Crabbie's return to Scotch with release of John Crabbie whisky brand

The firm behind the famous Crabbie's Green Ginger Wine has released two new single malts and announced plans to build a new distillery in Leith.

Published 24th Jan 2018
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

The new releases, an 8-year-old single malt and a 30-year-old single malt, were announced at an event in the capital hosted by renowned whisky writer Charles MacLean and John Crabbie managing director David Brown.

John Crabbie
Charles MacLean tells the guest a little more about the man himself. Picture: TSPL

Held at the UsquaBae whisky bar on Hope Street, the event saw guests enjoy a Burns supper before Charles MacLean revealed a little of the fascinating history behind John Crabbie, the man who created one of Scotland's most famous exports, Crabbie's Green Ginger Wine, and give his thoughts and tasting notes on the newly released expressions.

Though the John Crabbie brand doesn't yet own its own distillery and can't produce its own whisky - the two new expressions come from two separate unnamed distilleries - managing director David Brown confirmed that the company has plans to build a new distillery in Leith, with Granton Harbour set to be the possible location for the new site.

David Brown said: "What's important to mark was that John Crabbie travelled Scotland picking the best single malts available to him and I think we are carrying on that legacy.

"Our aspirations go way beyond just bottling, now is the time to state that we are bringing single malt distilling back to Leith and plans to build a new distillery are well in hand."

Born in 1806, John Crabbie established a drinks business with premises in Leith, where he exported various drinks products including ginger cordial and imported a range of ingredients - including the all important ginger - from countries as far afield as China and India.

A blender of both whiskies and cordials, John went on to have a hand in the construction and running of several distilleries including working with another giant in the world of whisky, Andrew Usher, to build the North British Distillery, the hugely important grain distillery which still runs today.

Though John died in 1891 his family continued to grow the Crabbie's brand until its eventual sale in the 6os, before current owners Halewood purchased it from then owners LVMH in 2006.

Anja Weise-O'Connor, senior marketing manager at Crabbie's, said: "Our aim is to give the new brand a really strong start. If we want to rebuild John Crabbie as a whisky, we need to ensure we establish consistent quality by sourcing the best liquid we can get our hands on, much like John Crabbie himself would have done.

"It feels like the start of a great journey, we still have so much to discover."

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Charles MacLean added: "My hunch is that Halewood will develop this historic brand around the world much like John Crabbie would have done when he was first starting out."

The first release from the John Crabbie stable will be the 8-year-old expression, which takes its inspiration from one of the more famous Crabbie whiskies of the past, which itself was an 8-year-old blend. Priced at around £30 to £35 a bottle, there will be a limited initial run of around 12,000 bottles of the Highland single malt.

John Crabbie
The 30-year-old John Crabbie whisky. Picture: TSPL

The 30-year-old, which is a lightly peated single malt from Speyside, will retail at around £500 and will be limited to a run of around 330 bottles.

• READ MORE: 8 of the best single malt whiskies to enjoy on Burns Night


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Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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