40 % RARE OLD SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY Distilled 1968 Bottled 2000 Proprietors: Long John Distillers Ltd Gordon & Macphail, Elgin
26 years old
50 % THE OLD MALT CASK 50o A Single Cask Bottling Distilled May 1976 Bottled May 2002 282 bottles No Chill Filtration No Colouring Douglas Laing & Co, Ltd, Glasgow
14 years old
INFO Distilled April 1978 Bottled October 1992
SOCIETY SINGLE CASK CODE: 99.01 The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
14 years old
60 % INFO Distilled April 1978 Bottled October 1992 SOCIETY SINGLE CASK CODE: 99.2 The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
32 years old
INFO Distilled February 1965 Bottled May 1997 SOCIETY SINGLE CASK CODE 99.6 The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
16 years old
40 % CONNOISSEURS CHOICE Distilled 1966 Bottled 1982 Proprietors: Long John Distillers Ltd Gordon & Macphail, Elgin
25 years old
40 % CONNOISSEURS CHOICE Distilled 1966 Bottled 1991 Trade Mark of Proprietors: Long John Distillers Ltd Gordon & Macphail, Elgin
28 years old
40 % CONNOISSEURS CHOICE Distilled 1967 Bottled 1995 Trade Mark of Proprietors: Long John Distillers Ltd Gordon & Macphail, Elgin
30 years old
40 % CONNOISSEURS CHOICE Distilled 1967 Bottled 1997 Proprietors: Long John Distillers Ltd Gordon & Macphail, Elgin
20 years old
INFO Distilled December 1966 Bottled April 1987 Wm. Cadenhead, 18 Golden Square, Aberdeen
27 years old
INFO CHIEFTAIN'S CHOICE Natural Strenght, Cask Strenght Distilled December 1973 Cask No. 6543/6547 Bottled December 2000 Bourbon Barrel 317 bottles Ian MacLeod & Co, Ltd, Broxburn
22 years old
58,0% RAREST OF THE RARE A Historic Collection of Cask Strenght Single Cask Whiskies from Distilleries which no linger exist Unique Whiskies of Distinction Fons et Origo Distilled : 1981 Bottled : 2004 Cask no. 5156 548 Numbered Bottles No Chill Filtering or Colouring of any kind
26 years old
INFO MISSION Selection Number Three Unique Bottling of Glenugie Distilled 1977 Bottled 2003 Genummerde flessen 498 Bottles Murray McDavid, Glasgow
25 years old
INFO SINGLE CASK SCOTCH MALT WHISKY Date Distilled May 80 Date Bottled Oct 05 Society Cask code 99.10 Outturn 263 Bottles The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh ' "Complex and intriguing'
23 years old
INFO RAREST OF THE RARE SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY CASK STRENGHT Unique Whiskies of Distinction A Historic Collection of Cask Strenght Single Cask Whiskies from Distilleries which no longer exist Distilled: 11.1981 Bottled: 06.2005 Matured in : SHERRY CASK Cask no. 5155 516 Numbered Bottles Fons et Origo D.T.C. No Chill Filtration or Colourings of any kind Duncan Taylor & Co, Ltd, Huntly, Aberdeenshire
1 9 7 7 Aged 33 years
57.2 % SIGNATORY VINTAGE CASK STRENGHT COLLECTION Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky Distilled on: 20/12/1977 Matured in Hogsheads / Sherry Butt Oloroso Cask Finish 100 Months Bottled on: 14/01/2011 Cask No: 2 573 Numbered Bottles Natural Colour Casks individually selected and bottled by Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Pitlochry
Highland Malt The Eastern Highlands GLENUGIE (1833 - 1983)
Peterhead, Aberdeenshire. Licentiehouder: Long John Distillers Limited. Eigendom van Whitbread. In 1983 gesloten en in 1985 ontmanteld. Glenugie was de noordelijkst gelegen distilleerderij van de Oostelijke Hooglanden en de meest oostelijk gelegen distilleerderij in Schotland. Gesticht in 1833 - 1834 door Donald McLeod & Co met de naam Invernettie. Op de plaats stond een windmolen, waarvan de resten er nog staan. In 1837 werd Glenugie omgebouwd tot bierbrouwerij. In 1875 werd Glenugie het eigendom van Scottish Highland Distillers Co, Ltd, die de brouwerij weer ombouwden tot een distilleerderij. Glenugie produceerde