2251: This site is the largest collection of fun facts globally. This link will take you to the first 2250 Fun Facts. That URL is https://bit.ly/3rN7Z7w
Squabbling (1890-1908) between the malt whiskey distillers in Scotland’s
Highlands and column still producers and blenders in the Scottish Lowlands
about which type of whiskey, malt or grain, was more authentic led to the
formation of a Royal Commission in 1908. The Commission’s objective was to examine
Scotland’s whiskies and to render a clear, unbiased, and binding decision on
what precisely constituted “Scotch whiskey.” The formulation of such a
definition held huge implications for both sides.
Glenfiddich was the first distillery to use cartons for their bottles
Whisky bottles must be stored upright, since the cork doesn't close as tightly as a wine cork. Whisky corks are designed for multiple uses, whereas wine corks are disposable.
Bottles with screw-tops must be retightened by hand regularly, since they always loosen on their own, which leads to increased evaporation.
Opened whisky has a shelf life of between six months and two years.
Avoid using a decanter. Not many high-quality decanters remain truly tight over a prolonged period of time. The decanter must have a plastic seal or a ground glass joint.
The Royal Commission, headed by one Lord James of Hereford, interviewed 116 witnesses over 17 months.
The primary single malt in James Munro's King of Kings is the Dalwhinnie 15.
With the signing of the Treaty of Perpetual Peace between England and Scotland, King James IV lifted the ban on golf emplaced by James II in 1457. He made the first recorded purchase of golf equipment, a set of golf clubs from a bow-maker in Perth, and is the first Royal golfer on record.
Scotland’s malt distillers argued that the light spirits mass-produced in column stills were not genuine whiskey “except when made in Scotland and blended or mixed with 50% of Scotch malt whisky.” Lowland column still producers and merchants who employed master blenders, on the other hand, countered the malt whiskey distillers’ assertions by claiming that grain whiskey had become so widely accepted by the drinking public, in particular when combined with malt whiskey, that it deserved to be recognised as “real whiskey” as much as spirits made from malted barley in pot stills.
The power achieved by the Lowland distillers was epitomised by the Distillers Company Ltd. or DCL, a massive amalgamation of about a dozen grain whisky producers that since 1877 had become the most influential entity in the trade.
The Commission, in their 27-page report, sided largely with the Lowland/DCL grain whiskey producers and blenders.
Their general conclusion was that ‘whiskey’ is a spirit obtained by distillation from a mash of cereal grains saccharified by the diastase of malt; the ‘Scotch whiskey’ is whiskey, as above defined, distilled in Scotland.
Until blended Scotch whisky took the world by storm in the later years of the 19th century, Irish whiskey was a far more popular drink than single malt Scotch, both at home and abroad.
It was perceived as being smoother and more consistent than its Scottish counterpart, partly due to the large size of Irish pot stills compared to those used in Scotland.
Mark Twain: “Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.”
“Give an Irishman lager for a month, and he’s a dead man. An Irishman is lined with copper, and the beer corrodes it. But whiskey polishes the copper and is the saving of him.”
Both Glencadam and Auchentoshan distilleries are located opposite a cemetery.
Glendronach Distillery had a traditional rake and plough mash tun, wooden washbacks and four stills which were coal-fired until 2005, the last in Scotland to be heated in this way. Today there is just a quiet susurration of steam in the stillhouse, but the oddly shaped wash still and the plain sides of the spirit still cut back on reflux, helping to build weight in the spirit.
Big, bold and most commonly Sherried, Glendronach is an old-style whisky which echoes the substantial Victorian buildings in which it is made.
GlenAllachie’s whisky was predominantly used by past owner Chivas Brothers for blending, but under new ownership is emerging as a single malt.
Peated runs now account for 20% of production, although peated GlenAllachie won't appear on shelves for a number of years yet.
One of the results of the US-fuelled 1960s whisky boom, GlenAllachie was built in 1967 by Scottish & Newcastle Breweries’ distilling subsidiary, Mackinlays.
It is notable for being one of the distilleries designed by William Delmé-Evans who was also behind Macduff, Tullibardine and Jura.
In 1985, Mackinlays became part of own-label specialist Invergordon Distillers which flipped Glenallachie to Campbell Distillers/Pernod Ricard four years later, during most of which it had been mothballed.
Raymond Chandler: “There is no bad whiskey. There are only some whiskeys that aren’t as good as others.”
Johnny Carson: “Happiness is having a rare steak, a bottle of whisky, and a dog to eat the rare steak.”
Joel Rosenberg: “I’m a simple man. All I want is enough sleep for two normal men, enough whiskey for three, and enough women for four.”
Abraham Lincoln: “Tell me what brand of whiskey that Grant drinks. I would like to send a barrel of it to my other generals.”
Errol Flynn: “I like my whisky old and my women young.”
Compton MacKenzie: “Love makes the world go round? Not at all. Whisky makes it go around twice as fast.”
Nguyen Cao Ky: “Americans are big boys. You can talk them into almost anything. Just sit with them for half an hour over a bottle of whisky and be a nice guy.”
Ava Gardner:" I wish to live to 150 years old, but the day I die, I wish it to be with a cigarette in one hand and a glass of whisky in the other.”
W.C. Fields: “Always carry a flagon of whisky in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake.”
“Drown in a cold vat of whisky? Death, where is thy sting?”
Noah “Soggy” Sweat: Sweat gave his famous “If-by-whiskey” speech to the Mississippi legislature in 1953, “I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about whiskey. All right, here is how I feel about whiskey.
If when you say whiskey you mean the devil’s brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.
But; If when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer; if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman’s step on a frosty, crispy morning; if you mean the drink which enables a man to magnify his joy, and his happiness, and to forget, if only for a little while, life’s great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it."
The Ileach is a young and peaty single malt from an unnamed Islay distillery, available in 40% abv and cask strength (58% abv) expressions.
Bottled by Highlands & Islands Whisky Co. Ltd, ‘the man from Islay’ is extremely popular in Sweden, where it’s the second best-selling single malt. .
Brian Crook established bottling company Vintage Malt Whisky Co. Ltd in 1992 upon leaving Morrison Bowmore Distillers, launching the business with new brands such as Finlaggan and Glenalmond.
The Ileach wasn’t launched until 1997, when Crook created Highlands & Islands Whisky Co. Ltd as a sister company. The single malt’s cask strength expression was introduced three years later, and the brand given a redesign in 2013.It will celebrate its first centenary next year.
The Scotch Whisky Industry Record reported the total amount of recorded spirits as measured in litres of alcohol made in Scotland during the 1820s:
· 1820: 8,506,745 litres ( 1,869,620 Imperial gallons)
· 1823: 8,001,721 litres ( 1,758,620 Imperial gallons)
· 1824: 15,332,228 litres ( 3,369,720 Imperial gallons)
· 1825: 21,343,374 litres ( 4,690,850 Imperial gallons)
· 1828: 26,253,737 litres ( 5,770,050 Imperial gallons)
This output in 1828 was less than a third of Ireland-produced whisky.
Distilling totals crossed the 30 million litres (6,593,400) mark only in 1850.
The high output post 1824 caused a glut in the market and many distilleries were forced to shut down.
Scotsmen started to drink the once expensive rum, imported from Ireland.
George Smith was clandestinely bailed out by the Duke of Gordon in 1828 at the point of closing shop forever, with a loan of £ 500. Had he notd one so, the history of Scotch would be totally different. From here on, The Glenlivet grew from strength to strength.
A common ditty from those days:
Glenlivet it has castles three
Drumin, Blairfeldy and e'Deskie,
And also one distillery
More famous than the castles three
The Glenlivet was distilled at Drumin, Minmore and Cairngorm-Delnabo. A fire put Drumin out of commission in 1858. The distillery was rebuilt at Minmore with the equipment from the sister distilleries and modernised to become the sole The Glenlivet Distillery.
A short-lived Lowland lost distillery, the East Monkland distillery at Airdrie, Lanarkshire, distilled for five years under two licensees.
East Nevay was one of several short-lived Highland distilleries that appeared at the start of the 19th century. It was situated on a farm at Balkeerie, near Newtyle in Angus, between 1825-26. East Nevay sat in the Vale of Strathmore close to the Balkeerie Burn and a feeder stream. The farm still exists today.
Ferintosh was a 19th-century malt distillery near Dingwall, known as Ben Wyvis until 1893.
Ferintosh was a giant for its time, spread across three acres of land and with an annual output of 725,000 litres of spirit from its two large stills. It even had its own rail sidings.
With no water source nearby, its founder D.G. Ross built a 3.5-mile pipeline to Loch Ussie, the water of which was apparently lauded by revered chemist Dr Stevenson Macadam.
The distillery was built with two very large copper pot stills, both of which ran into shell and tube condensers.
Gallowhill was a here-and-gone Lowland Paisley distillery, open from 1798 to 1799.
It was run by a partnership of James MacFarlane and Elizabeth Harvie, very probably related to the Harvies who operated Dundashill and Yoker distilleries in Glasgow. The distillery made way for Glasgow Airport.
However, 220 years ago the area would have been very largely rural. Current maps show no stream or other water source nearby, but back then a burn, now long culverted and vanished, probably flowed from Gallowhill down to the River White Cart.
Imperial Distillery's history is littered with periods of closure, until it was finally demolished to make way for the giant Dalmunach.
Kelso Distillery was a Lowland Single Malt distillery at Kelso in Roxburghshire that distilled from 1825-47. It is not possible to locate the distillery exactly, with one source placing it at Rosebank without any proof. Some distance away, opposite an island called Kelso Anna, there is a pend with steps down towards Chalkheugh Terrace and seems the more likely location. Information on the distillery equipment and whisky is nil.
Kelso distillery was opened and licensed to John Mason in 1825. In 1830 it became a partnership of Mason & Nichol, which lasted until 1833 when John Mason became a sole trader again. Kelso continued under him until 1837 when he was sequestrated.
Oban’s still house, like that of Royal Lochnagar's, points to it being a heavy, sulphury site. But Oban’s make is light rather than heavy. The stills are small and onion-shaped and condensation takes place in worm tubs.
The distillery does not run every day. In fact, Oban produces significantly less than it could. The reason for this is to retain its character.
The light new make means a lot of copper contact is needed – tricky in a small still/worm tub site.
The solution – as with Royal Lochnagar – is to run the worms hot, which extends the amount of copper available, and also to open the doors of the stills after distillation to allow oxygen to rejuvenate the copper.
Harvey's Special blended Scotch whisky is a venerable old Glaswegian blend with a distinctive ‘thin red line’ down the label. John & Robert Harvey was an old, if not the oldest, whisky business in Glasgow, and dated back to 1770.
Not to be confused with Harvey’s Lewes blend of whisky from the Harvey’s brewery in Sussex, this age old brand of Scotch refers to John & Robert Harvey Ltd of Glasgow who also owned the city’s Dundashill distillery.
Harvey’s Special blended Scotch whisky originally came in a dark bottle with an oval label that sometimes carried the words: ‘An English market blend’. This evolved into a plain white label with a thin red line leading to the image of a red wax seal.
Like many in the industry the firm suffered badly in the wake of the Pattison crash that began in December 1898, and approached DCL with a view to a merger.
In 1902, attracted by Harvey’s blending and exporting potential, the company – along with its closed Dundashill distillery – were acquired. Harvey’s became a fully owned subsidiary, although Dundashill was permanently closed in view of the DCL’s concerns around over-production at that time.
In the early 1980s John & Robert Harvey was still listed as licensee of Aultmore distillery near Keith, and with a Glasgow HQ which it shared with Bulloch Lade and John Begg, among others.
Harvey’s Special continued to be produced well into the mid-20th century.
Haig, the flagship blend of John Haig & Co. was not just Britain’s most popular whisky, it was the first spirit to smash the million case barrier.
Haig Gold Label was the mother brand of John Haig & Co. alongside its deluxe Dimple expression, and was a top-selling blend for much of the 20th century. It was especially popular in Britain where it became the first spirits brand to sell a million cases.
By the millennium its UK sales, together with Dimple Haig, had crashed to just 750 cases.
The recipe has included Lowland malts like Glenkinchie and a heavy reliance on Cameronbridge grain.
Haig Gold Label dates back to the twilight years of the 19th century, and before long the packaging had settled on a dumpy, dark brown bottle with a plain white label and a string of medals at the bottom.
‘D’ye ken John Haig?’ asked the early adverts, and the slogan was emblazoned on the mainsail of a yacht that would sail up and down the south coast of England to stoke up demand.
This gave way to the long-running ‘Don’t be vague, ask for Haig’ slogan.
By 1939 Haig was Britain’s best-selling Scotch.
In 1971 it broke the million-case barrier.
Rathohall, also known as Ratho, was a Midlothian distillery established near Edinburgh in the 1820s.
Coordinates place the early distillery at Kirkton Farm, which still appears on modern maps, a short distance from the old Union canal.
A small burn in the vicinity would likely have supplied Rathohall with water.
Underwood was a Falkirk distillery that operated sporadically between 1780 and 1826. The distillery was located beside a lock on the Forth and Clyde Canal, south of a meander in the Bonny Water.
It stood west of what is now the M80 Glasgow-Stirling motorway, quite near the site of the noted but also long gone Bankier distillery.
Kilkerran is the single malt whisky brand produced at Campbeltown’s Glengyle distillery.
Kilkerran single malt was born from the rebirth of Glengyle distillery in 2004.
The Campbeltown distillery, which had closed in 1925, was reopened after the turn of the century by J&A Mitchell.
However, the Glengyle brand name had been previously sold to Bloch Bros, leaving the distillery’s new owners to consider an alternative name for its single malt. Kilkerran – Cille Chiarain in Gaelic – is the original name of Campbeltown.
Lightly peated and non-chill-filtered, the 12-year-old is matured 70% in ex-Bourbon casks and 30% in ex-Sherry casks. The result is a far cry from the traditional heavy malt distilled at Glengyle during the Victorian era.
The annual ‘Work-in-Progress’ releases were matured either in ex-Bourbon or ex-Sherry and were released in quantities of between nine and 18,000 bottles.
Passport is a Speyside-influenced blended Scotch whose key markets are Brazil, Angola, Mexico, India, Russia and Eastern Europe.
Passport’s net sales grew by 20% to reach a record 1.7m cases in the year ending in June 2015.
The blend recipe for Passport was developed by Chivas Brothers’ blender Jimmy Lang during the 1960s. It was a classical Chivas blend in that it embraced the company’s Speyside single malts, including Strathisla and Glen Keith.
Indeed, Glen Keith was long promoted as the ‘Home of Passport’, with a banner replicating the bottle label displayed in the distillery entrance.
During the 1970s malt from the newly-built Allt-a-Bhainne and Braes of Glenlivet (now Braeval) distilleries began to appear in the Passport recipe.
In July 2017, it was announced that Chivas Brothers had agreed to sell GlenAllachie to The GlenAllachie Distillers Company, operated by former BenRiach MD Billy Walker.
A capital ‘A’ was added to the distillery name, in keeping with the changes Walker made to BenRiach and GlenDronach under his stewardship.
The new owners relaunched GlenAllachie as a distillery known for its ‘big’, fruity malt whisky. GlenAllachie’s first core range of single malts was launched in June 2018.
Copper Dog is a Scotch whisky that sums up all that is good about Speyside.
Copper Dog is basically a Glenallachie product, a combination of eight single malts.
It is produced in association with the pub that shares its name, located in the historic Craigellachie Hotel in Speyside. The name of both the whisky and the pub refer to a makeshift device once used by distillery workers to illicitly sample and carry whisky from maturing casks.
For the Scottish and (Irish )distillers of the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries, information about the intricacies of distillation was limited in both scope and availability; and it was passed on solely by word of mouth from father to son, uncle to nephew.
The majority of Scotland’s early uisge beathas were, like those of Ireland, eyepopping moonshine whiskies notorious for their questionable safety records and ferocious personalities. Alcohol poisoning was common and sometimes resulted in a painful death.
The first book translated into English about distillation, Das Buch zu Destilliern (The vertuose boke of Distyllacyon) by Hieronymous Braunschweig, was printed in Europe in 1519 but didn’t appear in Britain until 1527.
Michael Brander, author of The Original Scotch, observes “According to this book aqua vitae was regarded as purely medicinal and distillation was defined as: ‘Distylling is none other thynge, but onely a puryfyeng of the grosse from the subtyll and the subtyll from the grosse’.”
In 1559, Peter Morwyng published a tome titled Treasure of Evonymous, that described distillation in detail and lauded uisge beatha as bestowing a stunning inventory of benefits to imbibers. “It sharpeneth the wit, it restoreth memori. It maketh men merry and preserveth youth. . . . It expelleth poison. The smell thereof burnt, killeth flies and cold creeping beasts. . . . It is most wholesome for the stomake, the harte and the liver . . . it taketh away sadness...”
Production was minute in comparison to modern times; the era’s pot stills ranged in size from a scant four to five gallons only up to, if rarely, fifty gallons.
Farmer-distillers in the early period of distillation selected an ancient strain of barley that had four rows of spikelets, called bere, as their grain of choice. An alternative variety was two-row barley, which made smoother ales and whiskies according to some distillers, but bere proved to be first among equals.
Bere provided reliably large crop yields in poor soils and rainy climates, and its early ripening tendency accommodated farmers.
George Smith’s father, Andrew Smith was a respected tenant farmer, or “tacksman” in the vernacular of the time and place, who leased his land from the Duke of Gordon. The lease agreements were referred to as “tacks,” hence the moniker conveyed on the leaseholder.
As a major landowner in the pastoral district of Banffshire, the Duke’s extensive land holdings in the eighteenth century included expansive tracts in the communities of Morinsh, Glenlivet, Strathavon, and Glenrinnes.
The Duke was the strongest proponent in the corridors of power in London of legalising distillation.
The defining topographical features of the Glenlivet area of Banffshire both in the 1790s and today are its three networking rivers, the fast-flowing Spey, the Avon, and the Livet.
The River Livet begins at the 1,100-foot high confluence of a couple of upland streams, the Suie and the Kymah Burns, then snakes for roughly nine miles through picturesque Glenlivet. Running to the northwest, the River Livet spills into the River Avon southwest of the town of Craggan. Finally, the River Avon connects with the River Spey, Scotland’s most famous river, just west of the village of Ballindalloch.
Prior to leasing the “Town and Lands of Upper Drumin with House, Gardens and Pertinents” in Glenlivet from the Duke of Gordon, Andrew and his wife Margaret leased a smaller property called Croftmartick, where they started their family.
Realising in 1783 as their dependents multiplied that they would require more living space, Andrew applied with a friend James Grant of Tamnvoulin for a larger property of the Duke’s at Upper Drumin.
A turbulent era of whisky smuggling and illicit distilling in Scotland began roughly 150 years before George Smith’s birth at Upper Drumin and lasted nearly two centuries. The period from 1760 to 1840, in particular, proved to be the apex of illegal distilling activity.
The seed of the problem was planted in the mid-seventeenth century when the Scottish Parliament passed the Internal Act of Excyse on January 31, 1644. That legislation put Scotland’s farmer-distillers on official notice that the distilling of whisky was no longer a free, uncontrolled exercise. The ActofExcyse, “. . . imposed a duty of 2s. 8d. on ‘everie pynt of aquavytie or strong watteris sold within the country.’”
In the 1600s, a “pynt” equaled roughly one third of a gallon, approx 1.52 Litres.
The overwhelming majority of seventeenth-century whisky distillers were ordinary farmers and subtenants who led hand-to-mouth existences within the trap of an archaic, yet effective feudal system.
For the most part, the farmer-distillers were simply dealing with excess volumes of bere, Scotland’s ubiquitous and vigorous four-row barley. Not only did distillation wisely utilise harvest surpluses of barley, it afforded the farmer-distillers a useful mode of currency or trade as well as a salable product that was growing in popularity. The imposition of a governmentally generated duty, then, came as a serious blow to their otherwise sturdy sensibilities. The Act of Excyse was an insult.
The Scots, a practical, modest, largely rural (well over 90 percent) and down-to-earth people, had since the first years of distillation considered whisky making to be an inalienable entitlement and not susceptible to taxation or official directive of any sort.
Now, suddenly, their Parliament, a faceless body of aristocrats, lords, and landowners ensconced in faraway Edinburgh, had the temerity to tax whisky at the ambitious rate of over 6 shillings for each gallon produced.
