In 1786, Kilbagie and Kennetpans distilleries were collectively producing most of the whisky in the country and were the first commercial outfit in its production. The duty had been doubled what it had been but was 13.57 pence higher in England, giving the Scots the advantage in the London markets. Surplus of fifteen gallons was generally seized. In 1784, that all changed when Scotland and England began paying the same amount of duty. The English believed it would equal things out but instead it increased the trade of Scottish spirits. The 1786 Act increased the tax on Scottish stills further in order to give English distillers a chance.

The following year Stein bought a threshing machine, the first in Scotland, but with the imposition of the Act where distillers in Scotland had to give one year’s notice for whisky to be exported to England, production ceased.

The Steins bought the distillery back in 1793 though John Taylor and distilling began once more. By this time, the machinery was in poor condition and some of the buildings were subsiding.

Robert Burns spoke of ‘dear Kilbagie’ At the time whisky retailed at a penny a gill. He penned ‘The Jolly Beggars’ in 1785 who enjoyed a dram which was inspired by a night at Mauchline at Poosie Nancy’s tavern with a friend. Here people could get ‘blind fou’ for fourpence. It was cheap as it was made in vast quantities quickly in shallow stills and was well-known for its rawness. Burns called it ‘a most rascally liquor’ and it is thought he visited the distillery in 1787 when staying nearby.

By 1841 Kilbagie had extended to seven acres with further construction on site and the high wall extended to enclose the distillery. Around 850 acres of surrounding land was cultivated for use in the business.

George Dunlop & Co bought the site and installed a Coffey still in August 1845. Twenty-one years earlier Robert Stein had invented the continuous still which had revolutionised whisky distilling. The wash was fed through a series of connecting pots and once vaporised, it was fed into a cylinder. It was much more fuel efficient than using pot stills. His was also the first commercial still to be installed in distilleries, such as Glenochil at Menstrie.

In 1852 the distillery was repossessed and closed.

In March 1856, one of the large vats stored at the site burst its bonds and flowed down the Kincardine road. Word soon got round, and several people were more than happy to help clear it up.