Scottish Grocer & Convenience Retailer

Scottish food & drink

Crabbie makes a whisky comeback

Ginger beer brand taps into its historic legacy

David Brown

John Crabbie & Co MD David Brown enjoys a nip of the limited edition 30 Year Old

WHEN drinks industry veteran David Brown brought distilling back to Scotland’s largest city in 2014, the plan was to go out on a high.

Brown was bringing single malt whisky distilling back to Glasgow for the first time in 110 years and, so he thought, this would be a good way to round off his career.

It turns out a quiet retirement wasn’t on the cards for Brown, a co-owner of the Glasgow Distillery Co, which is already serving up spirits through its Makar gin range.

“I’m 59 and I intended Glasgow Distillery Co to be my swan song,” said David.

“However, Halewood came along and said ‘did you know that Edinburgh hasn’t had a malt whisky for over 100 years either?’”

Enter John Crabbie.

A well-kent brand, Crabbie’s is famous for its flagship alcoholic ginger beer and a selection of other ginger twists on classics, but the name on the bottle was first recognised as an Edinburgh distiller, one which Brown reckons today’s brands owe a lot to.

“John Crabbie was instrumental in creating modern whisky.

“What they were trying to achieve in those days was quality. They weren’t trying to start a new category. They were trying to achieve consistency.”

We’re not trying to replicate his whisky; it’s an homage but it’s our eight year old whisky.

It’s this legacy that David and Halewood International are trying to tap into by bringing the Crabbie name back into whisky by reviving the John Crabbie & Co brand.

And they’re not waiting around either. 

Despite not having a working distillery as yet, the brand has made waves with two bottlings, a limited edition 30 year-old expression priced at £500 RRP and the more convenience friendly Crabbie 8-Year-Old – bottled at 46% ABV and priced at £30.

It’s the eight year-old expression in particular that David reckons captures the spirit of John Crabbie.

“The product he was most famous for was an eight year-old. It was a blend. John Crabbie was a pioneer and I think if he was here today he would approve

“We’re not trying to replicate his whisky; it’s an homage to his eight year-old whisky but it’s our eight year-old whisky,” he said.

John Crabbie & Co bottles single malt expressions from across Scotland. MD David Brown hopes to bring single malt whisky distilling back to Edinburgh in the near future.

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