Whisky Magazine Issue 114
This article is 11 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.
Private labelling of whisky is as old as bottling whisky itself. It started with the blenders who would give their own names to the whiskies purchased from different distilleries, hence the Dewars, Buchanans, Walkers, Chivas and Ballantines of this world. Before 1870, when labelling bottles started, their names would be blown into the bottle. A practise you can still see with some, lately The Naked Grouse, a funny take on the theme.
Independent bottlers such as Adelphi, G&M and Duncan Taylor label their whiskies accordingly, usually stating the origins of the distillery from where the single malt came. Of course with blends it is a different ball game. Brokers buy from distilleries, then sell in limited editions or in bulk to a variety of customers. For instance supermarket chains in France, Germany, England, Spain and Italy sell private label blends by the score. Names can even be a brand extension from a cigarette or clothing line. The latter two might not give you a reason to chuckle yet, but it illustrates how the industry adapts easily to giving fancy names.
Sometimes a supermarket, not hindered by any knowledge of product or language, hires a – Scottish? – whisky consultant with a particular sense of humour. When you are not a native English speaker, you might end up with a weird or crazy name for your blend. A wee while ago we were visiting friends in La Marche, halfway down the boot of Italy on the Adriatic coast. In Altidona's supermarket I came across this spe...