Black & White Profile

Blended Scotch Whisky

The story goes that the whisky baron James Buchanan picked a black Scottie dog and a white Westie (West Highland terrier), as brand mascots after visiting a dog show. The pair of lovable pooches were widely used in advertising before they appeared on the label of the best-selling Black & White – a light, simple, grain-forward whisky with a clean, citrus edge.

First introduced in the late 19th century, today Black and White is popular around the world in countries such as India, South Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

  • Production type
    Blended Scotch
  • Previous names
    House of Commons

Black & White History

Born in Rockville, Ontario in 1849, James Buchanan formed his own whisky company in 1884 after five years with blender Charles Mackinlay & Co. His flagship whisky was The Buchanan Blend, a light, smooth unpeated expression designed specifically to appeal to the English palate.

Working with his friend WP Lowrie to create the expression, which initially incorporated Dalwhinnie, Clynelish and Glendullan malts, the Buchanan Blend became an instant hit south of the border and was picked up by the Members Bar at the House of Commons in London. In honour of his prestigious client, Buchanan renamed the blend Buchanan’s House of Commons Finest Old Highland whisky, and presented it in a dark glass bottle with a striking white label. Before long, drinkers began ordering ‘that Black & White whisky’, and in 1902 the name was officially changed again to Black and White. By then the brand was being exported across the world, and by 1907 it was being ordered by the emperor of Japan. Two years later it had become the most popular blend in England.

James Buchanan & Co. Ltd merged with John Dewar & Son Ltd in 1915, and thence DCL 10 years later. By then the Highland distillery of Dalwhinnie was a core part of the blend, and in time became Black & White’s spiritual home.

It was while under the auspices of the DCL during the 1920s that the Black & White terriers began featuring more heavily in the brand’s advertising, quickly becoming iconic ambassadors for Buchanan’s flagship blend. In 2013 the brand was given a contemporary makeover, and the terriers made the move onto the bottle’s label for the first time.

Such is the blend’s longevity and popularity that it has been referenced many times in popular culture. It was beloved of Dean Martin and Walt Disney, featured in Tender is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald and was drunk by James Bond in Moonraker. While long absent from the UK, Black & White was selling around 1.4 million cases globally as of 2015.

Timeline

  • 1849 James Buchanan is born in Canada
  • 1884 James Buchanan & Co. is founded
  • 1885 The Buchanan Blend appears for sale in the House of Commons; it’s later renamed House of Commons whisky
  • 1902 The blend is renamed Black & White
  • 1915 James Buchanan & Co. merges with John Dewar & Sons to form Buchanan-Dewar Ltd.
  • 1925 Buchanan-Dewar joins the Distillers Company Ltd
  • 1986 Guinness purchases the DCL and forms United Distillers
  • 1997 Guinness merges with Grand Metropolitan to form Diageo
  • 2013 Black & White is given a contemporary makeover
  • 2015 The blend sells 1.4 million cases worldwide

Owners

Parent company

Current owner

Previous owners

See also

  • Dalwhinnie Dalwhinnie Dalwhinnie Distillery & brand

    Dalwhinnie

    Single malt distillery owned by Diageo, located on the banks of the Strathspey.

  • Buchanan's Buchanan's Buchanan's Brand

    Buchanan's

    James Buchanan’s late Victorian blend remains hugely popular in Hispanic markets.

  • Slaintheva Slaintheva Slaintheva Brand

    Slaintheva

    Purchasers of this blended Scotch could have their name inscribed on the label gratis.

  • James Martin’s James Martin’s James Martin’s Brand

    James Martin’s

    An export-only blend from the late-Victorian era that became ingrained in Glenmorangie plc’s DNA.

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