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John Dewar to launch Last Great Malts range

John Dewar & Sons has today announced plans to launch a range of new expressions and never-before-released single malts. 

The single malt Scotch whisky brands of Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Craigellachie, The Devron and Royal Brackla are being launched by under the title of the “Last Great Malts”. Each has a compelling story and character, as depicted in the individual packaging designs that have been across the range by Stranger & Stranger, London.

John Dewar & Sons employs 300 people at seven locations throughout Scotland. The company operates whisky distilleries in Aberfeldy, Macduff, Aultmore, Craigellachie and Nairn with ageing, blending, bottling and packaging facilities in Glasgow and additional maturation facilities in Poniel in Central Scotland. The single malt brands of Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Craigellachie, The Devron and Royal Brackla are part of the Bacardi portfolio.

“The single malt category is one of our industry’s great growth opportunities. We are blessed with five of Scotland’s finest, high-quality whiskies,” says John Burke, dark spirits category director. “We have great respect for the category and are confident that each of the Last Great Malts will be a fitting addition to the repertoire of the most discerning single malt enthusiast.”

“About four years ago we started on the ‘malts project’ with consumer, competitor and market research,” explains single malts global marketing manager, Stephen Marshall, who sees huge potential in developing the company’s single malts range.

“Our malts were mainly being used in blends but we now have stocks of good, character malts aged over 12 years, all produced using Scottish barley.

“I firmly believe that clearly stating the age on each of our single malts is important. In a world of uncertainty, the age statement remains the whisky buyer's primary quality cue.”

Aberfeldy, known as the “golden dram,” draws its water from the Pitilie Burn. Pure and fresh, its waters are famed for containing deposits of alluvial gold. The dram is much admired for its honey notes, displaying a classic central Highland style rarely tasted in single malts today. Named “Highland Whisky of the Year 2014” by Whisky Magazine, Aberfeldy is repackaged and available globally as a 12-year-old and a 21-year-old, with an 18-year-old exclusively available in travel retail, along with miniature bottles of Aberfeldy water. (The distillery has teamed up with Uisge Source, producers of a new range of hand-bottled waters from private springs close to the leading distilleries in the whisky regions of Scotland.) The company also plans to launch a 16-year-old sherry finish and a 30-year-old in 2015.

Stranger & Stranger enhanced the packaging for Aberfeldy with the use of deep black and gold. The design emphasis is on the water source, with the Pitilie Burn represented by the use of gold on the label and secondary packaging. It is not a flat gold, rather one that sparkles like the Scottish alchemy of water, barley and yeast that produces the ‘golden dram’.

To find inspiration for the packaging of the range of Last Great Malts the team had started by talking to all the distillery workers, listening to their stories and the historical tales surrounding each distillery and the character of the whiskies produced. The results for the Aberfeldy, Aultmore and Craigellachie are pictured here, the others are still under wraps.

Specially commissioned hand-drawn illustrations are used throughout the range to show the distillery, the burn, Wade’s Bridge and the birthplace of John Dewar. The hand-crafted nature of Aberfeldy Single Malt is reinforced by its new packaging; casks are drawn showing evaporation of precious whisky during maturation (known as the Angels’ Share), hallmarks are used and the logotype gives the impression of cast iron. A clear nod to the family heritage behind the portfolio of single malts comes in the proud positioning of the Royal Warrant.

Aultmore is a rare Speyside malt known locally as “a nip of the Buckie Road”. The distillery’s water filters down through the misty, mysterious area called the Foggie Moss. Aultmore is rated top-class and is a dram sought after for its gentle grassy notes. Aultmore will be available from November with a 12- year-old, a 21-year-old in Travel Retail, and a 25-year-old in limited quantities.

Craigellachie has released a portfolio of single malts for the first time in history. The distillery stays true to its traditions of whisky-making, including the use of worm tubs – so called for their coiled copper tubing – to cool the spirit. A challenging Speyside whisky, it was described as “old-fashioned” even in 1891 as it makes no concessions to modern-day trends. Single malt fans appreciate Craigellachie for its remarkable sulphuric, savoury, meaty character. Craigellachie makes its way from the distillery doors this month, with a 13-year-old, 17-year-old, a travel retail exclusive 19-year-old, and a limited 23-year-old.

Coming in summer 2015, The Deveron, a new range of 12-, 18- and 25-year-old single malts, made where the River Deveron meets the open seas. Offering “calm from the storm,” it’s the perfect fireside malt. Soft fruity notes combine with an easy drinking style to make The Deveron a favourite with the work force of the distillery.

With a previous limited edition release of a 35-year-old £10,000 (US$15,000) a bottle, Royal Brackla is a truly regal malt. Founded in 1812, in the northern Highlands, it hails from the first distillery bestowed with a royal warrant and has since been lauded as “The King’s Own Whisky”. Heavily sherried, rich, fruity and full, Royal Brackla is a fine dram to savour as it slowly reveals its complexity. To be released in March as 12-year-old, 16-year-old and 21-year-old expressions.

“We have been patiently reserving casks and we are now ready to share the five distinguished malts with whisky lovers around the world – each release features an age statement,” adds Stephen Marshall. “Up until now, these amazing liquids have been Scotland’s best-kept secret, known only to a few. Now we’re appealing to single malt drinkers – people who like stories and enthusiasts who are interested in exploring the aromas of the world’s most complex spirit.”

The single malts, which will be released in phases, will be available as a complete set of five or in various combinations of the expressions in 10 initial markets around the world including Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Sweden, Taiwan, UK, US and global travel retail.

The first public showing of the Last Great Malts single malt Scotch collection will be at the Stockholm Beer & Whisky Festival starting September 25.

For more information on the new single malt expressions, the five distilleries, tasting notes, crafting, and heritage,  visit

24 September 2014 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor