Scotch on the Rocks
Book Cover

Scotch on the Rocks (2005)

Available from: Amazon

  • Paperback: 186 pages
  • Publisher: Luath Press Ltd (1 October, 2005)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 1905222092
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905222094


Description | Author | Reviews & Articles

You can still watch the Flash short intro movie made specially for the original Scotch on the Rocks micro site in 2005. Sadly the original Flash file is missing so we have to make due with a video-version of the original. Enjoy! - (


Short Description (from Amazon)

SCOTCH ON THE ROCKS, the true story of the sinking of The Politician, the ship which spawned Sir Compton MacKenzie’s world famous wartime yarn Whisky Galore, has been re-published by Edinburgh based Luath Press. Author Arthur Swinson’s seminal work was published in 1963 to much critical acclaim but has been out of print for 40 years. Its re-publication has a foreword by the author’s daughter, columnist and writer, Antonia Swinson.

Says publisher MacDougall: "The story of The Politician and its cargo of 22,000 cases of fine malt whisky occupies a unique place in the public consciousness. Arthur Swinson’s work is a long lost gem and we are delighted to be publishing his account especially at a time when the fictionalised story is about to be brought to a new generation of film-goers."

Scotch on the Rocks tells the fascinating story of how the 8,000 ton Politician, with its enormous cargo of nearly a quarter of a million bottles of duty-free whisky, ran aground off the coast of the Hebridean island of Eriskay in 1941. It was en route to join an Atlantic convoy heading for the West Indies and then up to Canada where it is thought that its precious cargo was to be sold. The true story of 'The Polly' has its own place in Scotland’s social history and Antonia Swinson has put the story in an entirely new context for a self-confident devolved Scotland.

Says MacDougall: "Swinson’s account of what exactly happened is a masterly piece of detective work and is as fresh today as when first written. The story itself has lost none of its ability to fascinate, fueled by a combination of alcohol and D notices."

One mystery Arthur Swinson couldn't’t answer was, why was there so much cash on The Politician, and why was it hidden amongst the whisky? We now know there was almost £90 million pounds (in today’s money) in currency on board. And even today there is speculation as to the intended purpose for this money.

From the Inside Flap

On the night of 4 February 1941, the SS Politician founders off the coast of South Uist. The salvage - nearly a quarter of a million bottles of duty-free whisky and hard currency worth, today, ninety million pounds.

And to islanders across the Hebrides, it’s theirs for the taking, hiding, drinking or selling.

This is the true story behind Sir Compton Mackenzie’s Whisky Galore. Arthur Swinson’s careful research casts an honest light on the events leading up to - and following - this tremendous bounty. Awash with contraband, the communities nearby faced unexpected problems: from the government; the police; customs inspectors; and, not least, each other.

"... faced with these extraordinary circumstances, the rash became rasher, the drunken more drunken, the avaricious more avaricious, the convivial more convivial, the generous more generous, the treacherous more treacherous, the selfish more selfish and the commercial more commercial"

  • "Vastly Entertaining" - THE LONDON EVENING STANDARD
  • "The greatest party in the history of the Hebrides" - THE SCOTSMAN
  • "An absorbing tale" - SIR COMPTON MACKENZIE

About the Author

Arthur Swinson (1916–1970) was an extraordinarily prolific writer with over 30 books to his credit - many on military history, including the acknowledged classic Kohima - plus over 300 radio and TV and theatre plays and documentaries, including many of the vintage early series of Dr Finlay’s Casebook. He was a splendidly thick-skinned investigative writer, with a wonderfully witty sense of humour.

Reviews - Scotch on the Rocks (2005)

Sunday, 21 April, 2019
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