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Issue 46 - Badge of quality in safe hands (Adelphi)

Whisky Magazine Issue 46
March 2005


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Badge of quality in safe hands (Adelphi)

Adelphi distillery, the top-of-the-market independent bottler, has been bought by a couple of landowners in Argyll. Charles MacLeanlooks at the company's history and asks the new owners about their plans.

The first thing you notice about an Adelphi bottle is its minimalist labelling: a rectangular postagestamp, fixed low down on a clear glass standard liquor bottle, with an equally small back label telling you, in type so small you need a magnifying glass to read it, where the whisky comes from, its date, strength and cask number.

The whole ensemble speaks of modesty, quality, style and honesty – and as such, perfectly matches the company's ethos. Bar staff hate these bottles – but Adelphi is not aimed at the bar trade. Consumers with a developed aesthetic sense as well as a developed palate love them. Indeed, the packaging won a clutch of international design awards, including silver awards from Clio and the Art Directors' Club of New York.

The guy behind Adelphi was Jamie Walker; the designer was Graham Scott. I was introduced to Jamie by Graham's boss in 1992. I had just taken delivery of 30-odd samples of malt whisky, and in the interests of science the three of us applied ourselves vigorously, over several hours, to examining these whiskies. Jamie and I have remained firm friends ever since. Indeed, shortly after this organoleptic orgy he invited me to chair the Adelphi nosing panel a task I have happily undertaken ever since.

Close scrutiny of the Adelphi label reveals the date 1826. This was when the original distillery was founded in the Gorbals district of Glasgow, by a partnership which, by 1857, was controlled by Jamie Walker's great-greatgrandfather, Archiba...

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