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Issue 27 - The godfather of blending

Whisky Magazine Issue 27
November 2002

 

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The godfather of blending

Gavin. D. Smith examines the legacy of the philanthropic Andrew Usher and sons, blending pineers

On 23rd August of this year, 22 of Scotland's leading whisky blenders assembled at Kyndal's Glasgow headquarters, each bearing a sample of specially blended 16-year-old whisky. The samples were duly vatted together and just one bottle of the resultant ‘superblend' produced.

This collector's item is to be auctioned in Glasgow at McTear's specialist spring whisky sale, and according to Kyndal's Master Blender Richard Paterson, whose brainchild this venture was, it may fetch in the region of £20,000. Paterson notes “Never before in the history of Scotch whisky has there ever been such a large vatting of so many master blenders!”

The reason for this exercise was to celebrate of one of Paterson's whisky heroes, the ‘godfather' of blending, Andrew Usher, and its date was chosen partly because the first written record of Scotch whisky refers to either the 23rd or 24th August 1494.

When the development of whisky blending is discussed, certain high-profile names are included. Without Messrs Dewar, Buchanan, Mackie et al, blended whisky might never have become the global drink it is today. However, the vital role played by the father and son partnership of Andrew Ushers Senior and Junior is rarely given the prominence it merits.

The Usher family had its origins in the Scottish Borders, and Andrew Senior was the youngest of 12 children, born near Melrose in April 1782. He worked in his brother Hugh's London ‘counting house', then sold corn for brothers John and Hugh in Ha...

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