toen ongeveer 400.000 liter spirit per jaar. In 1879 stopte de zieltogende Scottish Highland Distillers Co, Ltd er mee. De volgende eigenaar was George Whyte & Co, maar die ging bankroet. In 1884 kocht Simon Forbes de distilleerderij, en hij was wel succesvol en bleef eigenaar tot 1915 en wellicht langer. Glenugie was gesloten in de eerste wereldoorlog, was weer in produktie van 1923 - 1924 en was weer gesloten van 1925 tot 1937. Seager 1956 overgenomen door Schenley Industries te New York. Schenley investeerde enorm in Glenugie, de distilleerderij werd kompleet nieuw gebouwd en de produktie werd verdubbeld, ook werden de lagerpakhuizen vergroot, waar men 1,5 miljoen gallon whisky kon lageren. Schenley Industries bouwde ook een malt distillery, Kinclaith, bij de graandistilleerderij Strathclyde te Glasgow en in 1958 The Tormore. In 1962 werd Laphroaig overgenomen. Glen Alden Corporation, eigenaar van Schenley Industries werd in 1969 overgenomen door Rapid American Incorporated. De naam Seager Evans werd in 1971 veranderd in Long John International Ltd, en die werd in 1975 overgenomen door de bierbrouwers Whitbread. Kinclaith werd toen gesloten om uitbreiding van de graandistilleerderij Strathclyde mogelijk te maken. Ben Nevis werd gekocht in 1981. Glenugie ging dicht in 1983 en werd in 1985 ontmanteld. Ben Nevis werd verkocht in 1988 aan The Nikka Whisky Distilling Co, Ltd uit Japan en The Tormore en Laphroaig werden in 1990 verkocht aan Allied Distillers Ltd. Het water voor Glenugie kwam van de Wellington Spring. Glenugie had één Wash still en één Spirit still.
1963 1971 1975 1983 The distillery is founded by Donald, McLeod & Co, as Invernettie Distillery The name changes to Glenugie Distillery and is converted into a brewery The brewery is bought by Scottish Highland Distillers Company Ltd, which recreates the distillery The distillery closes Glenugie is bought by George Whyte & Co, which becomes bankrupt the same year Production ceases The distillery begins production once more Production stops Seager Evans & Company Ltd takes over and resumes production Seager Evans & Comapny Ltd, is bought by Schenley Industries Inc. The number of stills doubles to four Own floor maltings discontinues Seager Evans & Company Ltd changes name to Long John International Ltd Schenley sells Long John International Ltd to Whitbread & Company The distillery closes and the buildings are sold
1831 - 1834 Donald McLeod & Co 1837 Glenugie Distillery Co Converted to a brewery Rebuilt as a distillery by Scottish Highland Distillers Co 1873 Incorporated 1877 Company practically moribund 1879 Distillery wound up George Whyte & Co buys the distillery 1882 George Whyte & Co sequestrated 1884 - 1915 Simon Forbes operates Glenugie 1918 John Craig owner 1923 -1924 Glenugie Distillery Ltd 1925 -1937 Distillery is silent 1937 Seager Evans & Co Ltd buys Glenugie 1956 Seager Evans & Co Ltd is taken over by Schenley Industries Inc Glenugie is transferred to Strathclyde & Long John Distilleries later Long John Distillers Ltd The number of stills doubles to four 1971 Seager Evans & Co Ltd changes name to Long John International Ltd. 1975 Schenley Industries Inc sells Glenugie to Whitbread & Co 1983 Glenugie closes.
Despite a reputation as one of the best distilleries in the north of Scotland, particularly among excise officers, Glenugie experienced a tumultuous history chequered by a revolving door of operators and periods of closure.
Under the operation of Simon Forbes in the late 1800s – the first licensee to bring considerable success to Glenugie – the distillery featured two pot stills fitted with shell and tube condensers (a horizontal one for the wash still and an upright one for the spirit still) to supplement the existing worm tubs. It had an output of around 90,000 gallons per year.
