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Issue 104 - The Great Sword

Whisky Magazine Issue 104
June 2012


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The Great Sword

Gavin D. Smith looks a the fortunes of The Claymore brand

In this year of The Queen's Diamond Jubilee, those of us old enough to remember her Silver Jubilee in 1977 may well recall raising a glass of The Claymore to Her Majesty, or if our loyalties lay elsewhere, pogoing to Johnny Rotten and his safety pinned compatriots while necking it from the bottle. For in 1977 The Claymore was the most ubiquitous blended Scotch in the UK.

It was everywhere and it was cheap. If you wanted to save money on your visit to the offlicence (remember them?) then you by-passed the Haig and the White Horse and picked up a bottle of The Claymore instead.

Today, of course, not only are there very few off-licences in the UK, but Haig and White Horse are extremely unlikely to be on the shelves, and The Claymore has a much lower profile than it enjoyed 35 years ago. However, according to Phil McTeer of the brand's current owner Whyte & Mackay Ltd: “The Claymore is sold in more than 40 countries, covering all regions of the world: Europe, The Middle East, Africa and key regions of Asia. The largest markets include the UK, Japan, China and Travel Retail.” The modern formulation of The Claymore is very similar to that of the 1970s, though, inevitably, the 1970s version was a long way away from that of the 19th century. The brand was created by Alexander Ferguson & Co, with a trademark being registered in 1879 for Claymore Highland malt whisky.

In blended guise it was in existence by 1890, the date of establishment given on the current label, and the name...

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