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Issue 109 - C ream of the Crop

Whisky Magazine Issue 109
February 2013


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C ream of the Crop

Gavin D. Smithlooks at the fortunes of Stewart's Cream of the Barley

The east coast port of Dundee no longer enjoys any real associations with the Scotch whisky industry, other than consumption, but during the 19th and early 20th centuries it was a significant centre for whisky blending activities.

The firm of John Robertson & Son Ltd was established in the city's Seagate during 1827 and ultimately came to own Coleburn distillery on Speyside. Meanwhile, James Watson & Co Ltd, with headquarters on the same street, was founded in 1815, being best known for its No.10 blend and at one time owning Parkmore, Balmenach and Cragganmore distilleries on Speyside, and Glen Ord in Inverness-shire.

Also based on Seagate was George Willsher & Co, whose Black Bull House premises were named after the company's principal brand of blended Scotch whisky, first formulated in 1864. George Morton Ltd was located on Dundee's Dock Street, close to Seagate, and dated back to 1838. The firm was noted not only for its blended whiskies and brandies, but also for OVD rum, originally imported by George Morton in 1838 and a brand now owned by William Grant & Sons Ltd.

Most enduring of Dundee's whisky blenders, however, was Alexander Stewart & Son, which had its origins in licenced premises in Dundee's Castle Street, where Alexander Stewart ran the Glengarry Inn. Stewart was a whisky dealer, and it was a logical development for the firm ultimately to produce its own ‘house' blend, using the Cream of the Barley name.

From local sales, Cream of the Barley grew to be a su...

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