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United States Imports: A Spotlight on Whyte & Whyte

Features

18.02.2021

Head of Auction Content, Joe Wilson, discusses the love for single malt across the pond and the Chicago-based firm, Whyte & Whyte..

Whyte and Whyte Independent Whisky Label

Head of Auction Content, Joe Wilson, discusses the love for single malt across the pond and the Chicago-based firm, Whyte & Whyte..

Head of Auction Content, Joe Wilson, discusses the love for single malt across the pond and the Chicago-based firm, Whyte & Whyte..

While the popularity of single malt Scotch whisky in the United Kingdom is considered as having really found its feet in the 1980s, the appetite for it in the United States was historically strong, with exports making their way across the Atlantic as the final page of the prohibition act was torn up in 1930.

Distilleries such as Glen Grant and Laphroaig have long associations with the U.S. market, and were quick to repopulate American store shelves and bars in the decades following Prohibition.

The surge in popularity of single malt towards the end of the 20th century no doubt benefitted Scottish distillers, but in the U.S. it was arguably independent bottlers who were best served by market developments. The change to 70cl bottles in 1991 was incompatible with the former US requirement for the old 75cl size. This ruling remained in place until 2020 and some distillers were never able to break into the market there due to the expense of buying their bespoke, branded bottles in multiple sizes. Independent labels, with their simpler packaging did not have such problems, and the appeal of their more varied catalogues made them favourable partners with U.S. distributors.Names like Cadenhead’s, Douglas Laing and Vintage Hallmark of St. James became prominent, the popularity of which was a catalyst for certain U.S. importers to create their own labels, a model which found success in Italy in the 1980s through names like Samaroli, Intertrade and Sestante.

The most notable of these was Whyte & Whyte, a Chicago-based firm who worked in partnership with bottlers Wm. Cadenhead and Signatory Vintage. Through these partnerships Whyte & Whyte were able to offer bottles that were revered for their quality, with names like The Macallan and Clynelish featuring prominently in their catalogue. Significantly it also led to the inclusion of distilleries which had recently closed, like Pittyvaich, Dallas Dhu and Glen Albyn, or were yet to establish their own single malt brands like Pulteney, Balmenach and Mortlach. Whyte & Whyte’s reputation is built on this diverse offering of rare, unusual and high quality whiskies, something that is well reflected in The Perfect Collection.

Joe Wilson

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