The majority of Glenugie’s whisky was used for blending, in particular for the Long John blend from the 1950s which was also owned by Seager Evans. Only two own bottlings have been released in recent years, both for current brand owner Chivas Brothers’ Deoch an Doras range in 2010 and 2011 as a 32- and 30-year-old. Several independent bottlings have also been produced.
Once Scotland’s most easterly whisky distillery, Glenugie was also one of four lost distilleries in the Peterhead area (Glenaden, Kirktown, Longside), which was renowned for its fishing industry and two harbours designed by famous architects Thomas Telford and John Smeaton.
The coastal distillery, which was originally called Invernettie, was erected near the Peterhead shoreline by Donald McLeod & Co in 1831, but was continuously set back during its 150-year lifetime by a string of failed owners.
Donald McLeod managed Invernettie for just three years before it was mothballed. The Glenugie Distillery Co., which acquired the site in 1837, converted it into a brewery. It remained that way until 1875, when taken over by Scottish Highland Distillery Co. Ltd, which reinstalled distilling equipment and renamed it Glenugie distillery.
Things were looking up but sadly Glenugie’s new owner failed to make a go of the business and was wound up, with the distillery sold to George Whyte & Co in 1879. Its bad luck continued, and two years after purchasing Glenugie, George Whyte & Co was sequestrated.
It wasn’t until around 1884, when Simon Forbes took over the license, that Glenugie’s fortunes began to look bright. Forbes invested in such ‘considerable improvements and additions’ that excise officers would describe the distillery as one of the best in the north of Scotland.
Forbes operated the distillery until at least 1915, seeing Glenugie through the fallout from the Pattison crash at the start of the century. It was eventually sold onto Glenugie Distillery Ltd in 1923, before a takeover by London distiller Seager Evans & Co. in 1937.
The group was acquired by New York’s Schenley Industries in 1956, with Seager’s Scottish distilleries transferred to its subsidiaries Strathclyde and Long John Distilleries.
In 1970 Seager Evans was renamed Long John International and the business was purchased by British brewer Whitbread five years later.
Glenugie remained operational throughout, though fell victim to the fallout of the whisky loch of the 1980s, closing for good in 1983. Its buildings were split up and sold to two north sea oil firms.
The Glenugie brand name is now owned by Chivas Brothers.
Donald McLeod & Co build a distillery at Peterhead peninsular
The distillery, which had become mothballed, is converted to a brewery by new owner Glenugie Distillery Co.
The site is purchased by Scottish Highland Distillers which transforms it back into a distillery
Scottish Highland Distillers is dissolved, and Glenugie is sold to George Whyte & Co.
George Whyte & Co is sequestrated
Glenugie is sold to Simon Forbes, who invests in bringing the distillery on form
The operation is sold to Glenugie Distillery Ltd, but falls silent two years later.
Seager Evans & Co acquires Glenugie and reopens the distillery
Seager Evans is acquired by Schenley Industries, and Glenugie is transferred to Long John Distilleries
Seager Evans becomes Long John International
Long John International is picked up by British brewer Whitbread
Glenugie distillery is closed for the last time
2005 - present
Chivas Brothers Holdings
1994 - 2005
1978 - 1994
Whitbread & Co
1975 - 1978
1956 - 1975
1937 - 1956
Glenugie Distillery Limited
1923 - 1937
1918 - 1923
1884 - 1918
George Whyte & Co
1879 - 1884
Scottish Highland Distillers Co
1875 - 1879
Glenugie Distillery Co
1837 - 1873
Donald, McLeod & Co
1831 - 1837
Once Scotland’s most easterly distillery, Glenugie’s whisky was mostly destined for blends during its lifetime, but has grown in stature since. With the last of Glenugie’s warehouses about to be demolished, lPeterhead plant’s history, in particular on its last 12 months of operation.
The year 1983 is one of the most notorious in whisky history. It was the height of the recession in the industry, when about a dozen malt distilleries were closed. The most famous are Brora and Port Ellen, but many others also fell silent.
One of these was Glenugie, located in Peterhead, a little north of Aberdeen. Scotland’s most easterly whisky distillery, it was owned by Long John International at the time and, according to the Aberdeen Press and Journal, it had the dubious honour of being the first distillery to be shut down on the Scottish mainland during the crisis of the 1980s.
