As we hurtle towards the holiday season let’s play a game. No, not a drinking game. It’s a whisky game. Before you read on, can you name all the brands of blended whisky owned by DCL? How many are in your collection? How many have you tasted?
The Distillers Company Limited operated between 1877 and 1986. After 1986 it was taken over by Guinness, which eventually became Diageo.
Besides the large number of well-known blends owned and operated by the DCL’s main constituents such as Johnnie Walker, Dewar’s, Buchanan’s etc there were many other smaller businesses, distilleries and brands that were acquired after WWI.
Of these, perhaps of most interest are the secondary brands deployed for strategic and sometimes tactical reasons during and after Prohibition in the United States.
So first part of the game is, can you name all the brands of blended Scotch whisky owned by DCL?
To play this game first try to list as many DCL brands as you can. Use Whisky.Auction to help you. Once you’re done you can look at the list of DCL blends below. For bonus points tell us which ones we’ve missed off the list.
Next, use the list to tally up how many old and rare blends you have in your collection and how many you have tasted. If you are missing any of them it’s a good time to fill in the gaps. Prices for blends rarely match those achieved by single malts and despite some dramatic fluctuations, prices for both are generally on the rise.
Bargain hunters can pick up blends dating back to the ‘Whisky Loch’ years when, following overproduction in the 1970s, there was an excess of high quality whisky that went into blends in the 1980s and 1990s. Collectors don’t seem to be so interested in this era (yet) and the whisky in the bottle is often exemplary.
By spending just a bit more you can pick up rarer 1950s bottles with spring caps and stunningly preserved bottles dating back 100 years. Again, it’s the whisky inside the bottle that’s most important and to taste these old blends is to get a glimpse at how much whisky production has changed over the last century.
Ainslie & Heilbron
Crawford’s Five Star
Grand Old Parr
King George IV
Usher’s Green Stripe
You might have already spotted that certain blends are missing from the list. Tracing the history of whisky brands is a bit like reading about rock-band family trees. Generations of whisky brands have changed ownership through buyouts and mergers and so all sorts of blended whisky brands have become interlinked over the years. For instance it is possible for the direct descendant of a blend to retain the same brand name even if it doesn’t use the original recipe, equally, the lineage of a blend could have many protruding branches in the whisky family tree.
Spinal Tap has nothing on whisky brands.
Find more old and rare blends at Whisky.Auction.