Whisky Magazine Issue 111
This article is 18 months old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.
Copyright Whisky Magazine © 1999-2014. All rights reserved. To use or reproduce part or all of this article please contact us for details of how you can do so legally.
In a new series whisky writer and label expert Hans Offringa will look at the evolution of branding and labelling from several distilleries.
In the 19th century, customers would take their jugs and fill them straight from the cask at the distillery, pub or wine and spirit merchant. The ones who could afford it bought whisky by the cask and had it delivered to their homes. Only when glass became affordable, around 1870, could whisky be bottled and the need for distinguishing among brands on the shelves rose. At first the names of the producers were hand blown into the bottle, but soon paper labels were produced. Initially labels were only printed in black and white and blends were among the first to use the new marketing tool. An old one was called Acorn Brand, from Henderson & Turnbull. This might have been a reference to the very source of the cask. It reminds me of a quote from a famous whisky maker from the Northern Highlands, talking about wood management: “If need be, we will even go back to the acorn.” Since an oak has to grow at least 80 years before it can be turned into a cask, said distiller would have to outlive many of his friends.
One of the oldest, if not the oldest, is Teacher's. A damaged example survived on an old bottle u. The glue on the label was examined and dated late 1860s. One of the first single malts appearing in labelled bottles was Glenfarclas – The Spirit of Independence. The first example is from around 1880 and excels in simplicity. Note the name of the bottler v. At the time the bulk of the production was sold to independent merchants and bottlers. (That is unthinkable today,...