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Usquaebach

Pronounced ‘oos-ke-bah’ (your welcome), Usquaebach is a Gaelic word that means ‘the water of life’ which is we derive the very word, ‘whisky’ from. Scholars may also recognise it from the Robert Burns’ 1791 poem Tom O’Shanter, “Wi Usquaebach we’ll face the de’il”*.

The origins of the Scotch whisky brand Usquaebach, however, don’t stretch back quite as far as that, although it can be traced to 1800, the year when spirits merchants Ross & Cameron established themselves in Inverness. It was Ross & Cameron that registered the first trademark for ‘The Usquaebach’ in 1877. Following the death of Cameron in 1926, William Grigor & Sons purchased the company, a spirits trading company would later acquire Bowmore Distillery on Islay in 1950.

It remained in their hands until 1969, when Twelve Stone Flagons Ltd, owned by the eccentric Stanley Stankiwicz, purchased the trademark. However, the deal did not include the distillery, which had already been sold to blender Stanley P. Morrison, which left Stankiwicz with no means of making Usquaebach. An appointment with a maker of hand-stone flagons (a receptacle that has become synonymous with Usquaebach), he was recommended Douglas Laing, who said they would be honored to make it.

Following numerous legal battles and a refusal to sell the product to a retail chain, Stankiwicz finally attained the rights to distribute Usquaebach in the United States, which he did initially in a Winnebago, promoting from retailer to retailer. Stankiwicz would later claim his persistent marketing led to Usquaebach becoming Sean Connery’s ‘must-have whiskey’ and that he even presented Prince Rainier of Monaco with a special bottling adorned with the royal crest.

By the time Stankiwicz got involved Usquaebach had already solidified itself an impressive reputation however, as a blend of quality and character, and had become something of a favourite in the White House. The Old Rare

edition was served at President Richard Nixon’s White House Inaugural Dinner in 1969, and would repeat the feat again in 1989, for President George H.W. Bush’s White House Inaugural Dinner.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for Stankiwicz at Usquaebach, however, and in the early 1990s, he gambled on moving the product to mass-producer Whyte & Mackay from Douglas Laing. The folly of this error wouldn’t be known until Stankiwicz died in 2001, when Whyte & Mackay assumed the rights and subsequently ceased production of Usquaebach, noting it as a competitor for its other whisky brands.

This particularly story does have a happy ending, however. Cobalt Brands purchased the trademark in 2005 and revived Usquaebach, which now continues to assert itself as an esteemed Scotch brand with a number of iconic whiskies. Modern releases such as Usquaebach Reserve are available here.

*”With Usquaebach we’ll face the devil” - again, your welcome.

Usquaebach An Ard Ri Cask Strength (2016 Release)

70cl, 57.1%

A limited edition release of Usquaebach blended malt Scotch whisky, bottled at cask strength and bestowed the name 'An Ard Ri', which translate from Gaelic to 'The High King'. 2,000 blue glass…  More info

Usquaebach An Ard Ri Cask Strength (2016 Release)
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$193.33

Usquaebach Reserve

70cl, 43%

Rich in soft orchard fruit, quince and warming Sherried spice notes, Usquaebach Reserve is a rather yummy blended Scotch whisky, made with over 50% malt whiskies.  More info

Usquaebach Reserve
$32.07

Usquaebach Old Rare - 1980s

75cl, 43%

The is a very handsome bottle of Usquaebach Old Rare from the 1980s. Even today, after being released in 2009 (following a period where Usquaebach was gone from shelves), this classic blend can still…  More info

Usquaebach Old Rare - 1980s
$154.20

Usquaebach Old Rare

70cl, 43%

A very traditionally-styled decanter of Usquaebach blended Scotch whisky made from 41 different whiskies, with a rather high proportion of malt whisky at its core.  More info

Usquaebach Old Rare
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