Calculations on Scotland’s population have suggested that between 1650 and 1750 the total number of Scots hovered around 1,200,000 to 1,300,000. This remarkably level sum remained flat primarily because of famines, ineffective health care, and epidemics.
From 1707 to 1781, no less than 19 separate pieces of Parliamentary legislation—dated 1710, 1713, 1718, 1725, 1727, 1729, 1736, 1743, 1746, 1751, 1757, 1759, 1761, 1762, 1772, 1774, 1779, 1780, and 1781—affected, among other issues, the selling or use of barley malt, the prime base material for whisky; the legal minimum size of pot stills; and excise duties on wash or spirits.
Despite the gaugers and the battery of excise laws, distilling hit unprecedented heights in the 1740s and 1750s. Consumption of illicit whisky made totally from malted barley and a harsh concoction dubbed “malt spirit,” a lesser whisky-like spirit composed of malted barley and unmalted grain, competed with twopenny ale as the common daily libation.
A few months before the beginning of WWI, exports of Scotch whisky topped 10 million gallons. By the tail end of the fighting in 1918, exports of whisky had plummeted to less than a third of that total.
During USA’s disastrous and ill-conceived Prohibition, Chivas Brothers' owners Alexander Smith and Charles Stewart Howard focussed their attention on other key overseas markets. Canada, Mexico, the Far East, and the rebuilding European continent became prime target regions of further development for all Chivas Brothers Scotch whiskies.
Chivas Brothers Alexander and Charles had earned five Royal Warrants since Edward & Chivas in 1843. They were given 17 such warrants extending up to 1975.
In 1975, Chivas Brothers was instructed to remove the Royal Warrant from Chivas Regal by that year’s end. In all probability, the Royal Family decided to reduce their associations with firms that pedalled alcoholic beverages as a subtle example of their shared concern over growing consumption of alcohol, which had concrete proof of serious health concerns if imbibed generously over a period of time.
Geprge Smith's The Glenlivet was wrongly called The Drumin Glenlivet, The Minmore Glenlivet and The Drumin Glenlivat. The correct name was and remains The Glenlivet
The only whisky allowed to call itself "The Glenlivet" is historically the most famous Speyside malt.
The appelation "The Glenlivet" is restricted even further in that it appears on only the "official" bottlings from the owning company of the distillery, Seagram. These are branded as The Glenlivet with the legend "Distilled by George & J.G. Smith" in small type at the bottom of the label, referring to the company set up by a father and son that originally founded the distillery.
George Smith offered his The Glenlivet at two different strengths, 64% and 72% ABV.
Independent bottlers Gordon and MacPhail have made something of a speciality of older and vintage-dated examples, in a variety of alcoholic strengths, from the same distillery and these are identified as George & J.G. Smith's Glenlivet Whisky.
The Glen of the Livet is also the home of two other malt distilleries, the unconnected Tamnavulin and Braes of Glenlivet, which are owned by Seagram.
In the adjoining Avon valley the Tomintoul distillery is also generally regarded as belonging ot the Livet district . It is, indeed in the parish of Glenlivet. All of these distilleries use the sub-title Glenlivet on their labels as an appellation of district.
So do about a dozen from other parts of Speyside. This practice, now in decline, dates from the glen's pioneering position in commercial whisky production. Merchants in the cities wanted whisky "from Glenlivet" because that was the first specific producing district that they knew by name.
Between the mountain Ben Rinnes and the river Spey, at the hamlet of Carron, not far from Aberlour the Dailuaine ("Dal-oo-ayn") distillery produces a robust, tasty, after-dinner malt. The distillery was founded in 1852 and has been rebuilt several times, most recently in 1960.
It is one of several distilleries along the Spey valley that once had their own railway halts, for workers and visitors - and as a means of shipping in barley or malt and despatching whisky.
Although the railway line has now been removed the route has been preserved for walkers as the "Speyside Way" from Tomintoul to the sea.
Dailuaine had its own steam locomotive, which is now preserved on the Strathspey Railway at Aviemore.
Aultmore distillery, 4 Km/2.5 miles north of Keith, close to both the Isla and the Spey, was built in 1896 by Alexander Edward of Forres (owner of Benrinnes) who remained sole owner till 1899. It was sold to John Dewar and Co in 1923 and reconstructed in 1971.
The name means 'Big Burn' and derives from a nearby stream though the distillery derives its water from the peat-rich water of the Foggie Moss.
Originally used as a supplier of malt whiskies for blending, it has now brought out several single malts that are extremely complex and of very high quality.
Speyburn is one of the most beautifully situated distilleries in Scotland. This handsome Victorian distillery, set in a deep, sweeping valley makes a spectacular sight on the road between Rothes and Elgin.
It was built in 1897 and despite modernisations over the years has not undergone dramatic change. Its whisky is not easy to find but a first official bottling, introduced in 1991, makes it a little more accessible.
The Speyburn 10 YO is an extremely pleasing dram, with clear floral and fruity notes.
In the 19th century, almost every distillery in what is now known as Speyside appended the name Glenlivet to their own. Ironically, until 1965 there was only one distillery in the glen of the River Livet - The Glenlivet. Tamnavulin came up as the second, built in Ballindaloch.
It was built by Invergordon Distillers (whose portfolio also included a grain distillery, Bruichladdich, Tullibardine and Jura).
It was mothballed in 1995, only reopening in 2007 when Whyte & Mackay was purchased by Indian giant United Spirits. Its function as a supplier of fillings however hasn’t altered. Whyte & Mackay was sold to Philippine-based Emperador in 2014.
Miltonduff, with a very fresh, floral new make character is a charming, light single malt, perfect for adding top notes to the restrained and elegant Ballantine’s blend. Its palate has a succulent texture.
Miltonduff was, briefly, part of Allied Distiller’s Caledonian Malts range (alongside Laphroaig, Tormore, Scapa and Glendronach) but other than a limited edition 18-year-old cask strength bottling, no official releases have taken place under Chivas Brothers' ownership.
In July 2017 Miltonduff was released as a 15-year-old single malt (alongside expressions from Glentauchers and Glenburgie) under the Ballantine’s brand.
Moonshining was commonplace in the surroundings of Pluscarden Abbey in the smuggling era of the late 18th and early 19th century. Whether any monastic distillation ever took place is unknown – the original monastery fell into ruin in the early 17th century, but was restored in 1948 and is now the only medieval monastery still inhabited by monks.
Distillation certainly took place at Milton Farm where the abbey’s old meal mill once stood.
Miltonduff (the suffix comes from Duff family which owned the estate) went legal in 1824 under Andrew Peary and Robert Bain, and by the end of the century was one of the largest producers in Scotland, making in excess of one million litres a year and using triple distillation (an unusual technique for Highland/Speyside distilleries).
It was bought in 1866 by William Stuart; Thomas Yool became a shareholder in 1895 and, in 1936, it was bought by Canadian distiller Hiram Walker which was beginning its Scottish expansion (Ballantine’s, Dumbarton).
In 1964, a pair of ‘Lomond’ stills was installed, producing a malt named Mosstowie. The stills operated until 1981. Significant expansion in 1974 saw capacity increased to more than 5m litres per annum with three pairs of stills operating. In 2005 it became part of Chivas Brothers.
The name Tamnavulin is the Gaelic translation of ‘mill on the hill’, named in part after the historic former carding mill which sits on the site of the distillery. Local farmers would bring their sheep fleeces here in the summer months to be made into wool.
The Tamnavulin Sherry Cask Edition ABV 40% is matured in American Oak Barrels and enhanced by a finesse in three different Sherry casks.
The Tempranillo Cask Edition ABV 40% is matured in American oak barrels, and finessed by Tempranillo red wine casks to complement its sweet, mellow flavour.
Though Tamnavulin lies on the banks of the Corrie stream, Tempranillo draws its water from underground springs in the Easterton hills formed by snowmelt from the surrounding Cairngorm mountains. This water is naturally filtered through ancient limestone rock before reaching the distillery, resulting in some of the purest spring water to be found in Scotland.
Tamnavulin’s cask collection goes back to the 1960s when the distillery was first built.
Tamnavulin’s Vintage Collection is a set of rare, aged Speyside whiskies each with a rich, distinctive character and a true reflection of their history. The 1970,73,79 and 2000 editions are all marketed exclusively in Taiwan.
Before it was bottled, the Tempranillo Cask Edition single malt was treated to a finish in casks which previously held Tempranillo red wine, imparting a brilliant colour as well as berry-forward flavour profile.
At various competitions this whisky has been awarded twice: the International Wine & Spirit Competition awarded Silver and the International Wine & Spirit Competition awarded Bronze.
The historic Whyte & Mackay blend is comprised of 41 different malt and grain whiskies from the Highlands and Speyside. The component whiskies are put through Whyte & Mackay’s ‘triple maturation’ process, which sees them aged separately before being married together for a time in ex-Sherry casks prior to bottling.
The brand’s owner picked up its first distillery in Dalmore in 1960, and went on to add Fettercairn, Tamnavulin, Jura malt distilleries and the Invergordon grain distillery to its portfolio. Whiskies from each are thought to have played a part in the Whyte & Mackay blend since.
During the 1980s Whyte & Mackay commissioned a Wade ceramic jug in the shape of a pot still, finished with 22 carat gold and filled with a litre of Whyte & Mackay De Luxe 12 Year Old.
In 1981 a Royal Wedding decanter of Whyte & Mackay De Luxe 12 Year Old was bottled to celebrate the wedding of Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles.
Although Whyte & Mackay Distillers was founded in Glasgow in 1882, the company can trace its history back to 1844, when the firm of Allan and Poynter – which James Whyte managed – was founded.
Soon after establishing their own company, James Whyte and Charles Mackay quickly launched their own proprietary blend, Whyte & Mackay Special.
By 1982 Whyte & Mackay was the 7th largest Scotch brand in its home market with a 5% share, and is still the most popular Scotch blend in Glasgow and the West of Scotland.
The company was the first to use a bottle cap that also served as a handy measure, and in 1963 introduced the 40 fl oz bottle to the on-trade, a move which was quickly adopted by the rest of the industry.
Whyte & Mackay Master Blender is Richard Paterson, whose name is now synonymous with the brand.
In 1960, W&M merged with Mackenzie Bros of Dalmore.
In ’63, W&M acquired Jarvis Halliday and Co. of Aylesbury.
The Glenlivet Distillers conglomeration of the ‘70s was dedicated to producing high quality malt whiskies for sale in blends, as well as single malts. At the time of its formation, The Glenlivet Distillers Ltd commanded nowhere near the production capacity of the industry’s leading distillers, companies like the DCL, Hiram Walker and William Grant & Sons. What it did have was a portfolio of five distilleries with world-renowned reputations for producing high quality whiskies.
The firm was formed in 1970 through the merger of The Glenlivet and Glen Grant Distilleries Ltd, Longmorn-Glenlivet and Edinburgh blender Hill, Thomson & Co, and amalgamated the Glenlivet, Glen Grant, Caperdonich, Longmorn and BenRiach distilleries under one umbrella.
Almost immediately after its formation the group embarked on a heavy investment spree in its operations, including the Newbridge bottling and blending plant it acquired through Hill, Thomson & Co. After just three years it had increased its production capacity by 58%.
In 1977 the company was acquired by Seagram Distillers, which was itself sold onto French drinks group Pernod Ricard in 2001.
The Glenlivet Distillers Ltd was eventually disbanded, with the Glenlivet and Longmorn distilleries joining Pernod’s Chivas Brothers arm, BenRiach sold to former Burn Stewart director Billy Walker and Caperdonich closed.
The company was sold off to Italy’s Gruppo Campari along with its last remaining operation – Glen Grant distillery – in 2006, and renamed Glen Grant Whisky Co. Ltd. It was eventually dissolved in 2011.
Situated high above the river Livet with a view out towards Cardhu and the slopes of Ben Rinnes, The Glenlivet has been operational on this site since 1859.
After a recent expansion and refurb it is one of the most modern distilleries in Speyside with a vast Brigg’s mash tun which sends clear wort to wooden washbacks. Distillation, which is slow, takes place in two stillhouses, in seven sets of stills.
George Smith’s greatest achievement wasn’t simply the taking out of a licence, but his decision to make a new style of whisky. By the 1860s, The Glenlivet was noted for producing a spirit with a ‘pineapple’ note, evidence that the floral, estery character seen today has a long history – and one which broke with the heavy, dense, rich styles prevalent at that time.
Oban’s still house, like that of Royal Lochnagar's, points to it being a heavy, sulphury site. The stills are small and onion-shaped and condensing takes place in worm tubs.
They do not run every day. In fact, Oban produces significantly less than it could. The reason for this is to retain its character. Oban’s make is light rather than heavy, and that means a lot of copper contact is needed – tricky in a small still/worm tub site. The solution – as with Royal Lochnagar – is to run the worms hot which extends the amount of copper available, and also to open the doors of the stills after distillation to allow oxygen to rejuvenate the copper.
The result is a clean, intensely fruity spirit which after ageing in refill casks also has a tingling mineral spiciness which some pick up as saltiness.
Some liquor bottles have dents at the bottom. The technical term for the dent in the bottom of a bottle is a ‘punt’. Some bottles, like champagne bottles, have deep punts in them. Some bottles, those for non-pressurised contents like whisky, still have a punt, but it is shallower.
The primary reason it is there is to strengthen the bottle. Flat slabs of glass are the weakest form of glass. The sides of the bottle are curved into a cylinder, and the neck curves multiple ways. Thus the weak point is the bottom.
If the bottle is to be pressurised, the bottom must be much stronger, to ensure it does not explode off. Thus, a deeper punt, sometimes called a kick.
The secondary reason for the punt is that it is almost impossible to make a bottle perfectly flat on the bottom without grinding it (remember, glass is blown, so it must be slightly pliable when they are blowing the bottom shape, and it’s almost impossible to make it perfectly flat). And even if it is perfectly flat, the table is not likely to be perfectly flat!
Dimpled cheek bottles were designed for the high seas of the days of yore. This lowered the centre of gravity and allowed a large broad and flat base, enhancing stability. Losing a bottle to a drop caused by high seas was considered unlucky.
Certain brands would have a fine netting around the sides for a better grip.
Some brands with dimple cheeked bottles are Grand Macnish Scotch Whisky, Bell’s Extra Special Old Scotch Whisky, Wheaton Bitters, Crown Royal Irish Whisky, Vintage Log Cabin Bottle featuring Benjamin Franklin and Haig’s Dimple.
Dublin pot still distillers were determined to try to ensure that only their product could be claimed as true ‘whisky’ – the spelling (without an ‘e’).
Whiskey is the official state beverage of Alabama.
A 30-year-old cask of Macallan set a new world record in 2019 for the most expensive whisky cask ever sold at auction. It fetched a whopping $572,000.
Early in 2018, the world’s first regulated whisky investment fund was launched. Single Malt Fund allows investors to buy a small part of a bigger collection of rare and limited-edition whiskies.
According to The French Federation of Spirits, whisky accounts for the highest retail sales of any spirit in France at 47.2 per cent. This is compared to Cognac which makes up only 0.7 per cent of sales.
Some 43 per cent of German tourists in Scotland visit a distillery while visiting, making it the second most popular activity for the demographic.
The Jack Daniel’s distillery is located in a ‘dry county’, meaning alcohol sales therein are prohibited. An exception has been made for the distillery.
John Jameson, the founder of Jameson’s Irish whisky was Scottish.
There was a whisky rebellion in Pennsylvania in 1794 due to whisky taxing. The tax was eventually repealed in 1802.
The first Scottish distillery to install a Coffey Still was the Grange Distillery, which fell silent in 1851.
There are over 300,000 varieties of barley but only a few are suitable for malt whisky production.
The year 1994 marked 500 years since the first written reference to Scotch whisky was penned. Many producers released anniversary bottlings.
In Victorian times, some Scottish distilleries allowed workers to stop for a dram each time a bell rang.
The Keeper of the Quaich is awarded to those who make an outstanding contribution to the Scotch whisky industry for at least five years and outstanding Keepers may progress to become Masters of the Quaich.
After Prohibition ended, 69-year-old James B. Beam got his distillery up and running in just 120 days.
Joe Sheridan, a head chef in Foynes, County Limerick claims to have invented and named the Irish Coffee. A group of American passengers disembarked from a Pan Am flying boat on a miserable winter evening in the 1940s, so Sheridan added whiskey to their coffee. When they asked if they were being served Brazilian coffee, Sheridan replied, ‘No, Irish coffee”.
Victorian Illustrator, Tom Browne, drew a picture of a striding man on a menu during lunch with Lord Stevenson, one of Johnnie Walker’s directors. This eventually became the striding man, who has since undergone numerous reworkings to get to the image you see on the bottle today.
The record for most expensive whisky cocktail sold is a refresh of the traditional Manhattan made with a 55-year-old Macallan served at Dubai’s Skyview Bar. Costing £4,632, the posh concoction was stirred with a very special oak stick from a cask of Macallan. It was also served with ice made from the same water used to produce the single malt whisky it contains.
The Royal Brackla Distillery in Nairn, Scotland is situated in the Cawdor Estate, the home of the fictional Thane of Cawdor, Macbeth, in Shakespeare’s play.
The Dublin "Big Four", John Jameson & Son of Bow Street, John Power & Son of John's Lane, George Roe & Co. of Thomas Street, and Willam Jameson & Co. of Marrowbone Lane, had a combined output of 5 Million Gallons per year, compared to an average of below 100,000 gallons at their fellow distilleries in Scotland.
Further famous distilleries included Jones Road and Phoenix Park in Dublin, Daly's in Tullamore - still famous today for its "Tullamore Dew" - Cassidy's in Monasterevan, and John Locke's Distillery in Kilbeggan.
Distilling was considered a birthright by the Irish, and the introduction of tax on the Whiskey (Excise) in the 17th century caused a centuries-long conflict between the "Moonshiners" (illicit Distillers) and the Excisemen who enforced the tax collection. In 1781, private distillation was banned by the UK government, and excisemen were allowed to seize whiskey, whiskey-making equipment, and even horses and vehicles used for transportation.
The most celebrated method of pilfering distillery whisky was a nifty little device known as the ‘copper dog’, a piece of tubing with a penny soldered to one end and a cork in the other. A man’s best friend because it never left its owner’s side.
Workers hid these copper dogs down their trousers and in their belts, pilfering a dram before secretly sharing them around their local pub, comparing notes and hatching plans.
The Copper Dog blended malt whisky contains whisky from no fewer than 8 distilleries, including Knockando, Rose Isle and Inchgower.
It was first blended at Craigellachie Hotel, Speyside, born out of the warm and mischievous atmosphere of the pub therein.
Built in 1893, the hotel pub was a place frequented by local distillery workers and highland travellers who used to share their tales, including those about their copper dogs and smuggling.
In 2014, Piers Adam bought the hotel and inspired by these stories, he named the hotel pub the Copper Dog and instigated the creation of a whisky of the same name.
The first licenses for distilling in a certain region were granted in 1608. By the late 18th century, about 2,000 stills were in operation, 85% of the output of which was considered illegal distillation. Distillation was legalised in 1823, on payment of a fixed tax plus surcharge depending on volume and strength of the distillate.
When Alfred Barnard visited Ireland in 1885 researching for his book "The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom", the number of legal distillers had shrunk to 28. At the time, Irish Whisky was considered the finest in the world. The distilleries, most notably in Dublin, were huge enterprises with annual outputs of up to 2,000,000 gallons (9 Million Litres) of "Pot Still" as the original Irish Whiskey was called.
A chain of unrelated events caused the tragic decline of the great Irish industry: first, the invention of the Patent Still by Aeneas Coffey (an Irishman) was grossly rejected by the proud Irish distillers, but widely adopted by the Lowlands Scots who went on to blend their Whiskies, followed reluctantly by the Highlands Scots; second, the institution of the Irish Free State in the early 20th century caused a fatal trade war with Great Britain, closing down the Irish Distillers' main market; third, WWI (1914-18); and finally the US Prohibition declaration in 1920.
The highly influential Distillers Company Limited (DCL) was a blending-led operation which set out to buy up and either close or reduce production at a notable number of patent still Lowland distilleries, enhancing its already powerful position in controlling grain whisky supply in the process.