Glenugie was highly regarded throughout its history: in the late 19th century, Excise officers were particularly impressed by its mash and still house, which was very commodious and well-ventilated, making it, in their eyes, one of the best distilleries in the north of Scotland.
Even today, the whisky made at Glenugie is widely admired by whisky enthusiasts. Glenugie collector Bob Hulsebosch describes the spirit as ‘exotically fruity and characterful’, and finds that Glenugie combines the best of old Springbank, Brora, Lochside and Clynelish.
Long-time Long John International employee Sid Watt, now retired and living in Glasgow, is similarly fond of Glenugie, although he stays away from the superlatives. ‘It was regarded as a light-flavoured Highland malt,’ he says. ‘It’s a nice wee drink, if you can get it.’
Watt was sent up to Glenugie in 1983, to oversee the removal of all the whisky maturing on-site. Together with four men from the warehouse crew, the job was supposed to last six months, but it took them nearly 10 months to clear the place.
Watt started his career in the whisky trade in 1966, working in a spirit store. At Long John he spent time in the sample room, working in the blending hall as well. But the year he was tasked with managing the final stages of Glenugie stayed with him the longest. ‘I was the one that shut the place down,’ he says.
Filling two lorries a day with about 100 casks each, it was a long and laborious job. At the start, only one antiquated stacker was available to the crew. Money was tight, as the whisky industry was haemorrhaging cash, but Long John found the funds to rent a forklift truck. ‘That stacker was slow! If it wasn’t for that forklift, we might’ve still been there,’ Watt says.
It wasn’t until long after its closure that Glenugie made a modest name for itself as a single malt whisky. When the distillery was still in operation, most of the liquid was used in the Long John blend, while only the occasional cask was sold to private individuals.
Watt and his crew encountered one such cask when emptying the warehouse. ‘That’s one I’ll never forget. It was maybe 60 years old. We couldn’t find out who the owner was. This person hadn’t paid rent on it for a while too, you know, to store the cask. So the company took it back into their stock.
‘You’d have thought there would’ve been almost nothing left in it because of evaporation, but there was still some in it. That whisky would be very valuable, but I’ve no idea what they did with it. Probably sold it to a broker to cover the rent or something.’
Located close to the coast, Glenugie had some sinister neighbours. The Peterhead Prison opened in 1888 a few hundred yards from the distillery. More than once a prisoner escaped, most notably Johnny Ramensky, also known as Gentleman Johnny. A career criminal, he used his safe-cracking skills as a Commando during the Second World War.
During the third of a total of four escape attempts in 1958, distillery workers from Glenugie spotted Ramensky as he tried to make his way out of Peterhead. Alexander Allan told the Aberdeen Evening Express: ‘A colleague and I ran after him. He hid behind some bushes (…), and, when we came up, he belted along past the warehouse and over the wall.’
Because of occurrences like this, assistant distillery manager William Bain, one of Sid Watt’s best friends, kept a pickaxe handle near his front door. One day in 1983, when Watt came into work, a long line of cars was outside Peterhead Prison. ‘Being very naive, I thought: “Well, maybe this is the day they let out the prisoners that are due to be let out,”’ he recalls.
It turned out that some inmates had escaped onto the roof of the prison. The solution for this problem was found at Glenugie distillery. ‘We had a fire engine with a portable pump,’ says Watt. ‘They used water from our fire dam, which we had for safety purposes.
‘As this was in December, the water was freezing and murky, not something you want to be hosed down from a roof with. But that’s what they did.’
In between the hard work and prison escapes, Watt and his crew had some good times, especially when a Customs and Excise officer asked if he could store a sports car in one of the empty Glenugie warehouses.
‘They confiscated it from someone who hadn’t paid the import tax. I don’t remember the brand, but it was blue. Sometimes we took it out in the yard. It was quite nice to have a wee drive around in this high-powered car.’
When the final day of work came around, it was just like any other day, according to Watt. The lorry came in early and they had the last cask away at about 10am. He praises the men he worked with, who knew they were about to lose their jobs.
‘They had a lovely attitude towards it. They all knew what was going on and were working towards it. It didn’t affect the way they worked – I would love to have worked with them even longer.’
