North British

Distillery Bottlings

Posted 29 August 2018

North British has been producing large quantities of grain whisky (1.25 million each week - primarily for blending) for over 120 years. But, increasingly, the distillery is being bottled as a single grain in its own right – Whiskybase lists thirty different independent expressions produced in 2017 – from a 6 year old Duncan Taylor Octave all the way to a 55 year old Douglas Laing XOP bottling. It seems somewhat strange that the distillery itself has not sought to bottle more of its own product – to date there’s only been four releases - two 1980 vintage cask strength expressions, and limited edition 40 and a 50 year olds.

Independent Bottlings

Bramble Whisky Company

Posted 19 August 2021

Bramble Whisky Company’s second release is the youngest North British I’ve seen bottled – the closest alternative being a 6 year old Duncan Taylor Octave from a few years back. But, whilst barely out of nappies, this grain whisky has been fully matured in a virgin American oak cask – the result of which, the bottler describes as “…about as close as you can get to a Scotch-bourbon hybrid…”. 375 bottles have been produced at 46% ABV. They’re available via Mothership (Bramble’s parent company) for £50.


Posted 19 February 2020

Older whiskies turn heads. We’ve been taught for generations that older is better – fine wine, venerated spirits or simply times now past – history, and certainly whisky is often presented as an enhanced, more desirable version of today. Forget a better future and dig into your pockets for a glimpse at a forgotten past – things were magical back then. Spirits crafted during this supposed golden age and left to slumber for extended periods of time have an undeniable allure about them. Your very own piece of history – an opportunity to taste the past – the prospect of tasting (or just possessing) something that’s older than you are….at least for the time being.


Posted 06 October 2023

Ever since bottling my own well-aged North British last month, I’m finding myself hunting down as many similarly aged examples to compare and contrast with as I can get my hands on. Each one I’ve sampled of late has ticked boxes in terms of both approachability and drinkability. And on occasion that’s exactly what’s called for. Not every whisky experience needs to be either intricate or ethereal – sometimes there’s simple pleasures to be found in a dram being nothing more or less than an agreeable drinking experience.

Master of Malt

Posted 29 March 2018

The North British Distilling Company (NBDC) was formed in 1885 to provide an alternative source of grain whisky for the blending market – Distillers Company Limited (DCL) had maintained an iron-clad grasp on much of the grain market since 1877 (manipulating supply to affect both prices and demand) until the new North British distillery was constructed in Edinburgh near both the railway and Union canal. The site quickly expanded its production, and by WWII was producing 9,000,000 litres of spirit each year. The distillery is now somewhat ironically owned jointly by Diageo and Edrington – DCL became United Distillers in 1987 and then several years later Diageo. So, in effect, North British is now 50% owned by the company it set out to compete with back in the late 19th Century.

Moon import

Posted 26 October 2018

Moon Import have quite the reputation in whisky enthusiast circles – the Italian bottler is known (like several other Italian bottlers) for picking exceptionally good casks of liquid. A quick look at Whiskybase will give some idea of how well-rated its releases have become over the years. Quite probably even more so since 2015 when, after 35 years of operation, the company sadly shuttered its doors. Over the years, Moon Import produced a number of landmark whisky series – all with stunningly illustrated labels – birds, historic costumes, cars and the sea have all featured. And, so have shoes.

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Posted 08 November 2018

Middle-aged grain from North British, but with a bit of a twist – 25 years in an ex-oloroso butt followed by a finishing period in a 2nd fill butt with a heavy toast and medium char. A pretty high ABV on this one considering the age. Sweet & spicy profile.

That Boutique-y Whisky Company

Posted 07 December 2018

Any of you noticing that grain whiskies are getting more expensive? No one should be overly surprised by this – whisky as category seems pretty Teflon currently – folks are buying, no matter the cost. There’s still a world of difference between single malt and single grain in terms of pricing (especially at high age), but, I’ve been observing a few bottlers starting to experiment with big pricing on some of their grains – and if I’m honest, I find it worrisome. Take this 44 year old Invergordon from Douglas Laing for instance – sure, it’s an oldie, but £295 sounds like big bucks when you compare it to Boutique-y’s similarly aged expression at £143 (around £200 for an equivalent 70cl).



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