A number of leading Highland pot still producers effectively took a stand against DCL, despite the fact that they were now significantly dependent on blenders to buy their ‘make’.
The proportions of malt and grain whisky that might be included in blends was debated, with the pot still interest conceding that a 50/50 mixture would be acceptable to them.
The Boynsmill Estate, nestled in the Valley of Forgue, was established by James Allardice as the home for his GlenDronach distillery in 1826. Allardice discovered the rich depths of sherry cask maturation here, marrying robust Highland spirit to Spanish cask, a tradition carried forward by The GlenDronach to this day.
James Allardice lived most of his life at Boynsmill House (later re-named Glen House) and was often known to share a dram of his ‘Guid GlenDronach’ with friends and neighbours.
The GlenDronach Forgue 10 YO is the distillery’s second exclusive for Global Travel Retail, joining the GlenDronach Boynsmill 16 YO.
Scotland’s first large distillery, Ferintosh, founded in the 1660s and owned by Duncan Forbes of Culloden, produced the nation’s first brand of whisky of the same name.
Though the distillery, located in Ross-shire, was burned to the ground in the Jacobite insurrection of 1689, Forbes rebuilt Ferintosh, which by the 1760s accounted for four major whisky distilleries coexisting on one property. Ferintosh was one of Scotland’s first industrial complexes and proved to be a forerunner of modern whiskies.
On May 1, 1707, one of political history’s great marriages of convenience became reality. The Treaty of Union of the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, also known as the Act of Union, joined the heretofore separate Parliaments of Scotland and England. To the dismay of most Scots, the Seat of Scottish government was relocated to London.
Scotland’s notorious smugglers were first called smuckellors.
Walter Scott’s novels of the day reflected with searing accuracy the civil turmoil and the dark mood of the Scots in the early decades of the eighteenth century. Stories like Scott’s The Heart of Midlothian also afforded readers vivid insights into the extent of smuggling.
In 1781, Scotland produced 264,000 gallons of legal whisky that same year in licensed distilleries like those operated by the Haig and Stein families.
Most bothies, the compact, highly mobile, copper pot stills and accompanying equipment, ranged from 20 to 40 gallons in volume and were the property of cooperative proprietors.
A typical streamside bothy was described as follows: “The ingenuity exercised in the construction of these bothies was wonderful. Getting in beneath the banks where the bothy could be thatched down on the outer edge of the bank with heather so that it could not be distinguished, was a favorite plan, but sometimes they were constructed right under ground on a flat haugh.” (A haugh is a low-lying, unusable flood plain next to a burn, aka stream or river.)
The smugglers believed that the unusual climate of Glenlivet, the altitude of the glen, and the mossy water of the hill streams there, combined to give the whisky its unique character.
As excisemen rarely visited the glen, the locals could take a long time in distilling new spirits, running the whisky ‘lazily’ over a small fire. This was a luxury not allowed to other smugglers, constantly on the look-out for the gaugers. . . Glenlivet whisky, fully matured and with its unique flavour, soon became a great favourite of the Lowland connoisseurs.
King George IV reportedly consumed whisky during his visit in a concoction called the “Atholl-brose,” a thick, sweetish mixture of whisky, honey and ground grain.
A parliamentary committee, led by Lord Wallace, further studied the excise law issues from all sides, based on the Duke of Gordon’s noteworthy and persuasive oratory skills.
Distillation was legalised in 1823, but penalties were elevated considerably, to £200, an extraordinarily stiff sum for the era, for anyone apprehended while in possession of illicit whisky and £100 assessed to anyone owning an unlicensed pot still.
The Excise Act of 1823 significantly reduced duties on whisky (2 shillings 3 pence per gallon), a fee of only £10 to acquire a license, a minimum pot still size of 40 gallons, duty-free warehousing for all whiskies and, with some reservations, the opening of markets in Ireland, England, and all other trading nations.
From 1644 to 1823, over 30 separate and amending pieces of distilling legislation had been drawn up and implemented, first by the Parliament of Scotland prior to 1707 and then, after 1707, by the Parliament of Great Britain.
The Duke of Gordon then experienced serious financial difficulties due in part to the dishonesty of his factor, or estate foreman, William Mitchell, who embezzled £3,000. George Smith was confident that he could make a distillery at Upper Drumin a success and farmers could grow more barley.
One provision in the 1823 Act demanded the stationing of excise officials at all legal distilleries. This provision infuriated the smugglers.
Some accounts cite George Smith as the first duly licensed distiller in the Highlands. This assertion is unsubstantiated and wrong. Licenses for other sites were applied for as early as the late fall of 1823, soon after the Act’s passage. Cardow Distillery in Knockando (today known as Cardhu) preceded George Smith’s The Glenlivet as Speyside’s first distillery to be licensed under the Act.
George Smith began producing fresh spirit sometime in the winter of 1825.
Highland whisky in 1825 was sold unaged and raw, frequently in 10 gallon casks referred to as “ankers.”
When reformed Glenlivet smugglers like Peter McKerron, James McHardy, and James McPherson, were pondering going legitimate, blatant threats were made to their faces.
The smugglers made it clear to McKerron that if he applied for a license they would destroy his distillery operation. McKerron’s distillery at Whitehouse in Aberlour was a brief affair.
James McPherson obtained a license shortly after George Smith. While McPherson was transporting a cache of his legal whisky south in 1826, a band of smugglers assaulted him in Glen Gairn. McPherson shut down his distillery.
Suspicious fires destroyed several upstart legal distilleries throughout the Highlands. The Banks o’ Dee Distillery in Aberdeenshire went up in flames in 1825, the victim of arson. Smugglers razed James McHardy’s distillery at Corgarff Castle in 1826. News of other distillery closures at Croftbain, Braeval, and Stobbie in Glenlivet and Coul and Achfad in Morange echoed throughout Banffshire.
James Chivas was born on December 20, 1810, to Robert (1767–1847) and Christian Chivas (1775–1842) at his parents’ Strathythan farm at Overtown of Dudwick in Ellon Parish. The sixth of thirteen children by Robert and Christian Chivas, James, like his siblings worked on the family farm and attended local Strathythan schools.
The name Chivas was likely derived from the Gaelic phrase for “a narrow place,” Seimhas, pronounced shave-ASZ. This made sense because two famous structures, the older a medieval castle built in the thirteenth or fourteenth century and the younger a fortified edifice called the House of Schivas constructed in middle of the sixteenth century, were strategically situated at narrow points on the banks of the River Ythan.
The Barony of Schivas, located directly north of the city of Aberdeen, was the stronghold of the Schivas/Chivas clan from the thirteenth to the eighteenth century.
Whatever the name’s derivation, the Chivas clan was well established in northeastern Scotland in the medieval era of kings, dukes, barons, feudal armies, and castles. While it was a widely known surname in Aberdeenshire by 1400, Chivas would become a household name on a global basis five and a half centuries later.
In 1903, Andrew Mackenzie, owner of Dalmore distillery, wrote to customers declaring that: ‘Once one gets initiated to a “pure Highland Malt” or “Self” whisky that is the product of one Distillery, it is invariably preferred to the best of Blends, but it requires a little education at first with people who have never taken it before.’
DCL managing director William Ross took to promoting
seven-year-old Cambus Patent Still Scotch Grain Whisky in a national press
campaign during 1906. Provocatively, the advert took pains to point out that
Cambus was ‘…not a Pot Still Whisky’, using the slogan: Not a headache in a
After 37 sittings, the Commission concluded in its report of July 1909 ‘...that “Whiskey” is a spirit obtained by distillation from a wash saccharified by the diastase of malt, that “Scotch Whiskey” is whiskey, as above defined distilled in Scotland.’
Speyside distillery Glenlivet has released The Glenlivet 14 Year Old, a new US-exclusive single malt finished in ex-Cognac casks, as part of the distillery’s efforts to ‘open up to a new generation of whisky drinkers’.
Priced at US$55 per 750ml bottle, Glenlivet 14 Year Old was available from specialist US retailers from July 2021. The distillery plans to donate US$1 from each bottle sold to The Purple Heart Foundation, a charity created to enhance the quality of life of wounded veterans and their families, with a guaranteed minimum donation of US$50,000 and up to a maximum of US$100,000.
The Glenlivet had released a then new NAS whisky it claimed to be the ‘first major single malt finished in Cognac casks’ in May 2018.
The expression, called The Glenlivet Captain’s Reserve, has been named in honour of Captain William (Bill) Smith Grant, the great grandson of The Glenlivet founder George Smith, who has ties with France having served there in WWI.
The Glenlivet launched a fourth edition in its mystery series of whiskies in June 2019, released without any information aside from its ABV.
The Glenlivet Enigma is a single malt Scotch whisky presented in a matte black bottle at 60.6% ABV.
All other information is kept secret; buyers, however, can ‘unlock’ tasting cues by solving a digital crossword puzzle. Completion of the puzzle will also reward buyers with discounted delivery on their next purchase from reservebar.com.
The Glenlivet Enigma is the fourth expression in the Speyside distillery’s mystery series.
The first, Alpha, was revealed in 2013, and followed by Cipher in 2016 and Code in 2018.
‘MYSTERY’ The Glenlivet Code was launched worldwide in March 2018. No cask information or tasting notes were attached
Purchasers can scan a code on the back of the whisky’s opaque packaging using the Shazam app on their smartphone, in order to reveal an interactive tasting experience hosted by a ‘hologram’ of Glenlivet’s master distiller Alan Winchester.
They are then able to select four aromas for the nose, four flavours for the palate and the intensity of each. At the end of the challenge, drinkers will be given a score based on how well their tasting notes match those of Winchester.
In the 1909 report, no compulsory maturation period was stipulated, and no minimum percentage of malt required in a blend was specified. It was a complete victory for the blenders and patent still distillers.
Vat 69 was the flagship blend of William Sanderson & Son Ltd. that was absorbed into DCL, now Diageo.
Vat 69 was created by the Leith-born blender William Sanderson in 1882.
Sales are reputedly over a million cases a year with key markets being Venezuela, Australia and Spain, and it is also bottled locally in India.
The traditional heart of the blend was what was once a smoky Highland malt – Glen Garioch.
The current recipe includes some 40 malts and grains, and the style is light and well-balanced with a vanilla sweetness.
The deluxe, limited edition Vat 69 Reserve was launched in 1980.
According to legend he vatted 100 casks and invited a panel of friends to taste them blind. The 69th cask was unanimously declared to be the best, and the name stuck.
Within five years Sanderson had bought into the Aberdeenshire distillery of Glen Garioch and had helped found Edinburgh’s North British distillery in 1885 to break DCL’s near monopoly on grain whisky.
The Malt Mill micro-distillery built at Lagavulin is one of the most enigmatic tales in Scotch whisky history.
Malt Mill was born in 1908 from an acrimonious falling out between the owners of Lagavulin and Laphroaig.
One of the more colourful lost distilleries, Malt Mill produced a peated whisky that contributed to some of Mackie & Co., and White Horse Distillers’ blends, including White Horse and Mackie’s Ancient Scotch.
Malt Mill shared Lagavulin’s mash tun, but has two washbacks and two pear-shaped stills of its own, modelled after those at Laphroaig.
At the start of the 20th century Lagavulin owner Peter Mackie was also agent for neighbouring distillery Laphroaig though his company, Mackie & Co.
The Vat 69 blend headed south with Ernest Shackleton on his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition for ‘medicinal and celebratory purposes’ in 1914.
It became one of America’s most popular whiskies after Prohibition ended in 1933 when its owners merged with Booth’s Distillers of London.
Vat 69 has appeared in films like Our Man in Havana and was popular with Bollywood villains from the 1970s, though it’s probably best known in the States as the favourite tipple of Capt. Lewis Nixon in the TV series Band of Brothers.
Crown of Scotland was a short-lived blended Scotch produced in the 1970s by Barton Distilling.
The Crown of Scotland blended Scotch whisky appeared in the mid-1970s and probably contained Littlemill and Loch Lomond malts. It was available in a variety of sizes for export.
Its origins are American although the brand first appeared in the mid-1970s and was relatively short-lived.
It was owned by Barton Distilling (Scotland) Ltd, the Scottish arm of Chicago-based Barton Brands Inc.
Barton operated Littlemill distillery from 1959 and gained total ownership in 1971 when the American entrepreneur DG Thomas, who had acquired Littlemill in 1931, was finally bought out.
Loch Lomond distillery was later constructed in 1966 to increase group capacity.
Barton Brands was then taken over by Amalgamated Distilled Products plc in 1982, which closed Littlemill two years later and sold Loch Lomond to Glen Catrine Bonded Warehouse Ltd in 1986.
As its whisky was a core part of the Crown of Scotland blend, it’s likely the brand also disappeared around the same time.
Dailuaine, Speyside distillery, rarely seen as a single malt bottling (the occasional Flora & Fauna from owner Diageo, infrequent independent offerings) is one of the many hard-working distilleries which quietly provide fillings for blends.
At the end of the 19th century, Dailuaine was the largest single malt distillery in Speyside and also one of the most innovative in terms of design.
It was built in 1851 by the ‘Royalty of Blenders’ William Mackenzie and by the 1860s was being serviced by the Strathspey railway.
The set-up – six large stills, condensers – suggests that a light style should be produced, but instead it produces a heavy ‘meaty’ make thanks to long fermentation, rapid distillation and the use of stainless steel in the condensers to cut down on copper interaction.
William Mackenzie died in 1865 and the distillery was leased to Aberlour banker, James Fleming.
1879 saw William’s son, Thomas forming MacKenzie and Co with Fleming.
That Flora & Fauna bottling (from ex-Sherry casks) shows this mix of richness and sweetness at its best.
A complete rebuild in 1884 saw the installation of Scotland’s first pagoda on a kiln whose pitch was deliberately steep to minimise the contact time between peat smoke and drying malt, one of the clearest indications of how the old ‘Strathspey’ style was changing.
In 1898, it merged with Talisker to form Dailuaine-Talisker Distilleries Ltd.
The distillery perished in a fire in 1917, by which time it had become part of DCL.
Saladin maltings ran from 1959 to 1970.
Dailuaine is also home to a dark grains plant and processes all of the spent grains from Diageo’s southern and central sites. If you see clouds of smoke rising from a riverside glen as you drive by the slopes of Ben Rinnes, that’s Dailuaine at work.
Hazelburn is a triple-distilled single malt whisky from Campbeltown’s Springbank distillery.
It is one of three styles of single malt made at Springbank distillery in Campbeltown.
While the bulk of the distillery’s output is concentrated on producing the Springbank malt, 10% of its production time is dedicated to creating the heavily peated Longrow, and a further 10% to the triple-distilled Hazelburn.
By using unpeated air-dried malt and triple distillation on two stills, the resultant spirit is light, fruity and subtle. It is currently available in 10- and 12-year-old expressions.
In the past Hazelburn has been released in limited numbers at a variety of ages and, as with all bottlings from J&A Mitchell, Hazelburn is neither chill-filtered nor coloured and is bottled on-site at 46% ABV unless otherwise stated.
The Hazelburn single malt is named after a former Campbeltown distillery that ran from the early-18th century until 1925, but in its short lifetime grew to become the biggest in the area.
Springbank distillery, itself licensed since 1828, first began producing triple-distilled spirit in 1997 and the first Hazelburn whisky bottled in 2005 as an 8-year-old. Three different labels were created to mark the brand’s first edition, each featuring a different aspect of Springbank: its maltings, stills and casks.
The core range now also features 12- and 10-year-old expressions, which were introduced in 2009 and 2014 respectively.
Although silent for decades, Parkmore Distillery is still standing and in remarkably good condition.
A Speyside single malt Scotch whisky and still standing as a silent distillery, Parkmore was really only in operation for around 35 years. During that time its whisky was used for blending, and was a likely constituent of James Watson & Co’s Baxter’s Barley Bree and Watson’s No. 10.
It may also have been a component of Dewar’s for a period.
Built in 1894 by Parkmore Distillery Company during the boom for the Scotch whisky industry, the Victorian distillery was one of the original ‘seven stills’ of Dufftown. Its location near Glenfiddich may be the reason for its excellent condition.
Following the Pattison crash of 1898 Parkmore was sold to Dundee whisky merchant and blender James Watson & Co, which had also picked up Glen Ord distillery in 1896 and went on to purchase Pulteney in Wick in 1920.
James Watson & Co was itself acquired by Buchanan-Dewar and John Walker & Sons in 1923 for ‘a little over £2m’. The deal included Parkmore, Pulteney and Glen Ord distilleries as well as eight million gallons of whisky stocks, ‘one of the most important stocks of old whisky in the country’.
James Watson was then dissolved. The stocks were shared out between the companies, while John Dewar &MP; Sons took on the distilleries.
The three distilleries didn’t remain with Dewar for long – just two years later Buchanan-Dewar was absorbed by the mighty Distillers Company Ltd (DCL).
As James Watson & Co was also one of the founders of the North British Distillery Company in 1885, established to counter DCL’s domination of the whisky market, this turn of events wouldn’t have been an easy pill to swallow for its founders.
Parkmore was transferred to DCL’s Scottish Malt Distillers subsidiary in 1930, before being mothballed the following year.
Although the distillery was licensed to Daniel Crawford & Son Ltd in 1940, its buildings were stripped and used for warehousing.
In 1988 the site was sold to Highland Distilleries (now Edrington) which uses Parkmore’s buildings for storage.
Once producing a floral, citrus malt within Girvan's grain complex, Ladyburn's whisky is now incredibly rare.
The whisky boom of the 1960s resulted in a brief fashion for malt distilleries being ensconced within grain distilleries: Kinclaith in Strathclyde; Glenflagler and Killyloch from Moffat; Ben Wyvis in Invergordon; and Inverleven & Lomond in Dumbarton.
Ladyburn was a member of that gang. It was built within William Grant & Sons’ Girvan grain complex in 1966, its four stills destined to produce fillings for the Grant’s blends and also to free up stock from Glenfiddich which was, by then, beginning to make a name for itself as a single malt brand.
However, when the grain side of Girvan’s operation needed to expand in 1975, Ladyburn was dismantled.
Its spirit lingers on because, in 2007, another single malt distillery opened within Girvan – Ailsa Bay.
The variety and international availability of Scotch single malts has never been greater, and the share of revenue earned by malts as a total of Scotch whisky exports has grown exponentially, hitting the £1bn mark for the first time in 2016.
In 1997 Aultmore celebrated 100 years of production. The celebrations were marked by a tree-planting on the Aultmore grounds. A centenary dinner dance was held in the Seaﬁeld Arms Hotel, Keith.
A limited edition bottling of 16 year old Aultmore was created to celebrate the centenary, and the rear label was printed with all of the names of the distillery staﬀ in 1997.
In the same year a new gas boiler was installed. Production at this me was 1.522 million litres of alcohol, produced over 42 weeks.
In 1998 , the site occupied 19 acres (8 hectares) with an adjoining farm of Milltown of Tarrycroys (130 acres / 53 hectares). Approximately half of this is planted with trees, the remainder being grass which is let to local farmers on an annual basis.
In 1999 , the redundant Dark Grains Plant and Cooperage were demolished and a new cooling tower installed.
Malted barley is now delivered weekly from specialist maltsters but while there isn’t enough barley grown in Scotland to supply all the country’s distilleries, Dewar’s remains one of the few whisky companies to only use barley grown in Scotland.
Aultmore’s early 1960s Porteus patent malt mill grinds the malted barley into grist. As with most other distilleries, and all ﬁve Dewar sites, the preferred consistency produces a grist with 70% grist, 20% husk and 10% ﬂour.
Ground barley is put in the 10 tonne-capacity full lauter mash tun, along with yeast and hot water. This Steinecker made mash tun doesn’t need an underback due to its computer controlled system continually monitoring pressure diﬀerentials.
After mashing, the 48,000 litres of wort are drained into one of the six larch wood washbacks that work on a non-stop rotation. The washbacks are made by a local company in Duﬀ Town and are replaced every 40 years.
The washbacks are ﬁtted with switcher blades – basically arms that sweep across the surface and literally cut through the froth produced by the CO2 emptiied during fermentation so preventing it bubbling over the top of the washback.
After just 56 hours – a shorter fermentation period than many distilleries –the wash is discharged and pressurised water used to clean the washbacks. The fermented liquid is pumped into the Abercromby copper wash stills, both with 22,970 litre capacities, for the ﬁrst distillation which produces a spirit of 23-26% ABV. Second distillation in the spirit stills, each with a 17,500 litre capacity, produces a new-make spirit at between 73-75% ABV.
