John Crabbie might be better known for ginger wine nowadays, but he was an independent bottler, single malt producer and recognised blender in the 19th century. Crabbie was one of the first to recognise the potential of Scotch whisky and procured a former brewery in Leith in 1852. The Scotsman also had a hand in the creation of North British Distillery, which is still in operation today and is thought to have produced more than 230 billion litres of alcohol since its foundation in 1885.
The John Crabbie company’s fortunes oscillated during the evolution of whisky, like many others, until it was most recently acquired by Halewood International in 2007. Three years later, malt whisky production began at the new multi-million-pound John Crabbie distillery, a short distance from the original 1852 site in the north of Edinburgh.
Dr Kirstie McCallum of Chivas, Distell and Bunnahabhain fame heads up the team which is a 50/50 male/female split. The versatility of the distillery, coupled with McCallum’s desire to innovate, means experimentation with the atypical Lowland new-make spirit in different casks is high on the agenda.
John Crabbie has an exciting cask programme and continues to independently bottle a spate of aged single malts from other distilleries.