round twice as fast.”

~ Whisky Galore! Compton Mackenzie, 1947

Inspired by the real events of 1941, when a cargo ship ran aground in the channel between Eriskay and South Uist, "Whisky Galore" is a comedic novel by Compton Mackenzie, set during World War II on the fictional Scottish Hebridean islands of Great Todday and Little Todday. The story unfolds when the islanders face a dire whisky shortage, a situation that reaches a critical point until the cargo ship S.S. Cabinet Minister runs aground nearby during a fog. The ship's precious cargo? 50,000 cases of whisky bound for America, now at risk of sinking into the sea. The islanders see this as a miraculous solution to their woes and embark on a series of clandestine operations to salvage the whisky under the cover of night, all while dodging the local Home Guard and customs officials. The novel formed the basis for the 1949 Ealing comedy of the same name, Whisky Galore! directed by Alexander Mackendrick, featuring a ceilidh with a Half Reel & Tulloch and and Scottish Country Dance Eightsome Reel! Slàinte! 🥃

Whisky Galore

Today, February 5th, marks the anniversary in 1941 of the incidents that led to the novel and two films of the same name - "Whisky Galore!"

Adapted from the novel "Whisky Galore" by Compton MacKenzie, the 1949 film on the same name was remade in 2016.

The novel and adapted films are based on the real-life 1941 shipwreck of the S.S. Politician near the island of Eriskay and the unauthorised taking of its cargo of whisky. The plot deals with the attempts of Scottish islanders to take advantage of an unexpected windfall, despite opposition from British authorities.

On 5 February 1941, during gale force winds, the S.S. Politician ran aground off the Island of Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides and later broke in two near the islet of Calvay. The crew were all unharmed and were looked after by the locals for a while.

But when the locals learned from the crew what the ship was carrying, a series of illegal and well-organised salvage operations took place before the customs and excise officials arrived.


The island's supplies of whisky had dried up due to war-time rationing, so the islanders periodically helped themselves to some of the 28,000 cases (264,000 bottles) of Scotch whisky before winter weather broke up the ship. The men wore women's dresses on their "fishing trips", to keep their own clothes from being covered in incriminating oil from the ship's holds.  The islanders considered the rescue of this  bounty in line with the rules of salvage, but the local customs officer was incensed.   The police raided villages and crofts looking for the whisky.  

Bottles were hidden, secreted, or simply drunk in order to hide the evidence.

To learn about the two recently auctioned bottles from the actual shipwreck, click the whisky of the same name!

Whisky Galore

Click the dance cribs or description below to link to a printable version of the dance!

Whisky Galore

Jan    Feb    Mar    Apr    May    Jun    Jul    Aug    Sep    Oct    Nov    Dec

WELCOME TO An Entertainment Site for Scottish Country Dancers - Enjoy the curated selection of theme-related dances for celebrations and holidays, or find a dance associated with a special calendar day, or EVEN your own birthday!  

bottom of page