Aultmore, along with the other Dewar distilleries, has a long foreshot run to remove heavy volatiles. The heart is captured for some four hours. The ﬁnal cut is made at 60-61% ABV, although this can depend on the destination of the spirit.
Whisky destined for Dewar’s blends and for release as single malts is shipped by tanker to John Dewar & Sons’ maturation and blending centre in Glasgow on London Road. There the whisky is put to barrels and aged for a minimum of three years before it is blended into the likes of Dewar’s White Label and Dewars 12-year-old.
With so many newcomers to the Scotch whisky sector, the future for single malt looks extremely positive, even though some of those newcomers are likely to push the boundaries of existing legislation, and new battles about ‘what is whisky’ may once again be on the horizon.
Aultmore was once found mostly in the blended whiskies of John Dewar & Sons (Dewar's White Label, Dewar's 12 Year Old, Dewar's 18 Year Old). It was rarely enjoyed on its own.
The Aultmore 12 YO single malt Scotch whisky was unveiled in 2014 for the Last Great Malts by Dewar's. It's been quite a while since a distillery bottling of Aultmore has been released.
A secluded site once known for smugglers and illicit stills, the Foggie Moss, conceals the water's source.
This 12-year-old is one of an existing trio launched in 2015 to highlight the Foggie Moss distillery with its exceptionally smooth, clean and fruity taste.
Also present in this newly launched range are a 21 and 25-year-old expressions that again promise the very best of this rare single malt.
The water source filters through bracken, gorse and heather purifying the water to the profit of Aultmore’s refined character.
Aultmore does have a strong cult following amongst enthusiasts via independent bottlings and particularly those from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.
The distillery itself is situated in a remote region of Speyside and wasn’t connected to the national grid until 1969 when steam engines were retired.
It continues to be a major contributor to the Dewar’s range of blended whiskies and the Old Perth blend.
The only prior single malt bottling was the rather average 12-year-old released in 2004 as part of the Flora and Fauna range.
Born of fog, bog and brimming wee burns, it has a verdant nose of dewy moss and delicate flora & fresh wild herbs.
Aultmore was totally revamped in the early 1970’s; today it isn’t the most glamorous of distilleries to look upon.
Such changes were commonplace across the industry as improvements were sought in efficiency and production, with the number of stills being doubled to 4.
The distillery is not open to the public and there are no warehouses to mature whisky on site. This all points towards its role as a major contributor to blends, as is commonplace across Speyside.
This rare Speyside classic has been distilled in handmade copper pot stills since 1897, yet for over a century it was only sold in limited editions aimed at collectors.
Sometimes a sly taste of AULTMORE could be found in a few local bars, but only if you knew to ask for "a nip of the Buckie Road."
Aultmore 12 was once derided as the AultSNORE.
Running the stills slow helps to maximise reflux, but the shape also allows some heavier elements to come across. In character, therefore, Aultmore shares some of the same characters as Linkwood – fragrant on the nose, substantial on the tongue.
Built by the enterprising Alexander Edward in 1896 it was always going to be pressed into service for blends.
In 1923 it became part of the John Dewar & Sons estate and has remained so ever since. In fact, so highly prized is it as a blending malt that when Bacardi was in the process of buying Dewar’s from Diageo, it was willing to walk away from the deal if Aultmore wasn’t included.
Badarrach was a distillery situated just south of the Kyle of Sutherland in Strath Oykel.
This Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky distillery in northern Ross-shire would have been housed on one of two farms called East and West Badarrach, also spelled Badarach. Both were close to streams that would have been good water sources.
Badarrach distillery was opened by Thomas Houston in 1826, though it closed seven years later.
In 1917, a fire erupted in the ground-floor offices at 13 King Street and spread rapidly, virtually destroying the building. The fire was brought under control before reaching the whisky warehouse, with its highly flammable contents.
The deaths in 1935 first of Charles Stewart Howard (age unknown) while undergoing surgery and then several months later of Alexander Smith (cause and age unknown) capped the company’s most miserable 15-year period in its history to date.
At one of Queen Victoria’s summertime stopovers at Balmoral Castle in the late 1880s, an urgent entreaty in the form of a note arrived from the Castle asking Alexander to locate, hire, and then deliver posthaste a young donkey.
It was later revealed that the queen needed the donkey to pull her invalid chair around the grounds of Balmoral.
In 1952, George & J.G. Smith Ltd. joined forces with J. & J. Grant Ltd. that owned nearby Glen Grant Distillery, to form a new corporation, The Glenlivet & Glen Grant Distillers Ltd.
Samuel Bronfman wrongly claimed to be Canada-born, raised and reared on the expansive Manitoba prairie, whereas he was the son of immigrants from Russia. Documents determining his place of birth as well as the year of his birth are as clear as swamp water.
Bronfman’s first foray into actual distilling occurred in 1925 when he and his brothers, who were already successful hoteliers and liquor salesmen in western Canada, opened their own distillery seven miles west of Montreal in the town of Ville LaSalle.
According to him, “Distillers in America were indicted, while in England they were knighted.”
By 1928, the eighth year of America’s Prohibition, Bronfman’s international ambitions propelled him into buying an established distiller, the Ontario-based Joseph E. Seagram and Sons Ltd., a company that was founded in 1857 as a grain mill and distillery.
Seagram, despite being entirely legal Canadian distillers, almost certainly were involved with Prohibition bootlegging in the United States.
Within the galaxy of U.S. bootlegging crime, two big-time figures have been mentioned—Meyer Lansky and Frank Costello.
Minor characters of dubious distinction included James Rutkin and Joseph Reinfeld, known gangsters from New Jersey,
Bronfman customers during Prohibition were an army (and navy) of bootleggers taking delivery in ships off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, in small crafts at handy crossings along the St. Lawrence-Great Lakes system, in cars and trucks at dusty Prairie towns bordering on North Dakota and Montana.
The value of the legally produced Canadian product soared as contraband in the United States and the profits of the illegal trade gave birth to an underworld that meted out death as standard disciplinary action. It was on this brutish trade that the Bronfman family’s fortune was squarely based.
Bronfman and his brothers were millionaires many times over by the time that Prohibition ended in 1933.
Bronfman saw the opportunity to flood the U.S. market with his prized Canadian blends, most prominently, Seagram’s V.O.
Just 12 years after Bronfman’s entry into Scotland, the total annual sales of Distillers Corporation—Seagrams Ltd. skyrocketed to a staggering $438 million, an astounding leap forward of 625 % from 1936.
Bronfman purchased Chivas Brothers—essentially two grocery shops, their trade marks, plus a small inventory of high-class, well-aged Scotch—for a mere 85,000 pounds, and with these raw materials he built what those in the trade came to see as his masterpiece, Chivas Regal 12 YO.
Bronfman told his inner circle that he did not want to rush the Chivas Regal reintroduction. He would prefer to have word on the street & anticipation whet the appetites of whisky drinkers.
Distillers Corporation-Seagrams Ltd. could potentially realise enormous profit margins because Chivas Regal would cost significantly more per bottle than its competitors like Johnnie Walker Red Label, Black & White, Cutty Sark, J&B Rare, and Dewar’s White Label.
Chivas Regal was listed at USD 8.00 vs the USD 4.50-6.0 for the younger competitors.
A pivotal element of the deal that had pricked Bronfman’s interest lay in the Royal Warrants for food provisions and Scotch whisky that had been bestowed on Chivas Brothers Ltd. throughout its storied history.
Every attempt, every approach, every ploy conceived by the Bronfmans to obtain a Royal Warrant prior to the Chivas Brothers Ltd. sale was blocked by the Royal Court.
Yul Brynner was a devoted admirer of The Glenlivet.
By end 1952, 97 distilleries were active again in Scotland, up from 57 in 1945.
1953 saw Great Britain finally emerge from its postwar Scotch whisky gloom.
Queen Elizabeth’s coronation was celebrated by Sam Bronfman’s Chivas Brothers in the form of Royal Salute Blended Scotch Whisky. This limited edition Chivas Brothers 21-year-old blend was specially formulated to honour the 21-gun salute to the new monarch performed by the Royal Navy. Royal Salute’s core single malts included Strathisla, The Glenlivet, Longmorn, and Glen Grant.
Only 3,600 bottles of the 16-year-old malt whisky “Coronation Glenlivet.” came from 12 casks that had been distilled on May 12, 1937, the day of the coronation of George VI.
The Glenlivet malt whisky continued to be tight the world over until 1960 for two reasons. First, 98 % of The Glenlivet total production during the period was sold off to whisky brokers, leaving a scant 02% to be bottled as single malt. With blended Scotch whiskies flying off the shelves of retailers in North America, it was more lucrative to Bill Smith Grant to sell his high-grade malt whisky directly to whisky brokers who would then turn around and sell it to the blenders in the south of Scotland. Blenders coveted The Glenlivet’s impeccable malt whisky more than most others.
Second, it took Bill and Arthur more than a decade to correct the inventory shortages caused by the shutdowns and restrictions imposed during World War II. By 1960 to 1961, a normal flow of The Glenlivet was restored.
The Glenlivet Distillery punched through the 400,000-gallon mark in the distilling season of 1962 – 1963.
Single Malt Scotch Whiskies sold in the United States in 1964 were The Glenlivet 1,600 cases. Glenfarclas 600 cases, Laphroaig 250 cases, Glen Grant 300 cases and Glenfiddich 200 cases.
The half-million gallon mark was reached at The Glenlivet Distillery three seasons later (1965-1966). The Glenlivet accounted for slightly over half of all single malt whisky sold in the United States in the 1960s.
Bill Smith Grant and his agents opened other overseas markets in South Africa, Australia, Italy, France, and Germany.
Requests for The Glenlivet came from many distant ports-of-call: Mexico, the Philippines, Burma, China, Japan, and Ethiopia.
The Top Ten Selling Distilled Spirits in the United States—1967:
1. Seagram’s 7 Crown, Blended American Whiskey;7,750,000 cases
2. Seagram’s V.O., Blended Canadian Whisky; 3,975,000 cases
3. Canadian Club, Blended Canadian Whisky; 3,675,000 cases
4. Smirnoff, American Vodka; 3,600,000 cases
5. Jim Beam, Straight Bourbon; 2,650,000 cases
6. Gordon’s, American Gin; 2,625,000 cases
7. Bacardi, Puerto Rican Rum; 2,550,000 cases
8. J & B Rare, Blended Scotch; 2,400,000 cases
9. Cutty Sark, Blended Scotch; 2,325,000 cases
10. Calvert Extra, Blended Canadian Whisky; 2,275,000 cases
In 1970, The Glenlivet was operating two pairs of overworked stills, two wash stills, and two spirits stills at full capacity. The distillery was running seven days a week on two shifts, 24/7.
Bill Smith Grant planned further expansion with the addition of another set of stills. Bill and distillery manager Robert Arthur were forced to allocate a larger percentage of whisky for bottling as single malt.
David Daiches wrote in 1970, “Only 05 percent of The Glenlivet is today bottled as a single [malt] whisky: the rest goes to the blenders, and all the important blenders except Teacher’s take some Glenlivet.
The distillery itself bottles (though not at the distillery) only a twelve-year-old, which is splendid.
Other bottlers bottle it at different ages: Gordon & MacPhail of Elgin bottle a variety of ages, each with a differently coloured label.
The one classic of malt whiskies would be The Glenlivet 12 YO.
In the summer of 1970, The Glenlivet & Glen Grant Distillers Ltd. joined with two other whisky trade entities: Longmorn Distillers Ltd., whose two prize possessions were the Longmorn and Benriach distilleries; and Hill, Thomson & Co. Ltd. of Edinburgh, producers of Queen Anne and Something Special blended Scotch whiskies.
For the upcoming 150th anniversary of The Glenlivet in 1974, gas lines were installed to more efficiently heat the stills; the pair of new copper stills added to the stillhouse almost doubled production. Production catapulted forward past 825,000 gallons in 1973 - 1974 and topped an astounding 1.3 million gallons in 1974 - 1975.
The affluent English, accustomed in large measure to gin, port, brandy, and wine, made it clear to James Chivas that they fancied a tamer, smoother whisky than that offered by most of the Highland malt distillers.
The inaugural whisky brand from Stewart & Chivas, Royal Glen Dee, made its debut in 1852. As James Chivas’ first publicly sold whisky and the forerunner of Chivas Regal, it garnered early popularity.
“Mixing Highland malt whisky with column still spirits would be like marrying a prince to an idiot’s daughter. It’ll never happen in this lifetime,” said an article in the Aberdeen Observer in August 1835.
Following the path of Glenlivet Distillery, other fabled malt whisky distilleries like Macallan, Fettercairn, Longrow, Balmenach, and Mortlach, also began in 1824.
In 1825, 121 distilleries opened for business, including famous ones like Ben Nevis, Port Ellen, Strathisla, Kippen, Glencadam, and Glenury.
Aberlour and Pulteney opened in 1826. In 1835, only one single malt distillery, Lochruan, was licensed.
Bristol-based Allied Domecq started in 1994 as a conglomerate of breweries, but over the years divested its brewing business to focus more on its rapidly growing spirits portfolio, which included Teacher’s, Ballantine’s and Laphroaig. Its business strategy resulted in Allied Domecq becoming the world’s second-largest spirits group.
Following the 1997 merger of IDV and United Distillers to form Diageo, Allied Domecq became the second-largest spirits producer in the world, albeit a distant second.
in 2005, the French drinks giant Pernod Ricard, backed by the American Fortune Brands Inc., bought Allied Domecq for £7.5bn.
Its Associated Companies are Allied Breweries, Allied Distillers, Allied Lyons, Campbell Distillers, Chivas Brothers Holdings and Duncan Macleod & Company.
Glasgow-based Campbell Distillers, was a whisky blending and bottling company famous for its Clan Campbell blended whiskies.
The company purchased the Aberlour distillery after the Second World War. Following acquisition by Pernod Ricard, it added the Glenallachie distillery to its stable and found a major market for its Clan Campbell brand of blended whisky in France and Spain.
Campbell Distillers has one of the most complicated legacies of identity crisis of any Scottish whisky company, boasting several name changes in just 50 years.
A historic institution in London’s St James‘s district, Berry Bros & Rudd is a family-owned and run wine and spirits merchant.
The company is Britain's oldest wine and spirt merchant, established in the 17th century. Its flagship store has been located at 3 St James's Street, London, since 1698 when it was founded by the Widow Bourne.
A supplier to the Royal Family since the reign of King George III, historic customers have included Lord Byron, William Pitt the Younger and the Aga Khan.
Berry Bros & Rudd stocks more than 4,000 wines and spirits and 40 different ranges of own-label wines, as well as own-label spirits under the ‘Berrys' Own Selection’ banner.
Additionally, the company offers the ‘Selected by Berrys' After Dinner Range’ of whiskies, Blue Hanger blended malt, Craoi na Móna single Irish malt whisky and the special edition ‘John Milroy Selection of Scotch Whiskies.’
Berry Bros & Rudd was also proprietor of the Glenrothes single malt brand for several years in the 2010s, though the distillery itself was owned and operated by The Edrington Group. As of 2017 the brand has been sold back to Edrington.
The company’s colourful history encompasses placing wines on board the Titanic, supplying smugglers running alcohol into Prohibition-era America, and sheltering Napoleon III in cellars beneath the shop!
The firm created the Cutty Sark blended whisky in 1923.
The Last Drop brand was created by two whisky industry veterans, James Espey and Tom Jago, on a mission to seek out and bottle some of the rarest, most precious Scotch whisky lurking in Scotland’s warehouses.
Since the brand’s first bottling in 2008, The Last Drop has offered a variety of rare whiskies from both existing and lost distilleries, at ages ranging from 48-50-years-old.
The Last Drop Distillers bottles in the tens and hundreds with a price range in the thousands, retailing through selected partners worldwide.
Each bottle in the range comes complete with a miniature containing the same liquid.
In 2012, it created a partnership in China with Golden Glen Wine & Spirits Ltd.
In 2013, they released a 50 YO Blended Scotch, with 70 malt and 12 grin whiskies, for £ 3,000 per.
Sazerac Company Inc of New Orleans, owner of Buffalo Trace Bourbon, acquired Last Drop Distillers in 2016.
One of a trio of distilleries in the Garioch, Glendronach was founded in 1826 by a partnership of local farmers headed by James Allardice.
Under his charismatic lead, it built a strong reputation (it was on sale in London soon after its foundation) but tragedy struck in 1837 when a fire virtually destroyed the distillery. The bad news continued when Allardice went bankrupt in 1842.
His promotional activities had however stood the whisky in good stead. Seeing its potential, Walter Scott (not the author) came forward in 1852, and rebuilt the distillery into its current condition.
Its next most significant owner arrived in 1920, when Capt. Charles Grant, the youngest son of William Grant of Glenfiddich, bought it. It remained with the family for 40 years when it was sold to Wm Teacher & Sons. who added a second pair of stills in 1967.
It passed to Allied Distillers in 1976, when that firm purchased the Teacher’s estate.
In 1991, it was released as two 12-year-old expressions – one aged in ex-Bourbon, one in ex-Sherry – a real innovation for the time, but the brand never received any serious backing.
Placed in mothballs between 1996 and 2002, it ended up with Pernod Ricard which sold it in 2008 to The BenRiach Distilling Co.
Since then, a new visitor’s centre has been opened and a new range of single malts has been released. It is fast becoming a favourite with Sherried malt lovers globally and has built a considerable following in Taiwan.
Its water source is the Balnoon Spring
Scottish whisky companies, mostly the omnipotent DCL, made it hard for North American distillers to enter Scotland’s whisky industry by scooping up prime whisky stocks thereby keeping entry prices high. Bronfman decided not to leave the fate of his crown jewel, Chivas Regal in the hands of strangers.
Royal Salute’s core single malts include Strathisla, The Glenlivet, Longmorn and Glen Grant. After the bottle was changed from dark green to clear glass to accentuate the striking tawny-amber color of Chivas Regal, a new ad followed. The headline read: ‘What Idiot Changed the Chivas Regal Package?’ Its conclusion: ‘Maybe the Idiot Was a Genius.’” This one ad turned a fading Chivas Regal around.
Two of the most famous lines used for snob appeal with a photo of a single Chivas Regal bottle:
1. We’ve given First More Class. (Reference to flying in first class while sipping Chivas Regal)
2. Of course, you can live without Chivas Regal. The question is, How well?
Many ads stressed the quality and price of Chivas Regal with a snotty tone and a photo of a single Chivas Regal bottle:
• If you can’t taste the difference in Chivas Regal, save the extra two dollars.
• If anybody tells you that you’re paying for the label when you buy Chivas Regal, he’s not completely wrong.
•Not all the best things in life are free.
•Why think of it as an expensive Scotch when you can think of it as an inexpensive luxury.
•Your cost of living may go up a little, but your standard of living will go up a lot.
• It’s a great Scotch. And one of these days I’m going to open it.
•When serving Chivas Regal, do you suddenly become exceedingly generous with your ice cubes?
•To the host it’s half-empty. To the guest it’s half-full.
•You can never thank your father enough, but at least you can give him Chivas Regal.
• Our sympathy to all those who get a bottle of Chivas Regal only at Christmas time. • It’s better to give than receive, with certain possible exceptions.
• Man and woman walking down the street arm-in-arm. Man says: “Your Chivas or mine?”
•Drawing of a shipyard dock with a huge ocean liner just pulling away. Dockworkers are looking at cases of Chivas Regal left behind and one says, “They’ll be back. They forgot the Chivas.”
• Drawing of a fortune-teller saying to an anxious male client, “I see her running away . . . with your savings...your bowling trophies...your best friend. And now for the bad news . . . they’re taking your Chivas.”
•Drawing of man sitting at a desk at home, looking up at his wife and asking, “I’m listing our assets . . . how much Chivas Regal is left in the bottle?”
•Drawing of two birds perched on the rim of a birdbath. One says to the other, “Just once I’d like to see some Chivas in this damned thing.”
Scottish composer James Scott Skinner wrote the rage of the district’s inns and pubs pianoforte and violin ditty, titled Glenlivet Whisky, O! to “Major Smith, Minmore.”
