Let’s play a game. Before you read on, can you name all the brands of blended whisky owned by DCL?
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 the question 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. Then look at the list of DCL blends below. These are the brands we’re listing just in this one current auction but we’ll keep the game going by adding to the list in future.
OK, so how many DCL blends and brands did you manage to list?
Ainslie & Heilbron
Crawford’s Five Star
Grand Old Parr
King George IV
Usher’s Green Stripe
So what about blends we did not include in our list?
Tracing the history of whisky brands is 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. It’s 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.
For example there’s a handful of near and distant DCL relatives in the current auction:
Auld Acrimony is a blended malt produced by James Gulliver after he lost his takeover bid of the Distiller’s Company.
Bell’s was never really a DCL brand as it was brought in later.
The Real Mackenzie was a Bell’s secondary brand
Gilbey’s Spey Royal was never part of DCL, but was a key part of Grand Met
C&J McDonald’s was also Grand Met brand
Royal Ages was also Grand Met brand.
For more blends keep watching Whisky.Auction.