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Issue 101 - Fond Affection

Whisky Magazine Issue 101
February 2012

 

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Fond Affection

Gavin D. Smith looks at the fortunes of the Black and White blend

Just as more mature whisky drinkers have the slogan ‘Don't be vague, ask for Haig,' indelibly imprinted on their minds, so they recall with affection the distinctive label of Black & White blended Scotch whisky, featuring a Scottish terrier (black) and a West Highland terrier (white).

For many years, the Black & White blend was as familiar a sight on British off-licence shelves and bar gantries as the aforementioned Haig, and like Haig it virtually disappeared from the UK overnight. It was one of a number of popular blended brands within the Distillers Company Ltd (DCL) portfolio which were withdrawn as a result of a late 1970s EEC ruling which banned the distilling giant's practice of selling its whiskies at lower wholesale prices in the UK than in other EEC markets.

The Black & White blend was established in 1884 by James Buchanan, a Canadian-born, Northern Ireland-educated individual of Scottish parentage.

He took up employment as an office boy in Glasgow at the age of 15, before working for 10 years in his brother's grain business.

However, 1879 saw Buchanan take his first steps into the Scotch whisky industry, on which he would leave such a significant mark, when he moved to London as an agent for the Leith blenders Charles Mackinlay & Co. Five years later he was in business creating blended whisky designed to appeal to the discerning palates of English drinkers.

Blended whisky was in the process of taking the world by storm, and Buchanan wanted his share of the s...

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