Freemasons! To the Major drink—
We daurna speak, but we can wink,
An’ heaven be thankit, we can think,
An’ thinkin’, feel richt frisky, O!
Lang may they thrive in stock an’ store,
Balmenach, Craggan, an’ Minmore.
An’ I’ll be up to ha’e a spoire
In gran’ Glenlivet Whisky, O!
In the spring of 1890, a publication known as the Illustrated London News produced a four-page article on Scotch whisky, complete with drawings of The Glenlivet and Andrew Usher & Company.
It added: Thirty or forty years ago it was hardly heard of as a beverage south of the Tweed [River]; now it is the usual drink of a large part of the community, not only in England but all over that Great Britain which lies across the seas. . . . There are at present no fewer than 126 distilleries in Scotland, employing a small army of men ...113 of these distilleries use malt in the manufacture of their spirits . . .”
The remaining 13 distilleries produced grain whisky that went into making blended Scotch whisky, which as mentioned was the biggest whisky innovation in the half-century from 1850 to 1900.
No ironclad, irrefutable proof, however, was ever brought to public light directly linking the Bronfmans with the illegal trafficking of alcoholic beverages across the U.S.-Canadian border from 1920 to 1933.
The Bronfmans were acquitted of charges brought by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police through trials in Canadian courts; through congressional investigations conducted in Washington, DC, that turned up only ambiguous circumstantial evidence against them, and through decades of adamant denial of bootleg activities by virtually all family members.
Many industry observers still believe that at least part of the tremendous wealth that the Bronfmans accumulated during the 1920s came from illicit dealings during the Prohibition years.
Another ditty went:
‘Minmore Glenlivet is the best
In bottle or in cask,
Nae finer says St. Peter,
Mak wey, get it in fast,
O’ a’ the spirits coming up here,
Rejected, Yes, believe it,
Except what is so genuine. The Glenlivet.’”
In 1979, Chivas Regal, a deluxe whisky then selling (1.125 million cases) at retail for $16 per bottle ($5 more than the leading brands), was the fifth best-selling Scotch whisky in America behind Johnnie Walker Red (4th), Cutty Sark (3rd), Dewar’s White Label (2nd), and J&B Rare (1st).
The one mistake that Bronfman regretted late in his life was the blind eye he had turned to vodka: “I never believed the public would want to buy something with no taste to it.”
Aside from controlling and operating such respected malt distilleries as Glen Grant, Longmorn, Caperdonach, and Benriach, The Glenlivet. was owner of the distillery whose malt whisky was an important part of the Chivas Regal recipe, with it’s near-mythical malt whisky.
A team of Seagram and Chivas Brothers executives, attorneys, and accountants assessed the soundness of The Glenlivet Distillers Ltd. and discovered that Seagram had an opportunity to acquire through private negotiations a 24.5 % interest in The Glenlivet Distillers Ltd. Most interestingly, this block would be the largest single holding of the company and could likely be the first step in a general takeover.
Seagram was the distributor of the single malt whiskies of The Glenlivet, the best-selling single malt in the United States.
Suntory, the Japanese drinks giant, owned 11 percent of GDL stock. A Seagram’s deal could block Japanese expansion.
In 1978, Edgar Bronfman paid £46 million (~ $88 million at the time) for the controlling stake in The Glenlivet Distillers Ltd.
The Glenlivet company sold more than 300,000 cases a year of the 5 YO Glen Grant in Italy. Seagram could sell Chivas Regal aggressively in Italy.
Bacardi Silver (clear) Rum and Smirnoff Vodka bolt to the top of the leader board in 1980, finishing one and two respectively in U.S. total case sales, stumping Seagram. Seagram’s 7 Crown and Seagram’s V.O.—were bumped down the ladder to numbers three and four.
Nearly 85 percent of all the Scotch produced is sold abroad and because of an unaccountable surge in demand from Japan.
Glen Keith distillery was built to assist Strathisla in supplying enough malt whisky for Chivas Regal and to make the malt whisky for his next blended Scotch creation, 100 Pipers.
It was the first new malt distillery built in Scotland since the time of Queen Victoria.
A massive plant was to be built on a 14-acre plot of land in Paisley, west of Glasgow. The Paisley edifice would serve as the headquarters for all of Seagram’s Scottish interests, as well as being the bottling, ageing, and blending centre for Chivas Brothers Ltd.
In 1980, blended Scotch accounted for 99 percent of all Scotch whisky produced.
In the 1980s, America discovered vodka with its easy to drink and fun imagery, leaving the Scotch category to stumble around.
Even though global case sales of Chivas Regal hit three million in 1988, Chivas Regal in the United States was in a freefall.
This was when Johnnie Walker Black Label 12-year-old Blended Scotch from the United Distillers stable [now Diageo], swooped in successfully.
The introduction of Chivas Regal 18 was resisted by Edgar Bronfman, who would not look beyond the 12 YO.
To the shock of old-time Seagram observers and money managers the world over, Edgar sold their entire blue chip 24% Du Pont holding in 1995 at a price 13 % lower than the market rate. Commentators said, “Buying Du Pont was the deal of the century; selling it was the dumbest deal of the century.”
The worst Chivas experiment ever was dubbed “Chivas DeDanu,” a specially concocted blend geared for younger drinkers in Italy. It failed on day 1.
Whisky creator Gordon & MacPhail released the world's oldest single malt Scotch whisky, an 80 Year Old from Glenlivet Distillery - in partnership with Sir David Adjaye OBE- named Gordon & MacPhail Generations 80-Years-Old.
George Urquhart and his father, John, had the extraordinary foresight and vision to lay down spirit from Glenlivet Distillery in a bespoke Gordon & MacPhail cask to be enjoyed by future generations on 3rd February 1940.
Referred to by renowned whisky writer Charlie MacLean as 'the father of single malt', George Urquhart passionately believed that each whisky should be left to mature until the cask and spirit had combined to create the desired quality, and it was ready to be shared. The time for Cask 340 was to be 80 years – longer than any other Scotch whisky in history.
On 5th February 2020, a decision was taken to finally bottle the cask's precious out-turn, yielding a total of 250 decanters.
That this whisky - the oldest single malt Scotch ever bottled - remains so full of vibrant flavour with a strength of 44.9% ABV, is testimony to knowledge handed down over successive generations of the Rankin family.
Stephen Rankin, Director of Prestige at Gordon & MacPhail Whiskies, is a member of the fourth generation of the family that owns the company.
For over 125 years, Gordon & MacPhail, through four generations of family ownership, has matched its own casks with spirit from over 100 Scottish distilleries. It is this unique depth and breadth of experience that enables Gordon & MacPhail to combine oak, spirit and time to create iconic whiskies found nowhere else in the world.
Gordon & MacPhail has collaborated with internationally acclaimed architect and designer, Sir David Adjaye OBE, to create a unique decanter and oak case to house the world's most precious whisky to date.
In the same way that a 50th anniversary is commemorated by gold, 80 years is traditionally symbolised by oak - a pleasing reflection of this whisky, cradled in oak for eight decades.
Sir David Adjaye's stunning decanter and case was revealed in September 2021, with decanter number #1 auctioned by Sotheby's early October. To continue the legacy theme, auction proceeds, minus costs, will be donated to award-winning Scottish charity Trees for Life whose mission is to rewild the Caledonian Forest.
The Generations range from Gordon & MacPhail has previously presented some of the longest matured single malt Scotch whisky ever to be bottled.
The name 'Generations' signifies the many decades these whiskies have been left to mature and the four generations of company ownership by the same family.
Gordon & MacPhail's Generations range presents some of the longest-matured single malt Scotch whisky ever to be bottled representing iconic moments of Scotland's liquid history.
Previous 'Generations' releases include: Generations 70 Years Old from Mortlach Distillery; Generations 70 Years Old from Glenlivet Distillery; Generations 70 Years Old from Glenlivet Distillery (release no. two); Generations 75 Years Old from Mortlach Distillery.
In 2013, a bottle of 1862 Old Vatted Glenlivet was auctioned in a Bonhams auction house in New York and sold for US$7,735. It is bottled by the Glenlivet Distillery in Scotland, UK, which is one of the oldest legal distilleries founded in 1824 by George Smith.
Another bottle of the same whisky was found and instead of being auctioned or sold, it was ceremoniously poured into a line of luxury watches. Aptly called the Whisky Watch, the timepieces are a collaboration between Wealth Solutions and Swiss watchmaker Louis Moinet that were made available on April 8, 2017. They retailed for €14,625 ($17,866) for the steel-case model and €37,375 ($45,655) for one of the ten limited red-gold watches.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the oldest whisky in the world is believed to be a bottle of Glenavon Special Liqueur Whisky. Bottled by the Glenavon Distillery in Ballindalloch, Scotland, UK, the exact age of the bottle of whisky is uncertain. With the closing of Glenavon Distillery in the 1850s, it is estimated to have been bottled between 1851 and 1858, making it roughly 160 years old.
In 2006, a bottle of Glenavon Special Liqueur Whisky owned by an Irish family for generations went up for auction at a Bonhams auction house in London. It sold for €14,850. The bottle, pale green in colour, is small in size and holds only 14 ounces (around 400ml) of pale gold liquid.
The Sovereign 53 YO is a Single Grain Scotch Whisky bottled in 1964 by Cambus Distillery, Stirling, Scotland.
Released by independent bottler Hunter Laing, only 267 bottles of The Sovereign were produced. This limited run of single grain Scotch whisky is one of the oldest whiskies at over 50 years old and is being sold at The Whisky Shop for €550. It was aged in a refilled bourbon barrel and bottled at cask strength, a whopping 49.2% volume.
The Cambus Distillery was founded in Stirling, Scotland in 1836 by John Mowbray. Most of the original buildings were destroyed in a September 1914 fire and the distillery was eventually closed and decommissioned in 1993.
Considered to be one of the oldest malt whiskies, the Mortlach 70-year-old went on sale in 2010. Only 54 full-size bottles were produced and priced at €10,000 each, along with 162 smaller €2,500 bottles.
The whisky was released by Gordon and MacPhail. The first bottle was piped in Edinburgh Castle and tasted by guests in the Queen Anne Room.
The Last Drop 50 Year Old Double Matured is a 50 YO Blended Scotch Whisky when first bottled and sold in 1965.
It is bottled by The Last Drop Distillers, London. The distillery was founded in 2008 by three veterans in the spirits industry, James Espey, Tom Jago and Peter Fleck.
Between them they have created some of the most world-renowned brands such as Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Malibu and Bailey’s Irish Cream. The mission of The Last Drop is to find and bottle the world’s finest, rarest and most exclusive spirits.
Their latest offering is a “double matured” blend which means the whisky has undergone two distinct aging periods.
The initial blend was made of more than 50 different whiskeys and spent 30 years in a bourbon cask before spending another 20 years in a sherry cask.
The result is an exclusive 898 bottle run that has been highly praised, winning Blended Scotch Whisky of the Year 2016 by Jim Murray.
Black & White was a Victorian blend that became world-famous thanks to its friendly black and white terrier mascots.
First introduced in the late 19th century, today Black and White is popular around the world in countries such as India, South Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.
James Buchanan formed his own whisky company in 1884 after five years with blender Charles Mackinlay & Co. His flagship whisky was The Buchanan Blend, a light, smooth unpeated expression designed specifically to appeal to the English palate.
The Buchanan Blend, which initially incorporated Dalwhinnie, Clynelish and Glendullan malts, became an instant hit south of the border and was picked up by the Members Bar at the House of Commons in London.
In honour of his prestigious client, Buchanan renamed the blend Buchanan’s House of Commons Finest Old Highland whisky, and presented it in a dark glass bottle with a striking white label.
Before long, drinkers began ordering ‘that Black & White whisky’, and in 1902 the name was officially changed again to Black and White. By then the brand was being exported across the world, and by 1907 it was being ordered by the emperor of Japan.
Two years later it had become the most popular blend in England.
The Highland distillery of Dalwhinnie was a core part of the blend, and in time became Black & White’s spiritual home.
It was while under the auspices of the DCL during the 1920s that the Black & White terriers began featuring more heavily in the brand’s advertising, quickly becoming iconic ambassadors for Buchanan’s flagship blend.
In 2013 the brand was given a contemporary makeover, and the terriers made the move onto the bottle’s label for the first time.
Label 5 is one of the world’s best-selling blended Scotch whiskies. It has a French owner who is in full control of production. Over the years the brand has enhanced its portfolio with a ladder of expressions boasting a large quantity of Speyside single malt, from the flagship Label 5 Classic Black and Extra Premium 12 Year Old, through to the Extra Rare 18 Year Old, slightly smoky Gold Heritage and Sherry cask-finished Reserve No. 55.
Frenchman Jean Cayard established La Martiniquaise in 1934 as a rum importer and domestic distribution company. He had no idea it would grow to become the second-largest spirits group in France, and the fifth largest Scotch whisky producer in the world.
It wasn’t until 1969, with his portfolio brimming with Port, Cognac and Calvados, that Cayard began dabbling in Scotch whisky with the launch of the Label 5 blend.
It first drew a dedicated following from France before building its worldwide appeal. Today it is enjoyed in more than 100 countries.
The location of Kilchoman on Islay’s west coast has some historical resonance. It was in this parish that the MacBeatha/Beaton family settled when they came across in 1300 from what is now County Antrim in Northern Ireland.
In November 2017, an additional malting floor and kiln was built on site.
In May 2019, Kilchoman doubled production with the construction of a new stillhouse containing two more stills, along with a new mash tun and six new washbacks. That has taken production capacity close to 0.5m litres of pure alcohol a year, and will enable experimental runs using different yeast and barley varieties.
Once set up, they revitalised the old common practice of farm scale distilling. Just like 200 years ago, they grew, malt, peated their own barley, and also all distilling, maturation, and bottling was done within the farm distillery limits.
These days, only 25% of its barley requirements come from Islay (mostly from fields around the distillery). It has two small malting floors and kilns which produce a medium-peated malt; the heavily peated malt with which it is mixed comes from Port Ellen.
Archaeological evidence shows a long history of human settling in the parish of Kilchoman. There are remnants of two hamlets to the southeast of the bay, Dun Neadean and Dun Chroisprig.
Kilchoman 100% Islay 10th Edition is the world’s only Single Farm Single Malt Scotch Whisky.
Loch Gorm is the name given to Kilchoman’s annual sherry matured limited edition. Named after Islay’s largest freshwater lake neighbouring the distillery, the dark, peat-coloured murky colour of the loch’s water is reflected in the rich coppery tones of the sherry matured Loch Gorm release.
Loch Gorm is Islay’s biggest freshwater loch with an abundance of wildlife.
The Allt Gleann Osamail burn, from which Kilchoman collects their production water, is one of the loch’s major tributaries.
Exactly two years and 144 days in the making, the new Ardbeg Stillhouse was completed in March 2021.
Altering the character of the whisky was a risk they weren’t prepared to take, so the new stills were built to the exact specifications as the old ones were – right down to the millimetre.
In true Ardbeg style, even the things that didn’t matter, mattered. Every nut, bolt and rivet had to be in the right place!
Ardbeg’s current era of high demand and expansion is a world away from its near demise two decades ago, when it was acquired by Glenmorangie in a poor state of repair.
The distillery spent most of the 1980s and 1990s either silent, working intermittently and conducting experiments or being used for spare parts by nearby Laphroaig, then under the same ownership.
Where does that quintessential Ardbeg character – the lush fruit keeping the smoke in check – come from? From the angle on the lyne arm and the purifier, collecting any liquid and directing it back into the body of the still, allowing it to run back down, but not stopping the vapours from heading up the still.
At Ardbeg, the pre-pandemic talk was no longer that of survival, but of expansion, with its own challenges and potential pitfalls. Intervening in the serendipitous evolutionary process that has made Ardbeg 'Ardbeg' over a period of more than two centuries is something that has to be done with care and sensitivity.
It's often said that, in the bottle of fine alcohol, people can sense the spirit of the nation from which it came. Simply giving a freshly uncorked bottle a whiff will make you say: “Well, well. So this is what it’s about.”
Diageo has given its eponymous Black Label a makeover to celebrate 200 years+ since John Walker started his journey in Kilmarnock in 1820.
Johnnie Walker launched its Black Label Origin Series in India in 2021.
A collection of four 12 year old blended Scotch whiskies, the series resonates with flavours that represent the Origins from the four annotated Regions of Scotch Whisky in Scotland, viz. Speyside, Highlands, Lowlands and Islay.
Each has its distinctive flavor, quite different from the next. All have only a smallish reminder of the innards of the JWBL.
Johnnie Walker Black Label used to be sweetness wrapped in drifting smoke at 43% ABV. It is still touted as a masterful blend of single malt and grain whiskies from across Scotland, aged for at least 12 years but bottled at 40% ABV.
Sadly, it has lost its charm and vice-like grip on the deluxe blended Scotch whisky market, as the original malts have gone into posterity.
Blender George Harper, who created the successful White Walker release in early 2019, describes the four elements in Johnnie Walker Black Label as “smoke, fresh fruit, rich fruit and creamy vanilla. No one flavour dominates.”
But with four new blends, his brief was to do the opposite. The idea was to pull it apart, focus on one element, and accentuate the regions.
This would be an impossible task, considering ground realities and the final decision was to create three Blended Malts for the Islay, Speyside and Highlands regions and a Blended Scotch for the Lowlands, centred around Caol Ila, Cardhu, Clynelish for the Blended Malts and Glenkinchie and Cameronbridge distilleries for the Blended Scotch.
The hardest one to get right was the Highland because of the sheer variety of styles and complexity in the region.
The modern generation is more interested in the end result and time is only relative. The right taste at the right price and damn the brand.
Very true, considering the numerous new distilleries that are opening now. More and more people are interested in flavour, they are increasingly very open-minded.
The Origin series encourages traffic between blended and malt whisky customers, but the team at Diageo also sees them as breaking down barriers in other ways.
These are meant to be as happy mixed in cocktails as in dram form. To prove the point, a series of cocktails were made by their bartender Joey Medrington: the Islay in a Highball with Fever Tree orange and ginger; the Highland in a Rob Roy made with PX sherry, the Lowland in an Old Fashioned with honey syrup, and the Speyside in another long drink with elderflower and soda water. The Islay Highball was breathtaking, but it’s the Lowland with its creamy profile that is particularly cocktail-friendly.
All four whiskies are 12 years old and bottled at 42% ABV.
The good thing about them is the price: they will sit just above standard Black Label.
Johnnie Walker Black Label Speyside Origin is a light and fruity whisky with hints of cut green apples and orchard fruit. It is made exclusively from quality single malts from the Speyside region of Scotland, with whisky from the distilleries of Cardhu and Glendullan at its heart.
He moved the excellent Something Special 12 and 15 YO Blends out of Asia into South America, where it rose immediately to No 1, later settling as No 3.
In Edgar’s mind, entertainment was “in” and booze was “out.” He spent $5.6 billion on MCA Inc., the parent company of Universal Studios, which made movies and operated theme parks.
In October 1999, he met with Jean-Marie Messier, the blustery top manager at Vivendi, the French water and utility firm. He too was a fixated entertainment hound. They formed a dubious bond that would on December 8, 2000, result in the ill-fated union of Seagram and Vivendi.
Edgar trading the family’s controlling stake in Seagram for what amounted to less than 9% of Vivendi and the two giant companies evolved into a single corporate entity, the unholy marriage officially called Vivendi Universal.
In August 2002, Vivendi Universal went bust and Bronfman was on the street, easy picking for Pernod Ricard S.A. of France and Diageo plc of the UK.
Pernod Ricard, at the time the world’s fifth largest beverage alcohol company pledged $3.15 billion while Diageo, the world’s largest drinks company, put up the balance of $5 billion.
Sanction of such a massive joint deal required dual assurances formally presented by each company stating that unfair advantages would not occur in any European, Canadian, or North American market for either company as a result of the deal.
Diageo distanced itself from its closest beverage alcohol competitor, Allied Domecq. Pernod Ricard became a major player in the world’s beverage alcohol ranks, rising to number three in size.
Pernod Ricard already owned Scotland’s respected Aberlour and Edradour malt distilleries and Ireland’s Irish Distillers, producers of Bushmills, Jameson, Redbreast, Powers, and Midleton, but it coveted the big-ticket Scotch whiskies of Chivas Regal, The Glenlivet, and Glen Grant and to lesser degrees the famed cognac house, Martell, as well as the popular American-made gin cash cow, Seagram’s Gin. The Scotch whiskies, especially, Pernod Ricard reasoned, would elevate their global status manifold.
