Today this historic Scotch brand created by Macdonald & Muir covers both blends and single malts.
The Highland Queen Scotch Whisky Company Profile
The company is based at Ednam House, Kelso, in the Scottish Borders, and uses the Highland Queen brand name for a diverse selection of whiskies, which sell in more than 60 different markets including Scandinavia, Northern Europe, the Middle East, South America and Asia.
Using the Majesty suffix, the brand also offers Highland single malts, stretching from an NAS expression right up to a 52-year-old bottling. It is reasonable to suppose that the majority of these are sourced from Tullibardine distillery in Perthshire, which is owned by Picard Vins & Spiritueux.
The Highland Queen Scotch Whisky Company History
The Highland Queen brand of blended Scotch has its origins in the 1893 partnership between Leith-based whisky entrepreneurs Roderick Macdonald and Alexander Muir, who formed Macdonald & Muir Ltd in that year. Mary, Queen of Scots had landed at Leith on her return from France in 1561, and this inspired the name of Macdonald & Muir’s principal blend.
In order to secure supplies of malt for blending, the company acquired a share in Glenmorangie distillery in 1918, going on to take full ownership during the 1930s, while Glen Moray distillery was purchased in 1920.
By the late 1970s, Highland Queen was one of the best-known blends in the world, but the company’s focus on single malts led to a decline in sales of the brand. From a peak of 900,000 cases – and representation in more than 95% of the world – the blend was selling less than 20,000 cases by 2008.
It passed to Moët Hennessy with the rest of Macdonald & Muir’s assets in 2004, but 2008 saw Highland Queen purchased by the Bordeaux-based family firm of Picard Vins & Spiritueux, which has expanded the range of expressions dramatically.