Doctor's Special Profile

Blended Scotch Whisky

The health-giving properties of Scotch as a cure for flu, colds and life in general have been pushed by plenty of whiskies over the years, not least Laphroaig which enjoyed legitimate US sales as a ‘medicinal spirit’ during Prohibition.

The Glasgow-based blender Robert McNish & Co, took this a step further with Doctor’s Special, a blend that sold for much of the 20th century. Occasional bottles now appear at whisky auctions.

  • Production type
    Blended Scotch

Doctor's Special History

Robert McNish set up shop on Glasgow’s Hope Street in 1863 selling tea from India and China, Virginia tobacco and Scotch whisky, while his sons went on to develop exports and open an office in London.

The firm’s most enduring blend, the Grand MacNish, now owned by Macduff International, has been in continual production since the start, and was lauded by Ernest Hemmingway in an interview with Look Magazine in 1954.

It is unclear when the firm first released Doctor’s Special, but early adverts – when it was labelled ‘Special Liqueur Cream old Scotch whisky’ – suggest it may date from the Edwardian era. It later defined itself as the ‘Aristocrat of Fine Scotch whiskies,’ and was by appointment to King Gustav VI Adolf of Sweden, who ruled from 1950-73.

Doctor’s Special continued to be bottled into the 1970s, and while Grand Macnish was sold off to Macduff International, the brand remained behind and became part of Chivas Brothers. 

Timeline

  • 1863 Robert McNish opens his Glasgow store and begins trading in Scotch whisky
  • 1904 Robert McNish dies and his son John opens an office in London
  • 1927 Robert McNish & Co merges with the Canadian Corby Distilleries Ltd
  • 1935 Hiram Walker-Gooderham & Worts acquires a controlling interest in Corby Distilleries
  • 1937 Hiram Walker establishes a Scottish arm to control its Scotch whisky operations
  • 1985 Hiram Walker (Scotland) is acquired by Allied Lyons
  • 1991 Grand McNish is sold to Macduff International
  • 2005 Allied is acquired by Pernod Ricard

Owners

Current owner

Previous owner

  • Robert Macnish & Company

See also

  • Aberlour Aberlour Aberlour Distillery & brand

    Aberlour

    Part of Chivas Brothers' portfolio, Aberlour is best known for its cult expression, A'Bunadh.

  • Braeval Braeval Braeval Distillery & brand

    Braeval

    The joint highest Scottish distillery.

  • Glen Keith Glen Keith Glen Keith Distillery & brand

    Glen Keith

    Experimental site with a fruity whisky.

  • Glentauchers Glentauchers Glentauchers Distillery & brand

    Glentauchers

    A substantial granite distillery.

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