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Issue 119 - Birds of a feather

Whisky Magazine Issue 119
April 2014


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Birds of a feather

A look at how our feathered friends appear on the labels

Without a doub the most well-known bird on a Scottish whisky label is The Famous Grouse. He is sometimes lovingly named Gilbert and is accompanied in flight by his smoky brother The Black Grouse, his lilywhite sister The Snow Grouse and the scoundrel of the family, The Naked Grouse.

The last one mentioned doesn't even wear a label but its silhouette is blown into the glass. The original drawing for the Grouse label came from the hand of founder Matthew Gloag's aunt. In the course of time the bird has seen various facelifts. Today Gilbert wears a tight suit, compared with days gone by, as is illustrated by some older labels.

He is definitely not the only bird that flies the whisky skies. The next label depicts the majestic Golden Eagle, soaring above many a ben and glen, hunting his prey. An interesting line on the label is the signature J & G Grant. Might this once have been a Glenfarclas blend? Who knows?

Tayvallich Blenders from Glasgow once launched a five-year-old blended Scotch, crowned with the eagle. This particular version was bottled for the French market. It carries a seal of the Cotisation Securité Sociale. That section of the French government takes care of taxes regarding health care, pensions, child support and unemployment benefits. It escapes me why such a mark ended up on a whisky label, but the French are a funny lot, aren't they? No offence, really.

In the past, independent bottler Gordon & MacPhail presented a series for various distilleries, each b...

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