Glenugie was one of the first casualties of the 1980s ‘whisky loch’
With the last casks on their way out of Peterhead, the remaining distillery workers and Watt had a small party. ‘There was quite a lot of stock – bottles of whisky and all that – left in the store room. We handed some out to local pensioners. Three bottles we handed in to the local lifeboat station, so they could raffle them. The men took some home as well.’
After Glenugie closed its doors for the last time, part of the equipment was sold. The spirit safe and the mash tun ended up at Fettercairn, while some of the stainless steel tanks found their way to Ben Nevis.
The distillery buildings have been in use over the years, but due to site redevelopment by current owner Score Group, most of the existing buildings fell into disrepair and were demolished. One set of warehouses remains today, but is scheduled to be knocked down soon, to make room for extra storage.
Watt is sad to hear the news, as he has many fond memories of Glenugie and Peterhead. Over the years he stayed in touch with several of his former colleagues. ‘It was a great atmosphere up there,’ he says. ‘I returned several times, and went up maybe once a year.
‘I always drove past the distillery, and was sad to see the way it went. If I could’ve possibly done it, I would’ve moved there. Had the distillery stayed on, I would’ve applied for a job at Glenugie.’
LAST GLENUGIE BUILDINGS SET FOR DEMOLITION
19 March 2018
The last remaining buildings at the former Glenugie distillery are set to be demolished over the next few months, marking the final chapter in the story of the Peterhead plant.
Going, going, gone: The last buildings at Glenugie will soon be demolished by the site’s owner
The set of warehouses is all that remains of the lost Highland distillery, which closed for good in 1983.
The most easterly distillery in all Scotland when it was still in production, Glenugie was among the many distilleries mothballed during the ‘whisky loch’ of the early 1980s.
Shortly after its closure, owner Whitbread sold the distillery to two North Sea oil firms. The site is currently owned by engineering company Score Group, one of the largest employers in the area.
The distillery buildings have been in use over the years but, due to site redevelopment, most of the existing buildings fell into disrepair and were demolished.
Score Group recently decided to knock down the last remaining warehouses, to make room for extra storage. When that happens, none of the original Glenugie distillery buildings will be left.
Had Glenugie been located elsewhere, it might have been preserved, with the possibility of reopening in the future. But its proximity to Aberdeen and the North Sea oil industry meant that the industrial premises were in high demand.
There are still remnants of an old granite windmill, which is a listed building, on the site. However, the windmill predates the distillery, and there is no evidence that it was ever used for production purposes.
The distillery once had a total of nine bonded warehouses, holding up to 1.5m gallons of whisky. The site grew to cover 25 acres in its 150-year history.
Few if any casks of Glenugie still exist. The last releases date from at least six years ago, with current brand owner Chivas Brothers releasing two cask strength editions in its Deoch an Doras range in 2010 and 2011.
A Chivas spokesperson said there were currently no plans for future releases, but could not confirm if the company still held any stocks of Glenugie.
BOB HULSEBOSCH, GLENUGIE
Closed distilleries are often a cause of intrigue among whisky enthusiasts, and for close to two decades Bob Hulsebosch has been particularly captivated by Glenugie in the Highlands – once Scotland’s most easterly distillery. Angus MacRaild gets a first-hand look at some of his most prized possessions.
Bob Hulsebosch: Glenugie bottlings have enthralled Hulsebosch for around 20 years
Who are you and what do you do?
‘My name is Bob Hulsebosch, born in 1969, from the Netherlands. I am married and have two lovely daughters. I work for a company that advises organisations on how to secure their IT systems. When I am not busy with whisky, I like to play bass guitar and work in the rose garden.’
How did you get interested in whisky in the first place?
‘My interest in whisky started about 20 years ago when my brother got a bottle of whisky. After the bottle had stood for about a year in our cellar, we decided to open it on a Saturday evening. That was quite an exciting moment, my first whisky, and it wasn’t too bad. I started buying and drinking “regular” blended whisky (Glen Talloch) and single malts (Glenfiddich 12).’
What whisky do you collect and why?
