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Issue 64 - Standing out from the flock (Spencerfield Spirits)

Whisky Magazine Issue 64
June 2007


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Standing out from the flock (Spencerfield Spirits)

Ian Buxton dons his wellies and digs out his shepherd's crook

Spencerfield Spirits is not your usual whisky company. For one thing, it's based in the tack room attic of the owner's thoroughbred livery stable and, for another, you have to meet Doug (the company dog, pronounced ‘dug' – it's a pun, you see) and four friendly horses before you get down to business.

And then it's considered good form to knock the mud off your shoes as you clamber up to the office (did I mention this involves crossing the horses' paddock?).

Then there are the whiskies – with names like Sheep Dip and Pig's Nose you might think they were just part of the trend to silly names. So it would be easy to conclude that this was just some kind of jokey, lifestyle business that will be happy selling a few cases of whisky to mates before closing the office for an early, liquid lunch.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

As the company's Alex Nicol explains: “These are typical ‘orphan brands' discarded by large companies as being unworkable in international markets and too quirky to succeed with their portfolio approach. But small niche, fleet-footed operators can often run rings round heavier, more ponderous rivals.” But it isn't just a question of a wacky name. There are serious whisky credentials here, though worn lightly and with an irreverent sense of wit and style that, if somewhat out of step with the zeitgeist (dominated as it is by spreadsheets and Blackberries), is delightfully reminiscent of an older and more gracious way of doing business.

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