King's Ransom Profile

Blended Scotch Whisky

In his colourful career, the small-time whisky baron William Whiteley launched nearly 50 Scotch brands, owned Edradour and had the infamous Mafia boss, Frank Costello, as his US ‘sales consultant’ during Prohibition.

King’s Ransom was Whiteley’s pride and joy, aimed at the luxury American market with its squat, square-shaped bottle and colourful label that included the words ‘Round the World’. Adverts from the 1960s explained how the whisky was carried as ballast in Ocean-going liners and that the rocking motion at sea helped marry its component parts. 

  • Production type
    Blended Scotch

King's Ransom History

Yorkshire-born William Whiteley was 67 when he created his flagship blend, King’s Ransom, in 1928. With Frank Costello as his US agent it was doubtless being sipped in the speakeasy bars of Prohibition America.

The core of the blend was said to be Edradour, the tiny Perthshire distillery that Whiteley acquired for £1,050 in 1933.When he died in 1941, Costello’s associate Irving Haim took over the distillery while Costello and his firm took a share of sales of King’s Ransom. This unusual arrangement continued until Haim’s death in 1976.

Six years later Pernod Ricard’s then Scotch whisky arm, Campbell Distillers, bought Edradour and the three remaining William Whiteley brands. Among them was the King’s Ransom, which was discontinued in the 1980s.    

Timeline

  • 1861 William Whiteley is born in Yorkshire
  • 1928 Whiteley creates the King’s Ransom blend
  • 1933 Whiteley acquires Edradour distillery
  • 1941 Whiteley dies and cases of the King’s Ransom are found in the shipwrecked SS Politician – the inspiration for Compton Mackenzie’s novel, Whisky Galore!
  • 1982 King’s Ransom is acquired by Pernod Ricard but discontinued later that decade

Owners

Current owner

Previous owner

See also

  • Aberlour Aberlour Aberlour Distillery & brand

    Aberlour

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  • 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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