‘A few years later I bought a whisky magazine. In that magazine was an article about Dutch Whisky Connection. Dutch Whisky Connection consists of two whisky experts and collectors, Bert Vuik and Michiel Wigman, who love to share their passion of drinking – especially older or very rare single malts. Their main purpose is (besides collecting these bottles) to open them.
‘The article included tasting notes for several old whiskies and one of them was of the Glenugie Sestante. The tasting note mentioned all kinds of tropical fruit flavours that I had never imagined could exist in whisky. This triggered me to go the Whisky Festival in Groningen and visit the stand of Dutch Whisky Connection to try the Glenugie Sestante.
‘Vuik poured me a sample in my glass and I was completely lost by the heavenly smell and taste of it. A few weeks later, I ordered samples of all Vuik’s Glenugies. Somehow the Glenugie distillery fascinated me and I started to collect its whisky. The fact that it was a closed distillery made it special as well and I wanted to find out about its history and to keep it alive in our memories.’
‘At the moment I have about 80 bottles of Glenugie in my collection. You can find them on my website: www.glenugie.nl. The website also includes the history and several pictures of the distillery that has more or less completely been destroyed since its closure in 1983.
‘I also try to collect specific whiskies of other closed distilleries like Coleburn, Convalmore, Port Ellen, St Magdalene and Karuizawa. Often, I use these whiskies to swap with Glenugies.’
Dream drams: Hulsebosch’s collection includes the Glenugie Samaroli 1966
Glenugie is generally highly regarded among collectors and enthusiasts. What do think it is about Glenugie that people love?
‘The Glenugie whisky has a profile that can generally be described as exotically fruity and characterful. The character often comes from the smoky, peaty, farm-like or waxy edges you can find in many old bottlings. In a way, it combines the best of old Springbank, Brora, Lochside and Clynelish.’
Had Glenugie remained open, do you think we would still hold it in the same high regard?
‘Indeed. Another aspect of Glenugie’s stature is the fact that it is a closed distillery. Nowadays, Glenugies are hard to find. A lot of collectors and investors are looking for bottles. Had Glenugie remained open it would certainly be a less “special” distillery, probably comparable with another famous and still open distillery from the neighbourhood, Glen Garioch.’
Prices for almost all old Glenugies have risen sharply. Does this change the way you view your collection? Do you see it as an investment?
‘When I started collecting Glenugies the prices were already relatively high. My ambition was, and still is, to collect all bottlings ever released and to drink every now and then a small glass of its spirit. Currently, however, the prices are too high to probably fulfil this ambition or to open a bottle for drinking. Slowly, the collection is turning into an investment. The problem with investing is that at some point in time you have to sell your collection, i.e. to make profit. For me, this moment has not arrived yet. I still love to collect Glenugie and find it hard to get rid of bottles.’
Do you think Chivas Brothers could have done more with the name Glenugie and the remnant stocks, much like Diageo has done with Brora and Port Ellen?
‘Chivas released two Deoch an Doras bottlings in 2010 and 2011 which can be considered original bottlings. There are only a few other OBs. Interestingly, almost all bottlings are from independent bottlers. This is probably why Chivas couldn’t have done more with the name and stocks: they just did not have any stocks of Glenugie. Note that since 2012-13, no new bottlings have appeared on the market.’
A lot is said these days about the character of Scotch whisky and how it has changed over the years. What is your take on it?
‘The current character of Scotch whisky can best be described as “computerised”. The profile of most distilleries seems to converge into whiskies that are on average clean and sweet, or peaty. Character is often missing, but sometimes something special happens and very nice whisky is bottled. The trick is to find those bottles.’
Some of the best: Hulsebosch tips the 12-year-old Cadenhead bottling as one of the best Glenugies ever made
What distilleries do you think are producing the best whiskies these days from a drinker’s perspective?
‘Examples of recent young gems are a nine-year-old Miltonduff from the Whisky Chamber, the eight-year-old Glentauchers bottled by the Creative Whisky Company, or Springbank’s own 16-year-old Local Barley. I think Springbank together with GlenDronach (single casks), Bowmore (the fruitiness is slowly coming back) and Clynelish (plenty of good 1997s available) produce the best whisky at the moment. These distilleries seem to be able to improve the quality of their whisky or to reinvent themselves. Lagavulin is always good, but not very exceptional for me. Kilkerran is the new kid on the block with good value for money.’
