Earlier this year, The original Douglas Laing company shocked the whisky world announcing it was breaking down to 2 companies: Douglas Laing (which retained the original name and HQ) headed by Fred Laing, joined by his daughter Cara and the new Hunter Laing company headed by Stewart Laing with his 2 sons Scot and Andrew.
I was very curious to hear and see how the new company has setup and what are their plans so I reached out to them and setup a visit at their new HQ.
Scott Laing which holds the title of Business Development Director, received us along with his father Stewart, which was due to leave but waited for us to greet us warmly and to tell us of the good experience they had with Israelis in the past (Hurray!). After Stewart left, Scott husked us up to the meeting room where we sat down to discuss and taste whisky. We started with coffee and then a lovely 23 yo Cameronbridge grain whisky from their ‘The Sovereign’ line:
We covered many topics:
- General whisky market and their strong sales markets – far east seems to be a big hit for them along with France.
- Their strategy for handling stock levels and demand forecasting.
- How they plan to go forward with their brands and marketing – They are investing a lot of time and money in building awareness to their company, after all – building a new brand isn’t an easy task. Lately they released a new line of Old Malt Cask bottlings to celebrate the brand 15th b-day along with upgraded lovely labels.
- Setting up the company HQ – still working on getting the HQ tasting/hosting room more cozy and homely.
When Scott and his brother Andrew joined their father in Hunter Laing, they didn’t come alone – they brought with them into the fold their own company with their own brand – ‘The First Editions‘. The way I see it, this brand is filling a void for Hunter Laing. ‘Old and Rare’ covers the premium part, ‘Old Malt Cask’ covers the high-end part and ‘The First Editions’ will fill the gap below for good, accessible yet affordable expressions.
We started with a 18 yo Miltonduff which was very good:
and then we had a very pleasant surprise – the highlight for me – the best Bowmore I ever had (and we went to Bowmore the day after and tasted some good stuff there!)
Scott and Andrew shows that the Whisky genes are well present and strong in the 3rd Laing generation – they managed to select good casks in their young age so there’s no doubt the legacy will go one at Hunter Laing.
Just before we left we got to try some sample from their samples stand:
Yup, a Port Ellen sample. As you can expect, this one will be eventually bottled under their ‘Old and Rare’ brand and I can tell you it’s good, very good (and will be uber expensive).
And then it was time to leave 😦
Overall it was a very interesting visit. A new company but with history, experience and with ambition. They have the well known brands as OMC and ‘Rare and Old’ but I tell you – keep an eye on ‘The First Editions’ brand – what we tasted was superb and with Serge (of whiskyfun) giving some good marks to other expressions from this brand , they are off with a good start. Look out!