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New Scotch whisky company begins trading

The owners of Douglas Laing & Co, the successful independent Scotch whisky blenders and bottlers have gone their separate ways to focus on different projects.

Established by Fred Douglas Laing in 1948, Douglas Laing & Co has continued to thrive under the guidance of his sons Fred and Stewart Laing for the last 40 years.  Now, Fred and Stewart are concentrating on the industry in their different ways, with Fred continuing to head up Douglas Laing & Co, while Stewart launches a new company, Hunter Laing & Co

The new Scotch whisky company, Hunter Laing & Co, which began trading on May 1st was formed as an independent bottler and blender by Stewart Laing and his two sons, Andrew and Scott, on February 11th, and is headquartered in Park Circus, Glasgow.

The business benefits from the retention of considerable key assets by Stewart Laing following the de-merger of Douglas Laing & Co’s ownership, which was formalised on April 30th.  These assets include the whisky brands Old Malt Cask, Old & Rare, Douglas Blend, John Player Special and Sovereign, plus a bottling plant, a workforce of eight (not including shareholders) and three generations of whisky business knowhow.

With a network of importers and retailers stretching across 65 markets, Hunter Laing & Co will be embarking on a strategy of strengthening the position of brands now in its portfolio and developing new products to meet the increasing demands of drinkers in Asia, North America and the Nordics, especially.

Joining the business as shareholders are Stewart’s two sons, Andrew and Scott.  Both will be bringing valuable experience to the business – Andrew and Scott were directors of Edition Spirits, an independent bottler of single malt Scotch whisky.  Scott, who has an MBA and a degree in law, is company secretary.  Hunter Laing & Co will bring Edition Spirits and its brands into its fold.

Commenting upon the formation of the new company, Stewart Laing, managing director, said: “My father provided a sound basis for me to have a very enjoyable 40 years in the whisky business so far and with Hunter Laing & Co we’ll see the family tradition maintained for the next generation of the Laing name.  With the industry fast developing, it is important for small players to be flexible, innovate and use their relationships to maximum effect.  The structure of Hunter Laing & Co will allow us to do exactly that as we build momentum with our portfolio of much-loved brands.”

Adding to his father’s comments, Andrew Laing, export director said: “The whisky industry is in buoyant mood and the future outlook is promising.  Being able to join my father in business and glean from him the insight and knowledge that has served him so well will be invaluable as we build Hunter Laing & Co into a major independent blender and bottler.”   

“With Edition Spirits, we secured some fabulous casks for bottling and have developed a sound brand.  The assets now at our disposal will give us a far greater degree of flexibility to create and bottle some very special whiskies.  It’s a challenge that we are all relishing,” said Scott Laing, business development director.

The brands now under Hunter Laing & Co ownership are: single malts – Old Malt Cask, Old & Rare and Douglas of Drumlanrig; blended Scotches – Douglas Blend, John Player Special, Langside and House of Peers; and a single grain – Sovereign.

The bottling facility in East Kilbride, now owned by Hunter Laing & Co, will continue to service third party companies and brands. The new company will be run by its three shareholders, along with David Armour, finance director, and a sales, marketing and operations team of seven.

Meanwhile, Douglas Laing under Fred will continue to offer its Single Cask Provenance range, Director’s Cut, Double Barrel, Premier Barrel, Clan Denny Malts and Grains, Epicurean Blend, the King Of Scots range, McGibbon's and Big Peat.

The assets of Douglas Laing & Co were  split between the two brothers. Stock, brands and other functions of the business have been divided, giving both brothers equal value.

In a joint statement, the brothers said: “The Scotch whisky industry is in great shape at the moment and this presents each of us with the perfect opportunity to diversify and explore different projects with the next generation of our families.

“As drinkers around the world expand their whisky repertoire and seek out new flavours, the opportunities for niche players will flourish.  Our commitment is to creating a solid business for the next generation of our families and the business structures now in place allow us to capitalise on the opportunities the market place provides for their long-term benefit.”

Pictured above: L-R Scott, Stewart and Andrew Laing

7 May 2013 - Felicity Murray