What do you think are the best Glenugies ever bottled?
‘My favorite bottling is the Glenugie Sestante 1967 (in 1989) at 59.5% abv. It is very fruity and powerful – absolutely stellar. In general, I like the red fruits and apples on the nose and mouth that so much characterise Glenugie. Another gem, but completely different, is the Glenugie 12-year-old Cadenhead Authentic Collection 59.8% abv, which really is a Sherry bomb. The Samaroli 1966 55% abv is complex and needs time, but it’s delicious. Most of the Cadenhead and SMWS (Scotch Malt Whisky Society) bottlings are very good. I am less enthusiastic about the latest Signatory Glenugies that have been finished in Sherry casks for several months.’
What are the prize bottles in your collection?
‘The prize bottles in my collection are the Glenugie Samaroli 1966 at 55% abv; the Glenugie for Neish by Robert Watson; and the five-year-old original bottling. From a rarity point of view, I also like the 1981 Duncan Taylor private bottling for the Taiwanese market.’
What would be your ‘holy grail’ bottle to find?
‘One of my goals would be to have all three Glenugie Samaroli bottlings. I have two of them in my collection and I am still looking for the 1980 bottle. Getting that one would really be the holy grail.’
What has been the greatest whisky experience of your life so far?
‘Several years ago I co-organised a Glenugie tasting. We opened and tasted six Glenugies in a row. It was a fantastic and memorable evening. Another great experience was the Usquebaugh Society’s Laphroaig masterclass at WFNN (Whisky Festival Noord-Nederland) in Groningen, given by Marcel van Gils and Hans Dillesse. Here we compared, among others, four 10-year-old distillery bottlings from the 1960s to the ’90s. It was amazing to taste how much the "Laffie" has changed over the decades.’
DISTILLER & BLENDER
Prolific English gin and Scotch whisky distiller and blender that became Long John International.
What started out as a 19th century gin distiller and rectification business in London became a thriving Scotch whisky distilling and blending empire. Seager Evans & Co had its headquarters in Deptford, but under US ownership expanded its business north into Scotland. It acquired the Long John blended Scotch whisky and, following its popularity in global markets, eventually renamed its subsidiaries and own business after the brand.
During its lifetime Seager Evans & Co owned the Strathclyde grain distillery in Glasgow, Glenugie in Peterhead and Laphroaig on Islay, and built Tormore in Moray. It also owned a sizeable warehousing, blending and bottling facility in Glasgow, as well as the Plymouth Gin distillery on England’s south coast.
It was renamed Long John International Ltd in 1988 and now operates as a dormant subsidiary of Chivas Brothers Ltd.
SEAGER EVANS HISTORY
Despite being one of the more successful Scotch whisky distillers and blenders, Seager Evans & Co was established as a gin distiller and rectifier in London in 1805. Its main operation was based at Millbank distillery in Westminster for the purpose of distilling, blending and rectifying gin (the business was moved in 1921 to Holland & Co’s Deptford site on the expiration of Millbank’s lease).
In 1903, with many Scottish distilleries being sold off for a bargain price following a crash in the market, Seager Evans picked up the Lowland Glentarras distillery. But it was too soon for the group to be entering the Scotch distilling industry and with the market in disarray, particularly for the Lowland distilleries, it was sold on in 1910 (and eventually closed five years later).
It wasn’t until 1927 that Seager Evans made another pass at distilling in Scotland, this time with the construction of its own distillery in Glasgow. Strathclyde was opened on the site of a disused cotton mill in Waddell Street as an alternative source of grain spirit to DCL (which was dominating the market), rather than in response to demand for more capacity. Strathclyde operated under the Scottish Grain Distilling Company subsidiary, though the name was changed to Strathclyde and Long John Distilleries Ltd in 1957 following the opening of the Kinclaith malt plant inside Strathclyde and the acquisition of the Long John blend through Seager’s buyout of W.H. Chaplin & Co in 1936.
Glenugie malt distillery, which had been silent for 15 years, was added to the portfolio in 1937, but it was after WWII that Seager began a real spending spree. It bought Westthorn Farm in Glasgow, a 100-acre site on which it built a huge storage, cooperage and blending facility. Today the London Road site is the headquarters of John Dewar & Sons.
