The family-owned independent blender and bottler, Douglas Laing & Co, was established in 1948 by Fred Douglas Laing.
The former RAF pilot founded the business after he bought the King of Scots brand and the remaining three casks of Scotch whisky for a £1 peppercorn fee from a company he worked for. He started his own filling programme and many of these relationships continue to this day.
Fred Hamilton Laing joined his father’s company in 1971 after completing Victorian-style apprenticeships at Whyte & Mackay and White Horse Distillers. He would later use this experience to blend some of the most collectable whiskies on the market.
In the 1990s, Douglas Laing & Co might have folded if it wasn’t for the company’s substantial stocks. A buoyant 15-20 years in the Asia Pacific markets, driven by a relationship with duty free shoppers, came to a sudden end when the Japanese bubble burst, the Thai Baht sank, and the new Taiwanese dollar encountered difficulties. Consequently, the company turned their stocks into cash and entered the single malt market for the first time.
It took nine years of steady sales before the company could return to the blending business with the launch of Big Peat, an Islay malt. Soon they’d started blending whiskies from the Highlands (Scallywag and Timorous Beastie), the Lowlands (the Epicurean), Campbeltown (the Gauldrons) and the Islands (Rock Island), before launching their Remarkable Regional Malts series.
The family company was split in two in 2013 when brothers Fred and Stewart went their separate ways (with Stewart setting up shop with his son Andrew, launching Hunter Laing). Today, Fred Hamilton Laing’s daughter Cara Laing is the second generation to work in the business, acting as Director of Whisky.
After 70 years, the company decided to start distilling its own liquid, purchasing Strathearn Distillery in 2017. They are currently upgrading the premises to increase volumes, with plans for a second distillery, Clutha, underway.