Blend with its roots in Prohibition.
Highland Distillers Profile
Perhaps it was the discerning acquisitions of its board, or the close relationship the company held in whisky blender and agent Robertson & Baxter that led to Highland Distillers’ success. During its time Highland Distillers bought and operated several Scotch distilleries and brands, including Highland Park, Tamdhu, Bunnahabhain, Glenturret, Glenrothes, Glenglassaugh, Macallan, and the Black Bottle and The Famous Grouse blends.
It became part of The Edrington Group in 1999, which was established by the descendants of one of Robertson & Baxter’s founders.
Highland Distillers History
For the best part of its operation, Highland Distillers was focused squarely on the purchase and operation of distilleries to supply the blended whisky brands owned by its close trade partner Robertson & Baxter.
It was established in 1887 with the amalgamation of the Islay Distillery Company – the owner of the newly built Bunnahabhain distillery – and Glenrothes distillery. Robertson & Baxter, the Glasgow whisky merchant and blender, was involved in its set-up, and was the sole selling agent for Highland Distilleries for many years. It even assisted in the purchase of distilleries for the group – in 1892 R&B bought Glenglassaugh near Portsoy and promptly flipped it to Highland Distillers, with a £5,000 mark-up of course.
In 1897 a group of blenders that included William Grant – who was a director of Highland Distillers at the time – built Tamdhu distillery at Knockando, and sold it onto Highland Distillers two years later.
The 20th century brought Highland Distillers ample opportunities to acquire new distilleries, though it was choosy about its purchases. In 1937 it purchased Highland Park on Orkney, though just a year earlier it declined an offer to buy The Glenlivet from George & JG Smith.
Come 1948, following the death of Alexander Robertson, Highland Distillers finally acquired its own shares in Robertson & Baxter, which incestuously maintained its own shares in the former. The two companies worked almost hand-in-hand – Highland Distillers’ malts were used extensively in R&B’s blends, and the companies even had offices in the same building.
The company’s first foray into blended whisky came in 1970 with the acquisition of Matthew Gloag & Son, the Perth whisky merchant and owner of The Famous Grouse blend following the untimely death of Freddie Gloag. It didn’t acquire Glenturret distillery, now the home of The Famous Grouse in Scotland, for another 20 years.
In the years that followed, Highland Distillers added the disused Parkmore distillery buildings, the Black Bottle blend and Macallan distillery to its portfolio.
By 1999 it had grown to become one of the largest distillery operators and blenders in the country. That year Highland Distillers joined The Edrington Group, which had been established in 1961 by the three daughters of James Robertson using the family’s company interests.
Edrington formed the 1887 Company to manage the assets joining its portfolio, which included Highland Park, Tamdhu, Bunnahabhain, Glenturret, Glenrothes, Glenglassaugh, Macallan, Parkmore, and the Black Bottle and Famous Grouse brands. Many have since been sold on, and only Highland Park, Glenturret, Glenrothes, Macallan, Parkmore and Famous Grouse remain with Edrington to this day.
The Edrington Group
2500 Great Western Road
- +44 (0)141 940 4000
Deluxe blend introduced by Matthew Gloag & Sons around the time of The Famous Grouse.
Blending company formed by two First Wold War veterans, best known for its Red Hackle blend.
Perth-based whisky blender best known for its Famous Grouse blended Scotch whisky brand.