Diageo, uninterested in Scotch because of their impressive existing holdings, wanted Crown Royal, the highly profitable blended Canadian whisky, and Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, one of the hottest brands in North America.
Pernod Ricard decided to maintain Chivas Brothers’ autonomous status, keeping it as a company operating within a company, as Seagram had successfully done for a half-century.
Chivas Brothers is what is known in Pernod Ricard as a Brand Owner, and oversees their portfolio of Scotch whisky brands globally.
An independent survey on consumer perception about prestige brands was conducted by Synovate, a global research firm, in early 2003. Chivas Regal placed first in brand recognition in the United States, Brazil, France, Spain, Canada, and Singapore and was listed as “most prestigious” in Germany and Russia.
Daftmill Distillery, a Lowland single malt Scotch whisky distillery is one of the very few (conceivably the only) truly self-sufficient distillery in Scotland.
Aultmore, meaning ‘big burn’in Gaelic was founded by Alexander Edward in 1896 and production commenced 24th May 1897.
Edward had already helped establish Craigallachie in 1891 and he had been bequeathed Benrinnes by his father just then.
He chose the location for Aultmore in the heartlands of Speyside, along the banks of the Burn of Auchinderran, known as the Foggie Moss Burn, long an area renowned for its illicit stills. Remote and sparsely populated, it was a perfect haven for smugglers’ ‘bothies’
. At the time, Scotland was in the midst of the biggest whisky boom it had seen for years as Scotch ﬁlled a gap in the market left by cognac after the region’s vines had been decimated by Phylloxera. As soon as production started at Aultmore in 1897 its spirit was immediately in demand.
Within a year production was doubled and Alexander Edward continued his enterprising streak, establishing Benromach distillery, Dallas Dhu distillery and taking control of Oban, as the head of the Oban & Aultmore-Glenlivet Co.
Much of Aultmore’s inial output was purchased by the resourceful Pattison brothers.
Originally dairy farmers from Edinburgh, they had started blending whisky until 1896, when they launched their own brand of whisky under Pattison Ltd.
As the brothers continued to achieve spectacular success, they acquired half the shares in Glenfarclas disllery and substanal interests in Oban and Aultmore dislleries. Investors and banks oﬀered huge overdrafts to the brothers and whilst the boom continued, the credit stretched on.
Aultmore underwent its ﬁrst upgrade, turning from its waterwheel to a 10-horsepower steam engine which ran for 70 years and can still be seen at the distillery.
Unfortunately for Aultmore, the Pattison Company’s success was short-lived as the whisky industry moved into sharp downturn.
Whisky began to be overproduced, going from an annual stock of 2 billion gallons to 13 billion. The inevitable crash of their business occurred at the end of 1898 but such was its reach and inﬂuence by then that it took nine companies and several smaller suppliers with it. Aultmore disllery was among the casualties
Some sources say that Aultmore was forced to shut its doors in 1899, just two years after it had begun production. While this is not the case, production was reduced between 1899 and 1903 when it fell under the patronage of Oban & Aultmore Glenlivet Dislleries Ltd.
However, the resumption in full production proved short-lived with the outbreak of World War I forcing distilleries to halt production due to barley shortages.
When it was once again able to reopen its doors in 1923, Alexander Edward had had enough and de-cided to sell to John Dewar & Sons for £20,000. This sale suggests that Aultmore may have already been an important part of the Dewar blends at this time.
Just two short years after the purchase, Dewars, forced by stringent measures (Prohibition was in full swing in America), merged with John Walker & Co., James Buchanan & Co. and the Distillers Company Limited, operating collectively under the latter’s name, though transferred to the subsidiary Scottish Malt Distillers in 1930.
Aultmore continued under Scottish Malt Distillers’ stewardship for years, making incremental changes until the 1960s. The distillery has its own railway siding from the branch line which bought in coal to fuel the steam engine which powered the mill and pumps.
Under the radical 1960s railway reforms of Dr Beeching, Aultmore was forced to move from steam power to electricity in 1969, ﬁnally abandoning the engine that had worked there for 70 years.
As part of the refurbishment, two more stills were added, (taking their number to four) and doubling production capacity. The ﬂoor maltings were closed with malt sourced from third-party maltsters.
Just after these changes, Aultmore became one of the ﬁrst distilleries to build a dark grains plant for processing pot ale and draﬀ into cattle feed. This started working in 1977 but closed from 1985 until ‘89, and ﬁnally taken out of producon in 1993.
A 12 year-old Aultmore single malt was released in 1991 as part of United’s Flora & Fauna range, and in 1996 a 21 year-old cask strength was released under the ‘Rare Malts’ brand. Change was then again visited upon Aultmore when, in 1997, United Distillers Group merged with its rival Grand Metropolitan to form what we know today as Diageo.
The authorities deemed that the new company held too great a monopoly on the whisky industry; Diageo was forced to sell some of its whisky distilleries and brands including Aultmore, Aberfeldy, Craigallechie and Royal Brackla as part of John Dewar and Son’s and the Dewar’s blend. Together with Bombay Sapphire Gin, the package of dislleries and brands was snatched up by Bacardi for £1.15 billion.
Aultmore has seen subtle changes since the takeover, including the 2002 installation of a larger, state-of-the-art Steinecker full lauter mash tun. The whisky is still used predominantly as part of the Dewar blends, including White Label, one of the lower-end bestselling blended Scotch in the United States.
In 2004 Barcardi released a 12 year old oﬃcial Aultmore single malt bottling. This 12 year old bottling was updated in 2014 with a 21 and 25 year old bottlings also released (January 2014).
The Cuthbert brothers who own the site have long grown malting barley. These days a small percentage of the crop (around 100 tons) is diverted for their own use. The process water comes from their own artesian well, and the draff produced after mashing is then fed to their prize beef herd.
Only 20,000 litres is produced during two x three month seasons, one starting after the end of the busy spring period on the farm and stopping before harvest, the other during the fallow winter period between November and February.
Only in 2003 did the idea of whisky making formed in the minds of Francis Cuthbert and his brother Ian. They converted three of their buildings into a distillery in 2003 and were granted their licence two years later, making it the first member of the now burgeoning small-scale distilling movement in Scotland.
Harvested from the farm’s Dam Park and Curling Pond fields on 31st August 2004, the Chariot barley was among the last to be malted in Fife by Robert Kilgour & Co before they closed.
Their first release was in 2018, followed by small two-season releases every year. The 2018 release was drawn from the first casks from the Kingdom of Fife’s first new distillery for more than 100 years.
It’s called rare. Rarer than rocking horse shit.
The 2018 12 Years Old release comes from 1st fill Bourbon casks; 629 bottles at 55.8% ABV.
Daftmill 2006 13 YO Single Cask 043/2006 (Ralfy x The Good Spirits Co.) release in 2019 was a 54.8% ABV in honour of YouTube whisky analyst Ralfy, seen at Ralfy.com/
Absolut, the Swedish vodka exploded in popularity due primarily to a now-legendary print ad campaign of its day and kept their ads more contemporary and relevant creative than Chivas. In short, an important factor in the decline of Chivas Regal.
In October 2003, Pernod Ricard/Chivas Brothers launched the first step in a long-range marketing strategy by unleashing a new electronic media and print advertising campaign, themed “This Is the Chivas Life.”
The “Chivas Life” campaign ran in 50 nations in 2004, including the pivotal markets of the United States, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Australia, South Africa, Brazil, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Germany, Holland, and Hungary.
Global sales of Chivas Regal in 2003 reflected the commitment of its parent company, by rising 6.5 %. With Chivas Regal available in over 150 countries, the first half of 2004 worldwide sales of Chivas Regal were even better, jumping a solid 9.0 %.
Archrival Glenfiddich became the world’s overall number one single malt Scotch whisky (775,000 cases sold globally in 2003), vs The Glenlivet with slightly less than 400,000 cases sold in 2003.
Chivas Brothers relaunched The Glenlivet in late summer of 2004 with the theme, “The Single Malt That Started It All.”
Chivas Regal 18 YO Blended Scotch Whisky is rated higher than Royal Salute.
Colin Scott, Master Blender, Chivas Brothers Ltd. says:”With malt Scotch whisky being the original whisky of Scotland, and with its origins shrouded in the mists of time, there was great excitement, and even perhaps concerns, when grain Scotch whisky was introduced in the early 1830s.”
The success of blended Scotch is due to the skills and passions involved in selecting the finest malt and grain whiskies that make up and deliver the unique taste of each blend. Many of the malt whiskies used in blending are famous single malts in their own right, and this is the fascinating part, these single malts and the blended Scotches thrive together, not only preserving, but also growing the welfare of the Scotch whisky industry.
I think the above was applicable only till 1990 or thereabouts. Today, the quality of casks used and their treatment have the greatest influence on maturation.
Yesterday's Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 Years Old Blended Scotch Whisky had Cardhu as its core malt, backed up with the super-smooth Glenkinchie, Dalwhinnie, Glen Elgin, Linkwood, Teaninich, the multi-faceted Cragganmore, Clynelish, Dailuaine, Talisker and Caol Ila (unpeated).
Today, the recognisable Single Malts are Clynelish, Cardhu, Caol Ila, Glenkinchie, Dalwhinnie and Talisker. Mortlach, Linkwood and Dailuaine are lost to posterity. The overall quality has dipped a lot.
The slightly smoky taste comes from the Cragganmore and Talisker. The hint of peat comes primarily from Talisker, Caol Ila(unpeated), strengthened by Clynelish and Benrinnes; the smoothness comes from Cardhu, Glenkinchie, Blair Athol and the 3-4 Grain Whiskies from Cameronbridge that are used to tame and meld the malts perfectly.
The turn of the millennium saw a trend towards peated and smoky whiskies. Using the Black Label as a baseline, peat and smoky single malts were introduced to the mix, while removing quite a few standard single malts. Strongly influenced by powerful West Coast and Island whiskies, Johnnie Walker Double Black is best enjoyed with a teaspoon of water to unlock its complex layers of smouldering spice and smoke.
In the annual International Whisky Competition 2016, Johnnie Walker Double Black Label was awarded the Gold Medal in the Best Blended Scotch NAS (No Age Statement) category with 94 points, ahead of Johnnie Walker Blue Label (91.3 pts). JWBL managed only the Bronze Medal in the Best Blended Scotch Whisky 12 YO category with 89.8 points.
That kills the Double Black vs Black Label controversy! That also confirms that Johnnie Walker Black Label is no longer the bar for premium Blended Scotch Whisky.
JW Double Black has an easier structure compared to Black Label, with important differences. The number of Single Malts and Grain Whiskies has reduced. It primarily uses the well-peated Talisker 10 YO and Caol Ila 12 YO, with the lightly peated Cragganmore, Clynelish 14 YO and Benrinnes in support.
One or two Single Malts have been replaced. Single Malt from the new distillery at Roseisle that opened in 2006 produces 7-8 m litres a year (designed for 10 million litres), and a fair share of young malts join the group.
The most common containers of whisky were the 10-gallon (45.5L) ankers. Along with the Drumin Glenlivet, two other brands had a solid reputation: the top-quality malt whiskies Underwood and Kippen.
During the 13-week period January 7 to April 1, 1826, George Smith produced a total of 904 gallons of whisky, slightly more than 69.5 gallons on average per week.
In 1826, Aberlour Distillery, operated by James Gordon and Peter Weir, became fully licensed and George Smith’s neighbour William Grant opened Aucherachan Distillery in Glenlivet.
All Single Malts in JWDBL are 8 YO and more, with a few drops of a couple of smoky peated Single Malts added: probably Caol Ila 8 YO and Lagavulin 8 YO. Peated whiskies are more expensive than non-peated expressions.
Smugglers in the eighteenth century and early nineteenth usually travelled in large caravans, called “pony trains,” sometimes brazenly right in the open.
A report on smuggling dated 1790, “. . . travelling in bands of fifty, eighty or a hundred and a hundred and fifty horses remarkably stout and fleet [having] the audacity to go in this formidable manner in the open day.
Both male and female smugglers concealed pig bladders filled with whisky beneath drapes of clothing as a means of transport.
Others went to extraordinary lengths like staging fake funeral processions in which smugglers used empty coffins to transport gallons of whisky right in front of suspicious gaugers. Though tempted to halt the processions, the gaugers were frequently too wary to stop the “mourners” for fear of instant reprisals from the locals.
Sympathetic justices of the peace, like the infamous Auchorachan Justice William Grant, who was known as the “Cripple Captain” because of his wooden leg, frequently let off those who were arrested and brought before them by gaugers. For good reason. Local magistrates like the Cripple Captain were often themselves either smugglers or good customers.
Writer John Wilson depicted Tomintoul at the height of the smuggling era as “a wild mountain village where drinking, dancing, swearing and quarrelling went on all the time.”
Wilson also thought that the whisky from Glenlivet was the finest he had ever tasted.
Glenlivet, 14 miles long and 6 miles wide, was the most highly favored location in the Highlands for smugglers. It was believed that two hundred small stills were operated there.
One nineteenth-century Glenlivet admirer by the name of James Hogg waxed, “The human mind never tires o’ Glenlivet. . . . If a body could find oot the exac’ proportion and quantity that ought to be drunk every day and keep to that, I verily trow that he might leeve for ever, without dying at a,’ and that doctors and kirkyards [churchyard cemeteries] would go oot o’ fashion.”
Though a report in the London Scotsman on September 19, 1868, described George as “a smuggler of the smugglers,” no unambiguous evidence exists to support or deny George’s Smith’s involvement with illicit distilling during his youth.
in 1816 George had a daughter, Helen, out of wedlock. The parish clerk did not record the name of the mother. The child’s fate remains unknown.
The deeply held beliefs of Alexander Gordon, the 4th Duke of Gordon and the owner of Upper Drumin and many other properties scattered throughout Banffshire, Inverness-shire, and Aberdeenshire, influenced George’s thinking.
He promised, in the House of Lords in London, that if the Government would expand upon the legislation of 1816 and 1818 and make it more favourable for illicit distillers to become legitimate, then he and his fellow landowners would undertake to uphold the law as diligently as they could, and evict anyone convicted of illicit distilling.
In 1822, according to the Scotch Whisky Industry Record, there were 4,867 smuggling-related prosecutions, a huge increase over the wild days of the 1780s and 1790s when a laissez-faire attitude ruled.
During a much ballyhooed royal visit to Scotland in August 1822, word got out that George IV, King of Great Britain had become smitten with whisky, in particular, the highly respected illicit variety produced in or around Glenlivet.
Elizabeth Grant in her period tome Memoirs of a Highland Lady 1797–1830, wrote “The whole country went mad. One incident connected with this time made me very cross. Lord Conyngham, the Chamberlain, was looking everywhere for pure Glenlivet whisky; the King drank nothing else. It was not to be had out of the Highlands. My father sent word to me—I was the cellerar—to empty my pet bin, where was whisky long in wood, long in uncorked bottles, mild as milk, and the true contraband gout in it. Much as I grudged this treasure it made our fortunes afterwards, showing on what trifles great events depend.”
The JWDBL brand costs $5-8 (12-20%) more than JW Black Label (non-discounted). In Bangkok, however, they cost the same.
As with all independent bottlings produced by Elixir Distillers, Port Askaig is non-chill-filtered and is free of added colour.
The most popular Scotch Whisky in Scotland for the last 42 years is The Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky.
Matthew Joseph Gloag and his lady love and wife-to-be, Margaret Brown were both born in 1797. They wed in 1817.
Matthew gained employment at the age of eighteen for a fixed period of 20 years in the office of the Sheriff Clerk of Perthshire in 1815 to manage their cellar that was used to stock and then sell off or auction/ seized/ impounded/confiscated/expropriated liquor, mainly whisky, gin and illicit hooch. Contacts made thereby were to prove very useful later in his fortunes.
This job gave him access to Scone Palace- a mile and a half away and famous for housing The Stone of Destiny - and even some work therein.
Macallan is an excellent example of the significance of size on whisky character. It is a large producer certainly, but its spirit stills are small (3,900 litres). This is a major contributing factor to the rich and oily nature of its new make.
Even with an extremely tight (i.e. small) cut there is little time for copper to do its lightening job on spirit vapour in tiny stills the lyne arms of which are acutely angled. The opposite applies to maturation, however, where the balance between large and small is more fully revealed.
The heavy new make then goes into large, predominantly 500-litre ex-Sherry casks (made of both European and American oak).
A large surface-to-volume ratio means that maturation will take longer – Macallan, it is widely agreed, hits its stride fully in its mid-teens.
Matthew's brother, William Joseph Gloag, took up a job as an ironmonger.
Margaret's father, Joseph John Brown had set up a grocery in Perth in 1800 and in 1807, moved into Perth City Towncentre at 22 Atholl Street.
He died in 1824 and Margaret took over. She added a snuff line and, with her husband's backing and expertise, a winery to her grocery in 1831.
As a grocer, Brown was also a wine and spirits merchant, selling a variety of luxury goods as well as wines from France and legally distilled Malt whisky supplied by known distillers.
Brown did well enough to be able to move into the Towncentre at 22 Atholl Street in seven years.
They had four sons, and two daughters. Their nephew, William's son, was named...Matthew! Matthew Gloag II. This Gloag would show little interest in the liquor business and remain on the fringe till his untimely death in 1858.
In fact, he is usually totally overlooked and often, Matthew Gloag III, the grandson of Matthew the founder, is (wrongly) called "Matthew Gloag II."
Every generation since has had a Matthew Gloag associated with the brand in one capacity or another, with an indisposed Matthew Gloag VI (1947-) the latest.
A heavy new make will also require longer in cask to lose any vestigial sulphurous notes.
The nature of the extractives in the European oak (higher levels of tannin, powerful clove and resinous aromas) also needs a heavy spirit to achieve balance. American oak, on the other hand, adds and enhances sweetness.
No colour adjustment takes place at Macallan, meaning that each vatting needs to not only replicate the previous one in terms of aroma and taste, but must hit the same hue, despite every cask having a different tint. It is this understanding of the way in which colour is an indication of character which was behind whisky-maker Bob Dalgarno’s creation of the ‘1824 Range’ in 2013.
Matthew Gloag, the founder, was an outgoing and likeable person and had become adept at the liquor business, creating a pocketbook full of contacts. He joined Margaret in 1835 after his stint of a mandatory 20 years in the Sheriff Clerk's office and changed the business’ name to Matthew Gloag & Co.
His first contribution was the addition of a liquor portfolio to the business, mainly Blended Malt whisky, or perhaps its consolidation, using his contacts across the Highland distilleries of Scotland, gaining in reputation for quality provisions, liquor and professionalism topped off with affability.
In 1842, Matthew Gloag started his upward journey in life with the award of the much sought after contract to supply provisions, wines and liquor to the local Earl at Scone Palace (where he had contacts from his earlier days) when the Earl hosted Queen Victoria and Prince Albert on their first visit to Scotland. Business prospered after this path-breaking success of 1842.
The Forbes-Mackenzie Act on vatting of whiskies when in a bonded warehouse was passed in 1853.
A larger variety of blended malts were now available to vendors to sell. Matthew’s business card showed him as an importer of wines and spirits as well as an agent for Schweppes Soda and whisky in Bond.
The truly strong blended malts (64.5-65.3% ABV) were drunk with soda.
Port Askaig is a curated collection of single malts distilled on Islay and bottled under the Port Askaig brand.
Although every distillery on Islay has its own character, London-based Elixir Distillers has selected parcels of what it believes to be the most balanced single malt whisky on the island to bottle as Port Askaig.
Bob Dalgarno, The Macallan Whisky Maker, created four expressions by identifying the natural colour formed during maturation in different casks types to create the character informed by these colours.
The expressions are Gold, Amber, Sienna and Ruby, all names reflecting the actual colour of the whiskies in the range, but also describing naturally occurring mineral and metals.
The casks chosen for the range deliver a gradation of colour from light to dark, with the wood character defining each expression’s flavour, moving from lighter, lemon citrus to richer, dried fruit notes. As the whiskies become darker and richer, so the pool of casks able to deliver this character becomes smaller and rarer.
