Until the passing of the Excise Act in 1823, illicit distilleries were common place throughout the Speyside area. It was under this legislation that legal distilleries could be formed, subject to holding a license. Alexander Gordon, 4th Duke of Gordon, was allegedly instrumental in the passing of this legislation.
Although there is no historical record of his involvement in the issue, his tenant, George Smith, became the first person in Glenlivet to apply for and receive a license to legally produce spirit. In 1824, The Glenlivet distillery was established at Upper Drumin by George and his youngest son John Gordon Smith.