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Issue 39 - Whisky and history make a perfect blend

Whisky Magazine Issue 39
May 2004


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Whisky and history make a perfect blend

Gavin D Smith provides an update on the Andrew Usher commemorations

In Issue 36 we reported on the second annual Andrew Usher Event, held at William Grant & Sons, hosted by Peter Gordon, great-great-grandson of company founder William Grant.

The occasion was designed to celebrate blended Scotch whisky, and in particular one of the key pioneers of blending, Andrew Usher.

“The blenders are what I call hidden heroes, says Peter Gordon, whose family connections with Andrew Usher & Co date from 1890, when William Grant began to supply the Edinburgh blender with Glenfiddich single malt.

During the Usher Event, William Grant's very own pair of ‘hidden heroes' David Stewart and Brian Kinsman attempted to recreate the company's Standfast blend as it was in 1937, using a variety of single malts aged in European oak, along with grain spirit from Diageo's Cameronbridge and Port Dundas distilleries.

Existing records show that 1937 Standfast comprised 30% malt and 70% grain whisky, with Glenfiddich and Balvenie making up 50% of the malt content, which also comprised around 1% of Islay whisky.

The year 1937 had been chosen because, thanks to Peter Gordon, there was a decent quantity of the authentic pre-war spirit for guests to compare with the modern replica. Gordon had been offered the chance to purchase a sealed, stoneware ‘pig' filled with 1937 Standfast, originally supplied to William Heptinstall of the Fortinghall Hotel in Perthshire, and jumped at the opportunity. He recalls with a chuckle the
strange looks he received from staff in the ac...

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