White Horse Distillers Profile

When ‘restless’ Sir Peter Mackie died in 1924, the company took the unusual step of reorganising and renaming itself after its best-known product. Sir Peter’s company had been making White Horse blended whisky since the 1880s, the name originating from a coaching inn on Edinburgh’s Canongate that was also owned by the Mackie family.

White Horse Distillers History

The name White Horse was long associated with the Mackie family of Edinburgh. They acquired the White Horse Inn in Canongate, Edinburgh around 1650 and it stayed in the family until 1917 with the death of the last male descendant. The inn was the starting point for one of the express coaches to London, and Dr. Samuel Johnson stayed there with James Boswell before they travelled to the Hebrides.

The company can trace its history to 1880 when James Logan Mackie founded whisky merchant James Logan Mackie & Co., which by 1884 held a stake in Islay distillery Lagavulin with Capt. Graham. Taking the name from the inn James owned in Edinburgh’s Canongate, it launched White Horse Blended Whisky.

In 1890 his nephew Peter Mackie, who had trained at Lagavulin, became a partner in the firm which then changed its name to Mackie & Co. The following year the company trademarked the name White Horse and became a partner in the newly built Craigellachie distillery, eventually taking full ownership in 1919. That same year the company also purchased Greenlees & Colville Ltd, which owned the Hazelburn distillery in Campbeltown.

On Sir Peter Mackie’s death in 1924, the company went through a re-organisation and non-core activities such as the BBM (Bone, Blood & Muscle) flour operation were sold off and the company changed its name to White Horse Distillers Ltd., after its best known product. The company also closed the Hazelburn distillery, despite trying to rebrand the product as a Kintyre whisky to overcome the poor reputation of Campbeltown whiskies at the time.

In 1927 White Horse Distillers Ltd. was taken over by the Distillers Company Ltd (DCL) which, for a number of years, used it as a holding company and granted it the licence to a number of distilleries including Lagavulin and Glen Elgin.

DCL also withdrew White Horse blended whisky from its home market, concentrating on overseas sales, and, although the whisky itself is still produced, new owner Diageo dissolved White Horse Distillers Ltd. as a company in 2010.

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