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The Story of Crabbie
John Crabbie was born on the 2nd of December 1806. His father was Miller Crabbie, owner of a grocer at 15 Canongate in Edinburgh. Upon reaching adulthood John would look away from the family business and form a partnership with one William Cree. Together they traded in a variety of drinks products, the most successful of which was a ginger cordial.
When Cree passed away in 1840, the company was renamed John Crabbie & Co and began to focus on the Scotch whisky industry. John started to create his own blends and even acquired licenses to distil spirit at the likes of Balmenach and Benrinnes. He went on to acquire the Haddington Grain Distillery in East Lothian, helping to provide a steady supply of grain whisky for his blends.
In 1885, John teamed up with Andrew Usher and William Sanderson to create the North British Distilling Company. Their grain distillery on the Western outskirts of Edinburgh would provide opposition to the newly formed DCL, giving them greater access to this most crucial component of blended Scotch. With John acting as chairman, the distillery became a great success and was producing an impressive 13 million litres per year by 1897, an amount equal to some of the largest malt distilleries even today.
John never lived to see such quantities, however. He passed away at his home in Royal Terrace in 1891, leaving the business to his two sons. By 1963, Crabbie & Co had come under the ownership of old rival DCL, with the last whiskies to bear the name disappearing in the 1970s.
Today, however, new owners Halewood International have begun to revisit the company’s distilling past. 2018 saw the release of a new range of single malts, produced at undisclosed distilleries. At the forefront of the project was an 8 year old, loosely based on the original blend the company was best known for.
Bottled at 46%, Crabbie’s 8 year old single malt retails at the very affordable price of £30 a bottle.
Smell: Vanilla, toffee & caramel. Orange. Oat biscuits. Almonds. Apple juice.
Taste: Caramel fudge. Honey. Citrus orange and a touch of lime. Malty biscuits and salted peanuts. Some light peppery heat.
Thoughts: £30 for a non-chill filtered, age-stated single malt is not be sniffed at. There’s also a decent depth of flavour on display and a satisfyingly weight mouthfeel. I doubt it’ll become anyone’s favourite dram, but it’s a solid option for those on a budget. This all makes for a promising start to Crabbie’s return whisky and with plans for a new distillery in Edinburgh, the future looks rather exciting for this historic brand.
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