Duncan Taylor

Duncan Taylor was founded in Glasgow as a cask trader and broker in 1938 and is now one of Scotland’s pre-eminent independent bottlers of single malt and single grain whiskies, as well as being the custodians of the Black Bull blended whisky brand. 

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Duncan Taylor was founded in Glasgow as a cask trader and broker in 1938 and is now one of Scotland’s pre-eminent independent bottlers of single malt and single grain whiskies, as well as being the custodians of the Black Bull blended whisky brand. 

In the late 1960s Duncan Taylor Co. was acquired by Abe Rosenberg, an American blender who built up a large stock of thousands of casks, blending and exporting several proprietary brands back to the USA. Following Rosenberg’s death in 1994, the company was run by a trust and was mostly dormant. 

Around the turn of the millennium Glendronach alumnus Euan Shand and his business partner Alan Gordon were approached by the trust to buy some casks and were so impressed with the stock that they bought the company, taking ownership in 2002. Gordon left the business in 2006 to pursue other projects and Shand took over full control.  Duncan Taylor relocated their business premises to Huntly, Aberdeenshire in 2014 and as of 2021 Euan Shand is now the Chairman of the company, and his wife Moji Shand is CEO.

Duncan Taylor began bottling a large range of single malts, single grains and blended whiskies under various different labels immediately following Shand and Gordon’s takeover in 2002, the most important of which are summarised below.

Whisky Galore, NC² and Lonach

The Whisky Galore series had begun with a handful of bottlings in 2001. These were mostly youngish single malts and almost all were bottled at 46%. This range was superseded in 2006 by the NC² series since when bottlings have been very occasional. At the time of writing the Whisky Galore label has been repurposed for a mystery Speyside single malt bottled as a 7-year-old.

The NC² series (meaning Not Coloured, Non-Chillfiltered) ran from 2006-2011 when it was itself replaced by the Duncan Taylor Dimensions series. In the same period The Lonach Collection series was launched, bottling mostly long-aged malts with cask strengths that had gone under 46%.

Peerless

Duncan Taylor’s Peerless series was one of the most important ranges from 2002 until 2011 and included some absolutely legendary bottlings. In the first year alone there were a string of amazing 1960s vintages from Macallan, Springbank, Longmorn and several stunning Bowmores, among many others. The timing was perfect, as interest in these types of long-aged whiskies was really starting to take off and many of these bottles were released at prices that would make today’s collectors weep with jealousy.

Rare Auld & Rarest of the Rare

Launched at the same time as the Peerless series, the Rare Auld is a prestige range showcasing highlights of Abe Rosenberg’s collection of casks of single malt and single grain whisky. Most of these whiskies were over 30 years old and all were bottled at full strength, again without colouring or chill-filtration. Needless to say, there were some all-time classics in here. Since 2011 the Rare Auld series has focused exclusively on single grain whiskies.

The Rarest of the Rare range appeared in 2004 and was a treasure trove of amazing long-aged whiskies from some of the rarest lost distilleries including Kinclaith, Ladyburn (bottled as Ayrshire), Caperdonich and Glenugie. The last Rarest of the Rare bottlings were in 2012.

Dimensions

Following a major brand shakeup in 2011 the Dimensions series took over as Duncan Taylor’s core single malt range. Dimensions bottlings are released without colouring or chill-filtration but with an important difference from the Whisky Galore and NC² series: the Dimensions series are almost without exception bottled at cask strength, a policy that the company has adhered to for the vast majority of its bottlings since 2011.

The Octave

As part of the new-look range of bottlings from 2011, Duncan Taylor’s Octave series was introduced and is now one of the company’s signature ranges. The Octave series features single malts that have been recasked into specially made Octave casks, which are re-coopered from large Oloroso or Pedro Ximenez sherry butts - each butt is used to make eight small Octave casks around 70-80 litres in capacity.  

The Octave series features whiskies that have been finished in the Octave casks for a short period, usually 5-6 months. As the Octaves are so small, the outturn is normally only 80-100 bottles of each release.

Black Bull

Duncan Taylor also bottle several blended whiskies and blended malts.  The most significant of these brands is Black Bull blended whisky, which was acquired by the company in the 1990s but lay dormant for several years.

Black Bull is a historic blend first produced in Dundee in the 1860s. The brand came to prominence in post-Prohibition America in the 1930s, famed for its high malt content of 50%, and high strength - it was usually bottled at 50% although 43% and rare 40% editions were also produced. Black Bull remained an important export brand in Europe as well, particularly in Italy, until the 1980s.  

The Black Bull brand was revived and restyled in 2009 and now has an expanded core range including the Kyloe NAS blend alongside several different age statement bottlings ranging from 8 to 40 years old, as well as occasional small batch limited editions.  All of the Black Bull range are bottled at 50% except for the 40-year-old, the current batch of which has an 86% malt content and is bottled at its cask strength of 47.6%.


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