The Macallan Gold (RRP £36), The Macallan Amber (RRP £45), The Macallan Sienna (RRP £66) and The Macallan Ruby (RRP £120) will be available at selected whisky retailers.
In Australia, RRPs for the 700ml series are murderously high; The Macallan 1824 Amber, A$105 per bottle, The Macallan 1824 Sienna, A$160 per bottle and The Macallan 1824 Ruby, A$220 per bottle.
Port Askaig is named after the first port of call for visitors to the island as they come across on the mainland ferry.
Its range is currently available in six different individually batched expressions – an eight- 15-, 19-year-old, Cask Strength, 30- and 45-year-old, plus the no-age statement 100 Proof.
The brand offers a variety of flavours and whisky styles from across the island, although Islay’s signature smoky, maritime character, as well as fruity and citrus notes, are inherent to the range.
Rathohall Lowland Single Malt Scotch Whisky distillery, also known as Ratho, was a Midlothian distillery established near Edinburgh in the 1820s.
The distillery was at Kirkton Farm, which still appears on modern maps, a short distance from the canal. A small burn in the vicinity would likely have supplied Rathohall with water.
The distillery was licensed to Colin Morison sometime in the early 1820s. Morison was sequestrated in 1826 and Rathohall was left silent for several years. In 1829 the licence passed to Buchan & Co., which distilled on the site until its closure in 1837.
Reliance Blended Scotch whisky was produced by Perth’s Forbes, Farquharson & Company.
The Reliance blend was most widely available as a no age statement bottling, which at its height reached as far as Australia. A variety of expressions were released, including a 20-year-old blend during the 1960s/70s.
The company and brand both became part of Arthur Bell & Sons (and later Guinness) at some point prior to the 1970s.
Reliance continued to be produced until the 1980s, when it was discontinued. Forbes Farquharson & Company was liquidated in 1991.
Triple distillation at Talisker was stopped in 1928. It has been a mystery ever since as to what style was made, but Diageo’s boffins believe it could explain the unusual configuration of the stills – two wash stills and three spirit.
Talisker has retained the five still set-up and continues to produce a highly individual new make which mixes smoke, fruit, sulphur, salt and pepper. The malt is medium-peated, the worts clear, the fermentation long. It is in distillation that things go slightly strange.
The wash stills are very tall with an exaggerated U-shaped bend in the lyne arm with a purifier pipe at its lowest point. This refluxes any heavy elements back into the body of the still to be redistilled. After rising up the ‘U’, the lyne arm coils itself inside cold worm tubs.
While there is a lot of reflux taking place, there is little copper contact which provides the sulphury notes in the new make, and could give the signature pepperiness in the mature spirit. The purifier pipe adds oiliness, while the reflux helps to refine the fruity elements created during fermentation.
In contrast to most distilleries where the spirit stills are the workhorses, at Talisker the second distillation takes place in small plain stills, again with worm tubs. This adds mid-palate weight.
Maturation is in refill and rejuvenated casks with ex-fortified wine casks being used for the Distiller’s Edition and Port Ruighe expressions and occasional special releases.
Talisker’s founders, brothers Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill were classic Clearance landlords.
Having bought the tack [rent] of Talisker House on Skye and extensive lands in 1825, they set about forcibly shifting the resident population from their farms, either to new settlements at Carbost and Portnalong on the shores of Loch Harport and Portnalong, or off the island entirely.
As well as replacing subsistence farmers with more profitable sheep, another of the MacAskill’s money-making schemes was distilling.
In 1830, they opened their Talisker distillery in Carbost using the cleared populace as its workforce.
Their venture into whisky-making was not a success and by 1848 the bank was in control.
For the next three decades Talisker stumbled through a series of other owners who found it hard to keep afloat a distillery which is remote even by 21st century standards.
In 1857, the Bank sold the distillery to Donald MacLennan for GBP 500.
MacLennan found it hard to cope with and put it on the market. Glasgow’s Anderson and Sons bought it in 1863.
Anderson was jailed for fraud in 1879 and the distillery was on the market again.
In 1880, Talisker’s fortunes changed when Roderick Kemp and Alexander Allen bought the distillery and proceeded to expand the site and construct a distillery pier – until then all the casks had to be floated out to waiting ships.
Kemp sold his share in 1892 in order to buy Macallan and on Allen’s death in 1895, his business partner Thomas Mackenzie took charge and three years later Talisker was formally merged with Dailuaine (and Imperial).
The Dailuane-Talisker Distillery Co. was founded then.
When Mackenzie himself died in 1916, a grouping of major blenders, John Walker & Sons, John Dewar, W.P. Lowrie, and DCL took control, an indication as to the quality of the spirit.
Talisker has remained within the same grouping (the firms all merged and eventually morphed into Diageo).
In 1960, the distillery burned down and was silent until 1962 while it was being rebuilt. A decade later the maltings closed and the distillery began getting its requirements from Glen Ord.
Talisker had long been available as single malt from independents such as Gordon & MacPhail, and also officially, predominantly as an eight-year-old.
In 1998, it was given greater prominence as a founding member of the Classic Malts Selection when the age was upped to 10 years.
An 18-year-old joined the range in 2004, but since 2008 the range has expanded dramatically with a no-age-statement quartet: 57˚North, Storm, Dark Storm and Port Ruighe. It is now one of Diageo’s most important single malt brands.
Charles Barnard’s book on his travel around distilleries is available at https://whiskipedia.com/barnard/dundashill/
Gallowhill Distillery was a Lowland single malt scotch whisky, a here-and-gone Paisley distillery, open from 1798 to 1799.
Gallowhill was run by a partnership of James MacFarlane and Elizabeth Harvie, very probably related to the Harvies who operated Dundashill and Yoker distilleries in Glasgow.
Dundashill Distillery is built on the side of a steep hill, the extensive buildings and premises covering five acres of ground. Some of the buildings in connection with the distillery are of a great height, the top of one of them forming the highest point in Glasgow, and from which a splendid view can be obtained.
Immediately below lies spread out the City of Glasgow, giving one a good idea of the magnitude of the commercial Metropolis of Scotland, and claimed to be the second City of the Empire; a city which, unlike many others, has a history to boast of, dating from the remotest times, when elsewhere trade was unknown.
Highland Nectar also had a distinctive triangular decanter-shaped bottle, and came to be sold in two expressions: Rare Old Whisky (~8 YO) and Deluxe 12 year-old, at 43% ABV.
Highland Nectar was marketed by the Distillers Agency Ltd, set up as an export branch for the Distillers Company Ltd (DCL) soon after it was founded in 1877 out of six whisky firms including John Haig & Co.
It was a separate company with its own blending, bottling and warehousing in South Queensferry, and officially incorporated in 1924.
As an entity it was still going in 1983, when Philip Morris recorded its address in his Schweppes Guide to Scotch as 13 Maritime Street in Leith.
Its brands included Highland Nectar and King George IV, which were both trademarked around 1880-90.
Highland Nectar was produced solely as an export brand, and continued to be sold until at least the 1960s.
Named after a giant Scottish warship – that was sold to the French after just two years of being built – Black Ship blended Scotch was introduced almost 450 years after its demise.
Available as a no-age-statement and five-year-old, Black Ship was a blend of ‘a good quantity’ of Highland and Island malt whiskies and grain whisky, described as being ‘smooth and mellow’ with a ‘touch of smokiness on the finish’.
The Great Michael, also known as the Black Ship, was the most famous Scottish battleship of the early 16th century. It was completed in 1512 having consumed every wood in Fife during construction, and was the largest warship in Europe – twice the size of her English contemporary, the Mary Rose.
The Black Ship soon proved too expensive to maintain. She was sold at a knockdown price to the French crown in 1514 (and quite possibly used under a French pseudonym to sink the Mary Rose in the Battle of the Solent).
In the 1990s, Dutch drinks group Marussia Beverages introduced Black Ship blended Scotch whisky alongside a handful of other blended Scotch brands.
In 2013 the company established Mossburn Distillers, which was tasked with overseeing the group’s plans to establish distilleries in Skye, the Borders and Japan.
As such, focus was centred on the new projects and Black Ship – along with Marussia’s other Scotch blends – was discontinued. That’s not to say it won’t resurface in the distant future.
With its 3 Star and 5 Star versions, Crawford’s was once a very popular blend in Scotland. Its 3 Star version is still going.
Crawford’s 3 Star was appreciated as an honest, good value blend with a crisp grain-heavy freshness and beguiling wisp of smoke.
With its cheap, clear glass bottle and plain label you could say it was a triumph of substance over style. It certainly wasn’t over-packaged in the domestic market where it has become increasingly rare.
A smarter version resembling Ballantine’s has been used for export, while its deluxe version, Crawford’s 5 Star – which was sometimes bottled as a 12-year-old – has been discontinued.
Its owner, A&A Crawford, also bottled Crawford’s Special Reserve.
On a clear day, a magnificent panorama of hills can be seen to the west and north, including Goatfell in Arran, Ben Lomond, Ben Ledi, and Ben Lawers. Ben An and Ben Venue are also visible, whose base rises from Loch Katrine, the lake from which is obtained the supply of water for Glasgow.
The business was founded in the year 1770 by John Harvey (grandfather of the present proprietors), who was one of the first three licensed Distillers in Scotland.
Dundashill may claim to be one of the very first distilleries established in Glasgow.
There were several Granaries, containing upwards of 20,000 quarters of fine barley.
The barley is elevated from the level of the wharves and railway sidings in front of the Distillery, a height of about sixty feet, and from there distributed to the various conveniently arranged Granaries.
The Steeps, which are four in number, are situated immediately below the Granaries, and are each capable of wetting 1,600 bushels of barley per week.
The barley is run into them from the Granaries by means of iron shoots, and the Malt-barns being constructed on lower levels than the Steeps, the entire malting process is conducted by gravitation, thus saving an immense amount of labour.
These Barns were four in number, varying in extent from 1,200 to 1,600 square yards, and some idea of their enormous size may be estimated from the fact that they cover a total area of 6,000 square yards, and give ample floor room for the 6,400 bushels of barley malted weekly.
Four Kilns are attached to the Barns, covering over 900 square yards; one of them is a plate floored Kim, and the other three wire cloth.
The malt is dried with peat or coke according to the flavour required.
Immediately adjoining the Kilns are sheds capable of stowing 1000 tons of peat.
. The peat used is of the best quality that can be procured, and come from various parts of the Highlands.
The Malt-deposits immediately adjoin the Kilns, and command the Mill-hopper, which is situated above a very powerful set of rollers, from which the crushed malt is conveyed by an elevator to the grist 10ft situated in the Mash House.
This is the first building more particularly connected with the manufacture of whisky, and at first sight the multiplicity of pipes, pumps, brewing tanks, mash tuns and refrigerators are somewhat confusing, but on further inspection, it was found that they are admirably arranged for the purposes for which they are intended.
The Mash Tuns are two in number, one being 23 feet in diameter, the other 20 feet, their total capacity being 30,000 gallons, and are fitted with the usual revolving stirring machine, only in this case by a clever arrangement the driving power comes from below, which gives the whole apparatus a light and neat appearance, thus doing away with cumbrous beams and shafting, so prominent where the power is got from above.
The grist and the hot water used for mashing meet in the mashing machines, and run in a stream into the Mash Tuns.
This not only avoids loss, but prevents the spread of the dust all over the Mash House, a source of discomfort, as well as risk of danger from fire.
After more hot liquor has been added, and the whole has been mashed or mixed up by the afore mentioned revolving stirring machine, it is allowed to settle for some time, so that the saccharine may be thoroughly extracted from the malt.
The liquor (technically termed wort) is then drained off through the strainers, or false bottoms in the Mash Tuns, into the Worts receiver, and the grain thus left behind is called “draff” in Scotland, but known in England as grains.
The system of gravitation so largely adopted in this distillery, and which is greatly facilitated by its situation on the side of a hill, is most advantageously utilised in the removal of the draff, or grains, from the Mash Tuns.
These vessels are supported on massive stone arches forming the roof of a spacious Draff house, which, being directly underneath, allows the draff to he quickly and expeditiously removed through the openings in the bottom of the Mash Tuns.
The draff is sold to farmers and cowfeeders in the neighbourhood of Glasgow.
The liquor immediately passes through two Morton’s Refrigerators, and is pumped into the Wash-backs in the Tun room which adjoins the Mash-house.
There are nine vessels, varying in capacity from 16,000 to 24,000 gallons.
A certain quantity of yeast having been added, the process of fermentation commences, which occupies about two days, converting the saccharine matter in the worts, into alcohol.
Notwithstanding the ample capacity of the tuns, or backs, the fermentation from the pure malt is so brisk that what are called switchers, are required to prevent loss by the overflow; these switchers are driven by an engine situated in the Tun-room.
Overhead are still in existence the old air coolers used before the introduction of the Morton’s Refrigerators, and it is from this point that the magnificent view referred to can be obtained.
In the Tun-room what is called - the brewing process terminates, and immediately thereafter, the distilling part of the manufacture begins.
On the fermentation being completed the fermented liquor, now termed “wash” is run down from the tuns or wash backs to the wash chargers in the Still houses, which are situated on a lower level than the Tun-room.
Hawick Distillery is another here-and-gone distillery in its namesake town that operated briefly in 1818-19.
Hawick distillery was licensed to William Ainslie & Co. from 1818 to 1819. After its closure, Ainslie became a bookbinder and librarian, then in the late 1820s emigrated with his family to South Africa and became a farmer.
Two sources place it in Commercial Road, beside the River Teviot, while one source places it in Slitrig Crescent, beside the Slitrig Burn at the long-gone Distillery House Mill.
The first option seems the more accurate, as Distillery House Mill was apparently named after some early 1700s distillers, possibly illicit, at that site.
Distillery House Mill has a place in history: the great Scots woollens and fashion firm Pringle had its earliest premises there.
Also from Hawick came the Usher family, who founded Glen Sciennes distillery, and later a big brewery, in Edinburgh, and built the Usher Hall.
The Ileach. Despite its name, this Islay single malt from an unnamed distillery is more at home in Scandinavia.
The Ileach is a young and peaty single malt from an unnamed Islay distillery, available in 40% abv and cask strength (58% ABV) expressions.
Bottled by Highlands & Islands Whisky Co. Ltd, ‘the man from Islay’ is extremely popular in Sweden, where it’s the second best-selling single malt.
Brian Crook established bottling company Vintage Malt Whisky Co. Ltd in 1992 upon leaving Morrison Bowmore Distillers, launching the business with new brands such as Finlaggan and Glenalmond.
The Ileach wasn’t launched until 1997, when Crook created Highlands & Islands Whisky Co. Ltd as a sister company. The single malt’s cask strength expression was introduced three years later, and the brand given a redesign in 2013.
Although every distillery on Islay has its own character, London-based Elixir Distillers has selected parcels of what it believes to be the most balanced single malt whisky on the island to bottle as Port Askaig.
Named after the first port of call for visitors to the island as they come across on the mainland ferry, the range is currently available in six different individually batched expressions – an eight- 15-, 19-year-old, Cask Strength, 30- and 45-year-old, plus the no-age statement 100 Proof.
The brand offers a variety of flavours and whisky styles from across the island, although Islay’s signature smoky, maritime character, as well as fruity and citrus notes, are inherent to the range.
As with all independent bottlings produced by Elixir Distillers, Port Askaig is non-chill-filtered and is free of added colour.
Sukhinder Singh, founder of Speciality Drinks (renamed Elixir Distillers in 2017), opted to bottle what he believed to be the finest malt whiskies from the island under a new brand.
In 2009 Port Askaig was launched, in what was deemed somewhat traditional packaging for the time, in three expressions: Cask Strength, 17- and 25-year old.
The range has since progressed, moving through several limited edition expressions that saw the 30 Year Old discontinued and then reintroduced in 2015.
In the same year an on-going 100 Proof expression was introduced, with a permanent eight-year-old added to the range in 2016.
Sandbank distillery was an early 19th century Argyll distillery that became a world-class racing yacht workshop.
This Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky 19th century distillery stood in the village of Sandbank on the west side of Holy Loch, two to three miles north of Dunoon, between the main (A815) road and the shore. Maps show a small burn flowing into the loch at that point.
Sanderson's Blended Scotch Whisky had many brands. Of all its many guises over the years from Sanderson’s Mountain Dew to Sanderson’s Special Reserve, the name survives as Sanderson’s Gold, which is still sold as a standard Scotch blend in African markets such as Cameroon and the Ivory Coast.
The name is that of William Sanderson, the famous Leith blender who created Vat 69. The Sanderson’s blend has been part of DCL, now Diageo, for almost 90 years.
William Sanderson was one of the second division whisky barons in late Victorian/ Edwardian Edinburgh. His greatest creation, Vat 69 – launched in 1882, had become one of the best-selling blends in post-Prohibition America before his family firm was absorbed by the Distillers Company in 1937.
Sandy Macdonald is an ancient blend from the same stable as Grand Old Parr, whose fans may have included Al Capone.
Sandy Mac, was an old whisky brand from the stable of blender Macdonald Greenlees of Leith. Latterly it was bottled in the same squat ‘crackle decanter’ of dark glass as blends like Robbie Burns and Old Parr.
Though no longer produced, bottles pop up on whisky auction websites and you might spot the odd one gathering dust on the shelves of some liquor store in deepest Latin America.
Older bottles from the 1960s of a standard shape carried the words ‘Pure Malt Distillery – Glendullan Glenlivet’, as Macdonald Greenlees & Williams (Distillers) Ltd had owned Glendullan since 1919.
Seven years later the firm and all its brands, including Sandy MacDonald, were acquired by DCL.
Of all the old blends, Mackie’s Ancient Scotch could be one of the most precious for its link to the mythical Malt Mill distillery.
Peter Mackie owned the Islay distillery of Lagavulin, and was agent for its neighbour, Laphroaig. Losing the contract for Laphroaig after a bitter dispute, he built a replica distillery in the grounds of Lagavulin and called it Malt Mill. It was designed to make precisely the same style of whisky as Laphroaig – a feat it never really achieved.
The whisky produced at Malt Mill disappeared entirely into Mackie’s blends, particularly White Horse. Or did it?
The distillery is named on bottles of Mackie’s Ancient Scotch, although there is no mention of it being a ‘blend’ or ‘blended’… could it contain single malt from Malt Mill?
Mackie’s Ancient Scotch bottles mention Malt Mill beneath the brand owner, White Horse Distillers Ltd.
The bottling for the US market, called Mackie’s Ancient Brand, does not.
Assuming they are the same whisky, it must date from some time between 1908 when Malt Mill was fired into life, and 1962 when it closed for good.
Whisky writer Serge Valentin has described Mackie’s Ancient Brand as ‘the peatiest blend I have ever tried,’ and speculated that ‘there was quite possibly more than 50% Malt Mill’ in the blend.
The White Horse blend was launched in 1890.
Fettercairn is a traditional distillery in the foothills of the wild Cairngorm Mountains and was once owned by the father of a British Prime Minister. One of the main attractions of Laurencekirk, the village nearest to Fettercairn, is a huge, ostentatious red sandstone archway spanning the road that commemorates the visit to the village of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1861.
It is set-up with an open-topped mash tun (producing cloudy wort), wooden washbacks and small stills. There are even soap grinders on the sides of the wash stills. These would have been used to add non-perfumed soap as a surfactant to stop the stills boiling over.
Everything points to a firm, quite heavy, nutty style, accentuated between 1995 and 2009, when the condensers were made of stainless steel. This added a slightly burnt, pot ale character to the new make.
However, a quirky cooling ring attached to the top of the swan neck, which sprays cold water down the sides of the still, aids reflux and helps the spirit lean toward a lighter style.
Fettercairn was founded in 1825 by the local landowner Alexander Ramsay, who then sold his estate, distillery and all, in 1830 to John Gladstone, father of four-time British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone.
The Gladstone family were hands-off owners, allowing the distillery to be run by tenants. They retained ownership until 1923.
It caught fire and was damaged in 1887.
A short period (mostly in mothballs) under the control of Ross & Coulter ended when Fettercairn was sold to Associated Scottish Distilleries (ASD, the Scotch arm of National Distillers of America which, at its height, owned Bruichladdich, Glenury Royal, Glen Esk, Glenlochy, Benromach and Strathdee).
When ASD ceased trading in 1954, its estate was split up and Fettercairn ended up in private hands.