Seager Evans was acquired by New York’s Schenley Industries in 1956, which allowed it to purchase Coates & Co (Plymouth) Ltd, the producer of Plymouth Gin, in 1958. In the same year it snapped up Tormore in Moray and went on to acquire Gordon Graham of Aberdeen and its Black Bottle blend.
The investment didn’t stop. In 1962 Seager Evans began its 10-year purchase of Laphroaig distillery from Bessie Williamson, and went on to purchase Stanley Holt & Son, which held one of the largest stocks of maturing whisky in England.
In 1972 Schenley Industries was acquired by Rapid American Inc and three years later Seager Evans was sold off to British brewer Whitbread. Its new owner invested heavily in a modernising Seager’s distilleries, and even reunited the Long John brand with the purchase of its home, Ben Nevis distillery, in 1981.
In 1988 Seager Evans & Co. Ltd was renamed Long John International Ltd. The following year, Whitbread’s wine and spirits divisions were sold to Allied Lyons. Long John International is now a dormant subsidiary of Chivas Brothers.
DISTILLER & BLENDER
US-based liquor giant that held significant Scotch interests during the 20th century.
Schenley industries was one of the largest liquor groups operating out of the US during the 20th century, with significant interests in Bourbon, American and Canadian whisky, gin and vodka.
In Scotch terms, Schenley was responsible for the construction of Kinclaith and Tormore malt distilleries, and – through its English subsidiary Seager Evans & Co – also once owned Laphroaig distillery and Long John blended Scotch. As well as owning several distilleries and blending companies through Seager Evans, it also distributed many of the Scotch and gin brands belonging to the DCL in the US, including Dewar’s and Gordons.
Schenley’s New York headquarters once occupied five floors of the Empire State building, which with over 800 employees made it the largest employer in residence.
Schenley Industries was founded in the 1920s, when Lewis Rosential purchased a group of distilleries, including one in Schenley, Pennsylvania that had a license to produce whisky for medicinal purposes during Prohibition – one of only six in the country to do so. Acting on the advice of Sir Winston Churchill, whom he met during a visit to the French Riviera in 1922, Rosential purchased large whisky inventories in preparation for the end of Prohibition.
When Repeal came in 1933, Rosential incorporated Schenley Distillers Company, which grew rapidly to become one of the largest liquor businesses in the US. It obtained the rights to distribute DCL’s Dewar’s in the US, with the blended Scotch allegedly contributing half of Schenley’s profits.
The business was renamed Schenley Industries in 1949 and became a public company shortly afterward.
With Scotch whisky so vibrant in the US during the 50s – it took on the bulk of exports after the war – American ownership of Scotch interests abounded. Publicker Industries established Inver House Distillers; Hiram Walker made acquisitions of Scapa, Glencadam and Pulteney distilleries; while Seagram, which bought Chivas Brothers following the war, picked up Strathisla and Glen Keith.
In 1956 Schenley purchased London’s Seager Evans & Co., at that time owner of the Strathclyde grain distillery in Glasgow, Glenugie malt distillery in Peterhead, and the Long John blended Scotch whisky brand.
Under Schenley, Seager Evans opened the Kinclaith malt distillery within Strathclyde, Laphroaig on Islay and Plymouth Gin distillery. It built Tormore in Moray, and acquired blender Gordon & Graham of Aberdeen (owner of Black Bottle) and Stanley Holt & Son, which had one of the largest stocks of maturing whisky in England.
Rosential sold his controlling interest in Schenley to the Glen Alden Corporation in 1968, and resigned from the company. Glen Alden was purchased by Rapid American in 1972 but, owing to US monopolies legislation, was required to divest some of its liquor interests.
In 1975 Seager Evans & Co – which controlled all of Schenley’s Scotch assets – was sold to British brewer Whitbread and later renamed Long John International.
Meanwhile, Rapid American’s CEO, Meshulam ‘Rik’ Riklis was caught up over allegations of share price fixing during Guinness’ infamous takeover of Distillers Company Ltd in 1986. The following year Guinness also acquired Schenley industries from Riklis