Its new owner, Tom Scott Sutherland, had the distillery until 1971, when it was bought by Tomintoul-Glenlivet; from there it joined Whyte & Mackay.
Although mainly a contributor to the firm’s blends, it has long been bottled as a single malt.
A more concerted effort started in 2009 when a range of aged variants and a pair of no-age bottlings, Fior and Fasque (the name of the Fettercairn estate), was released.
In 2018 Fettercairn was relaunched by Whyte & Mackay with a new range of single malts aged between 12 and 50 years old.
Pig’s Nose blended Scotch is as ‘smooth as a pig’s nose’, so the saying goes.
this curious blend first appeared in 1977 in the West Country.
The brand partner of Sheep Dip, what may have started out as a bit of fun ended up being a relatively rich 5-year-old blended Scotch with 40% malt content from Speyside, Islay and the Lowlands combined with Invergordon grain whisky, all matured in first-fill ex-Bourbon casks.
Pig’s Nose was first bottled as a 4-year-old blend in 1977 by a gentleman farmer and publican.
The pub was in Oldbury on Severn, and as the small concern of MJ Dowdeswell & Co Ltd grew it eventually supplied the likes of Fortnum & Mason and entered the market US, Canada and New Zealand markets.
Pig’s Nose, along with its partner Sheep Dip was eventually picked up by Invergordon Distillers, which became a part of Whyte & Mackay following a hostile takeover in 1993.
Come 2005 the brands left Whyte & Mackay with then chief operating officer Alex Nicol, who established Spencerfield Spirits Company in Fife with his wife, Jane.
Pig’s Nose – and Sheep Dip – continued to be blended by Whyte & Mackay master blender Richard Paterson until Spencerfield Spirits was acquired by Ian Macleod Distillers in late 2016.
Diageo’s Roseisle is, with Aisla Bay, part of a new wave which have been specifically designed to produce a range of different characters of spirit.
Six of its seven pairs of stills can switch between stainless steel or standard (copper) shell and tube condensers. If a light grassy spirit is required, long fermentation (in excess of 90 hours) is used, along with slow distillation with air rests, and condensing in the copper condensers.
If a heavy style is needed then the stainless steel condensers will be used. The lack of extended copper ‘conversation’ will add the requisite weight to the spirit.
A nutty (malty) style could also be produced by shortening mashing and fermentation regimes.
The grassy style which is currently produced is different noticeably to that from other Diageo sites such as Glen Ord or Royal Lochnagar.
Diageo building such a large distillery caused some doom-mongers to predict that parent firm Diageo would use Roseisle’s opening as an excuse to close down some of its smaller sites.
It soon became the equivalent of a whisky Death Star or black hole.
Its size, at 10m litres per annum, is smaller than Glenfiddich, and its construction was merely the first stage in a £1bn investment by Diageo in increasing capacity across its estate. Rather than closing anything down, Roseisle ushered in a new era of distillery building.
A biomass plant means it generates much of its own energy, while a heat recovery system allows waste heat from the distillery to help run the maltings at nearby Burghead and across the road at Roseisle.
Its new make strength is 70% ABV.
It took the Chivas brothers James and John two and a half days to walk ~20 miles (30 km) from their farm in Stratythan to Aberdeen.
James Buchanan is inextricably linked with the Black & White blend which he created. Consumers have fond memories of its label, depicting a black ‘Scotty’ dog and a White ‘Westie’.
The first whisky he created was The Buchanan Blend, which was soon snapped up by the London music halls. A year later, he won the contract to exclusively supply the House of Commons.
The Buchanan Blend became so popular with the MPs at Westminster the whisky became known to the public as ‘that House of Commons whisky’.
To appease the masses, Buchanan introduced a new whisky he called House of Commons. Presented in a black bottle with a white label it soon garnered the nickname Black & White, and was officially renamed in 1902.The story goes that Buchanan changed over to the popular image while returning home from a dog show.
At present, the brand is sold only outside the United Kingdom.
The personal creation of Buchanan’s Master Blender Keith Law, this is a whisky with smooth sweetness and fresh and spicy notes on the tongue.
Although born in 1849 in Canada, James Buchanan spent much of his childhood on the Antrim coast of Northern Ireland, where his father was employed as a quarry manager.
He took his first steps in the world of whisky as London-based agent for Charles Mackinlay & Co from 1879.
After a short and unsuccessful career, he fared rather better after forming James Buchanan & Co in 1884, aided by Glasgow blender William Lowrie, who initially provided Buchanan with his bespoke blend.
Just a year after establishing his own company, The Buchanan Blend was being supplied to the Houses of Parliament.
He shared a flair for publicity with fellow would-be whisky barons such as Tommy Dewar, being driven in a red-wheeled carriage, complete with liveried footman.
Like Dewar, he was also quick to see the potential in advertising his whisky, first taking out newspaper adverts in 1887.
Sales grew dramatically on a global basis, with Buchanan establishing what ultimately became known as the Black & White blend as a smooth, refined, well-matured whisky with a relatively high malt content.
The blend required supplies of quality malt whisky to fuel its expansion, and in 1897 James Buchanan & Co Ltd combined with old associates WP Lowrie & Co Ltd to form the Glentauchers-Glenlivet Distillery Company. A distillery was built at Mulben, near the Speyside distilling town of Keith, with production commencing in June 1898.
Buchanan received Royal Warrants to supply whisky to Queen Victoria, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York in 1897 and, when Buchanan & Co became a limited company in 1902, James Buchanan was worth £750,000.
By 1909, his whisky was the best-selling blend in England. This was the year that Johnnie Walker changed over to the colour format for his three brands.
Such was the ongoing success of Buchanan’s business that, in 1915, James Buchanan & Co Ltd merged with John Dewar & Sons Ltd, creating a company ultimately known as Buchanan-Dewar Ltd.
In 1922, the company acquired the Benrinnes-Glenlivet distillery near Aberlour, and by that time it already owned 11 Scottish distilleries, including Port Ellen, Royal Lochnagar, Aultmore, Dalwhinnie and Convalmore. Buchanan-Dewar Ltd became part of the Distillers Company Ltd (DCL) empire in 1925.
An avid race-horse owner and punter, Buchanan’s horses twice won the Epsom Derby and St Leger ‘classics’, with Hurry On landing the 1916 St Leger, while Captain Cuttle took the 1922 Derby and Coronach scored in both the Derby and St Leger of 1926.
He was appointed High Sheriff of Sussex in 1910, and was elected as a member of the Jockey Club in 1927.
James Buchanan became Sir James Buchanan in 1920, then was elevated to the peerage as Baron Woolavington two years later in the New Year’s Honours List.
Officially, the baronetcy was a reward for Buchanan’s undoubtedly extensive charitable activities, but he also allegedly paid £50,000 to Lloyd George’s government in return for his honour.
Buchanan was nothing if not shrewd, however, and reputedly signed his cheque with the name ‘Woolavington’, dating it 02 January – the day after the title was officially to be announced – so that no payment would be made unless the promised baronetcy was forthcoming.
James Bond drinks Black & White in the Ian Fleming novel Moonraker and shares a bottle with Felix Leiter and Quarrel in Pussfella's Bar in the 1962 film Dr. No.
The Buchanan Blend has a strong following in Latin America and the US where it was claimed to be the fastest growing blended Scotch in the lustrum (2010-15).
In 1922, Buchanan’s Deluxe and Special Reserve was presented in a canteen-shaped bottle, the shape of which is said to have been inspired by the water bottles of British soldiers in WWI.
The signature red seal represents Buchanan's personal commitment to quality and the coat of arms meaning "Hence The Brighter Spirit" engraved on the back of the bottle shows that the high quality of product will lift the spirits of all who drink it.
Buchanan’s DeLuxe, Special Reserve, Master and Red Seal blend whiskies were reintroduced in updated packaging in fall 2015. Sales of the Deluxe increased 20% YOY and 8% for the brand globally.
Figures from the Scotch Whisky Association showed the value of Scotch whisky exports fell by £1.1 billion (US$1.5bn) in 2020 to its lowest level in a decade as a result of the pandemic and US‐imposed tariffs. In 2020, exports of Scotch whisky fell by 23% by value to £3.8bn.
2019 Scotch Whisky Brand Champion, Dewar’s, reported a 12.4% decline.
The world’s largest‐selling Scotch, Diageo’s Johnnie Walker blended whisky, plunged by 23.3% to 14.1m cases. Diageo’s J&B and Vat 69 brand also recorded double‐digit drops, while Bell’s returned to growth in 2020 (up by 10.8%).
Pernod Ricard’s Ballantine’s brand saw sales slump by 9.6% after five years of consistent growth, and stablemate Chivas Regal witnessed the biggest decline among the million‐case sellers (down by 28.5%).
Million‐case single malt brands The Glenlivet and Glenfiddich also struggled to increase their sales, despite both brands registering consistent year‐on‐year growth. Glenfiddich’s volumes tumbled by 20.2% and The Glenlivet fell by 7.2%.
Adelphi Distillery Ltd, owned by Donald Houston and Keith Falconer, has its headquarters at Charlestown in Fife, though Houston is laird of the Ardnamurchan Estate in the West Highlands of Scotland, and it is on his land that Adelphi built its own distillery.
The company specialises in single cask bottlings, which are offered without chill-filtration or the addition of colour.
Some 50 casks are bottled each year, and the ‘Fascadale’ name recurs on small-batch bottlings from unspecified island distilleries at a variety of ages.
Adelphi’s Ardnamurchan distillery – opened in 2014 – has the capacity to produce up to 450,000 litres of spirit per year, some of which will eventually make its way into Fascadale and other house expressions.
The toponym Glenmorangie is believed to derive from either Gaelic Gleann Mòr na Sìth "vale of tranquillity" or Gleann Mór-innse "vale of big meadows").
Glenmorangie is a distillery in Tain, Ross-shire, Scotland, that produces single malt Scotch whisky. The distillery is owned by The Glenmorangie Company Ltd, a subsidiary of Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy, whose main product is the range of Glenmorangie single malt whisky.
Glenmorangie is categorised as a Highland distillery and boasts the tallest stills in Scotland at 26 ft 3 in (8.00 m) height, with 16 feet 10.25 inches (5.1372 m) necks.
Alcoholic beverages of one kind or another were produced in and around Tain since the Middle Ages.
The earliest record of the production of alcohol at Morangie Farm is dated 1703.
In the 1730s a brewery was built on the site that shared the farm's water source, the Tarlogie Spring.
A former distillery manager, William Matheson, acquired the farm in 1843 and converted the Morangie brewery to a distillery, equipped with two-second hand gin stills, renaming it later as the Glenmorangie Distillery.
On his demise in 1863, it passed on to his son, John Matheson. In 1887, it was sold to the Maitland brothers and Duncan Cameron and managed by one James Taylor.
After the First World War, the business was sold in 1918 to a partnership between two blending and broking firms, Macdonald & Muir and Durham & Co, soon passing entirely to the former, which used the whisky for blends such as Highland Queen.
Although it was bottled in small quantities from the 1920s, a change of strategy in 1959 saw Glenmorangie revived as a single malt that soon rivalled Glenfiddich as Scotland’s biggest seller.
Tarlogie Springs contains hard water
As the only Highland distillery to use hard water in its production, the Tarlogie Springs are at the heart of Glenmorangie, as this unique, mineral-rich water undoubtedly contributes to the deliciously fresh and delicate character of the spirit.
Once a year, some chocolate malt is added to the mash for use in the firm’s Signet brand – another of the distillery’s many innovations– and its most expensive annual expression.
The tall necks allow a long interaction to take place between alcohol vapour and copper and the new make is decidedly high-toned, i.e. the cut points here are quite high.
In the early days, the distillery produced only one type of new make, part of which was bottled as the 10 YO Original. The remainder of this 10 year old new make was then split into three and finished for two additional years in separate casks.
Sherry cask finished new make would be bottled as Glenmorangie Lasanta, Port cask finished as Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban and Sauternes cask finished as Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or.
Only sixteen men were required to run day to day operations, The Sixteen Men of Tain.
Today, the Glenmorangie Quita Ruban is 14 YO and the Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or NAS.
Glenmorangie's logo is inspired by the Hilton of Cadboll Stone, which was erected near the distillery site in the eighth century. The central seal, the “Signet”, is thought to symbolise the Pictish belief in the interconnectivity of earth, fire and water. For Glenmorangie, it represents the refined complexity of its whiskies.
In 1998, sculptor Barry Grove was commissioned to carve a modern reconstruction of the Hilton of Cadboll slab, which was unveiled near where the original stone was found, at the edge of the village of Hilton.
One of the results of the US-fuelled 1960s whisky boom, GlenAllachie was built in 1967 by Scottish & Newcastle Breweries’ distilling subsidiary, Mackinlays. It is notable for being one of the distilleries designed by William Delmé-Evans who was also behind Macduff, Tullibardine and Jura.
It has only very rarely been seen as a single malt bottling – most notably as part of Chivas Brothers’ Cask Strength series.
In July 2017, Chivas Brothers sold Glenallachie to The GlenAllachie Distillers Company. The ‘a’ was changed to capital A by W. Walker, as had been the case with BenRiach and GlenDronach.
The new owners relaunched GlenAllachie as a distillery known for its ‘big’, fruity malt whisky. Six single cask bottlings were released in April 2018, with GlenAllachie’s first core range of single malts launched in June 2018.
Fairney Glen is an obscure distillery in Aberdeenshire, operating from 1828 to 1830.
Lightness is a characteristic of most of the 1960s distilleries and Glenallachie has been no exception. A malty undertone adds some textural quality to the palate while delicate fruits rise above.
While many sources claim the Famous Grouse story began in 1800, the story of Matthew Gloag & Sons didn’t start with the Gloags at all. Rather, it began with the Browns.
Each year 43 million bottles of The Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky are enjoyed in no less than 94 global markets.
Under the new ownership of the GlenAllachie Distillery Company however fermentation times have been lengthened, lending the GlenAllachie spirit a fruitier and more muscular quality.
Peated runs now account for 20% of production, although peated GlenAllachie won't appear on shelves for a number of years yet.
Matthew Joseph Gloag and his lady love and wife-to-be, Margaret Brown were both born in 1797.
In due course, Matthew gained employment at the age of eighteen in the office of the Sheriff Clerk of Perthshire in 1815 to manage their cellar that was used to stock and then sell off or auction seized/impounded/confiscated/expropriated liquor, mainly whisky, gin and illicit hooch.
Apparently this job gave him access to Scone Palace- a mile and a half away and famous for housing The Stone of Destiny - and even some work therein. Contacts made thereby were to prove very useful later in his fortunes. They wed in 1817. Matthew's brother, William Joseph Gloag, took up a job as an ironmonger.
It is generally believed that Margaret's father, Joseph John Brown had set up a grocery in Perth in 1800 and in 1807, moved into Perth City Towncentre at 22 Atholl Street. He died in 1824 and Margaret took over. She added a snuff line and, with her husband's backing and expertise, a winery to her grocery in 1831. They set up home upstairs.
It is equally plausible that Brown was a wine and spirits merchant who opened a grocery store in Perth in 1800, selling a variety of luxury goods as well as wines from France and Malt whisky, staying away from the whisky distilling business.
Most grocers did indeed sell whisky, which, even otherwise, was a booming illegal trade in that era of rampant illicit distilling. He took great care to sell only legally distilled whiskies which were of far better quality and more expensive, doing well enough to be able to move into the Towncentre at 22 Atholl Street in seven years.
When his daughter Margaret came of age, she helped out in the shop and built up a general idea about wines and whisky. Her husband's expertise would certainly have helped.
The East Monkland Lowland single malt Scotch whisky distillery at Airdrie, Lanarkshire, distilled for five years under two licensees. It appears the distillery stood on what is today Quarry Road beside the North Burn, north of the town centre.
East Monkland was first licensed to James Finlay from 1825-26, then to MacIntyre, MacKay & Co from 1827-30, when it was closed.
Glen Mhor Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky was one of a number of single malts which were being bottled in the late 19th and early 20th century. A small two-still operation, it is now very rarely seen although SMWS and Gordon & MacPhail have, on occasion, bottled it. Bottlings show it to be a big, fat and quite muscular malt with a meaty and lightly smoky undertow.
In 1892, John Birnie, the manager of Glen Albyn (which sat opposite) entered a commercial business partnership with Leith blender Charles Mackinlay. The new distillery was designed by Charles Doig, and located between the Caledonian Canal and the railway giving it superb communication links. In 1920, Mackinlay & Birnie bought Glen Albyn.
Unusually, the distillery remained water-powered until the 1950s and had Saladin maltings installed in 1954.
In 1972, it became a late addition to the DCL portfolio, although it would only remain with the industry giant until 1983 when it was another of Scotland’s smaller stills to close. Three years later it was demolished.
The capital of the Highlands strangely doesn’t have a single distillery.
It re-emerged most recently when it was named as one of the malts in the Mackinlay’s blend which was found entombed in ice under Ernest Shackleton’s hut.
The distillery’s other claim to fame was as the place where Scottish novelist, and author of the polemic Scotland and Whisky, Neil M. Gunn, was first based.
Perhaps taking its inspiration from Johnnie Walker’s famous ‘Black Label’ and John Dewar & Sons’ ‘White Label, the Dundee whisky firm of John Robertson & Son went for the colour yellow for its signature blend. It also helped distinguish the brand from others baring the same name, such as Robertson V.C.O which stood for ‘Very, choice, old’, and was blended by H.M Robertson in Edinburgh.
Robertson’s Yellow Label blend was still being sold in the 1980s. There was also an 8-year-old deluxe expression.
Dundee had its fair share of whisky blenders and bottlers from William Lawson Distillers Ltd to Stewart & Son, which created Stewart’s Cream of the Barley. Among them was John Robertson & Son Ltd, which was established in 1827 and went on to build the Coleburn distillery on Speyside in 1897.
The firm was listed in the Dundee Post Office directory for 1911/12 as a distiller and wine merchant located at 38 Seagate – the same directory carries an advert in its classified section for ‘Robertson’s Yellow Label Special Scotch’.
John Robertson & Son was a substantial business judging by the firm’s HQ on Seagate, which was an imposing Jacobethan-style building, four storeys high and complete with turrets and crow-stepped gables. The firm’s other blends included Piper’s Dram and BEB (Best Ever Bottled).
Eventually, like the other Dundee whisky companies, it was taken over by the big distillers, in John Robertson & Son’s case by the DCL in 1916. Although the company was transferred to Leith, later bottlings of Robertson’s Yellow Label continued to note the company’s Dundee provenance.
Leith blender James Munro & Son produced a series of blended scotch whiskies under the Munro’s name.
James Munro & Son had a thing about the monarchy, for among its blends were King of the North and Queen’s Club. Its most enduring creation however, was the Munro’s King of Kings Rare Old Deluxe Scotch Whisky. It was bottled in a dumpy, short-necked bottle, and a stoneware flagon that has become popular among collectors.
The company was also known for its Munro’s Square Bottle, a blended whisky presented in a dumpy bottle that was imported to the US, along with Munro’s King of Kings, by New York’s Epicure Wines and Spirits Co. at the end of Prohibition.
The blends would have undoubtedly contained whisky from Dalwhinnie distillery, which James Munro & Son operated on behalf of its US parent company until 1919.
James Munro & Son attracted the attention of America’s biggest distiller at the turn of the 20th century, Cook & Bernheimer of New York & Baltimore, which bought the firm and then used it to run the Dalwhinnie distillery, which it bought for £1,250 in 1905.
Some in the Scotch whisky industry feared it was the start of a US takeover, while others believed it would help open up the largely untapped American market.
By Christmas 1905 Cook & Bernheimer was already advertising James Munro & Son’s Long and Short ‘pot still Scotch’ in New York newspaper Brooklyn Eagle, as a whisky ‘made at the highest distillery in Scotland’ (Dalwhinne).
A 1914 ‘Who’s who in business’ directory listed James Munro & Son as based in ‘palatial new offices’ at 121 Constitution Street, Leith. It noted that the company’s speciality was ‘Scotch whisky in square bottles,’ – a reference to Munro’s Square Bottle no doubt – and that it was ‘purveyor to the House of Lords’.
With the onset of US Prohibition, James Munro & Son was bought by Macdonald Greenlees in 1919, and then by Distillers Company Ltd. in 1926. In later years the DCL licensed Knockdhu distillery to James Munro & Sons.