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‘We sold out in eight minutes!’: Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky’s Octave proves a winner after Sunday Brunch slot

Alexandra Burke samples  the Dalmunach.
Alexandra Burke samples the Dalmunach.

Aberdeenshire firm Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky sold out one of its products in only eight minutes after it impressed singer Alexandra Burke when featured on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch.

An appearance on weekly lifestyle show Sunday Brunch has boosted the profile of Huntly firm Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky.

Duncan Taylor had one of their new Octave whiskies (which are matured in smaller casks) showcased on the popular show which saw celebrity guest Alexandra Burke trying the whisky alongside the hosts Tim Lovejoy and Simon Rimmer.

Tied in with International Women’s Day on March 8, the spirits expert Karina Elias was featured live from the Red Bar in Grosvenor House, Mayfair, and talked about three spirits companies that were spearheaded by women.

Hailing the Duncan Taylor’s Dalmunach Octave 2016 four-year-old as “the most delicious whisky I’ve tasted this year”, Elias went on to mention Moji Shand, who has been CEO of the Aberdeenshire company since 2012.

Some 50% of Duncan Taylor’s Scotch Whisky employees are women, including the sales director, production manager and finance manager.

The Dalmunach on the show.

Pioneers

The company were pioneers of using Octaves for the maturation process and the whisky chosen by the show had spent seven months of its second maturation in a second fill Oloroso sherry Octave cask which, as the name suggests, is an eighth of the size of a normal cask.

Yielding only 94 bottles and with a price of £55, viewers were directed to Tyndrum Whisky Shop in Perthshire for purchase, which then sold out of all the bottles within eight minutes of appearing on the show.

Moji Shand was delighted when the TV show confirmed that the Octave Dalmunach was going to appear.

Moji Shand.

“It was a double whammy for us. One, it was a chance to speak about the fantastic women that work in our company and two, whilst it’s easy for us to bang on about how good our whiskies are, it’s always great to get them recognised on such a big platform as this,” she said.

Selling out in record time, manager of Tyndrum Whisky Shop Craig Dearden was also pleased to get a plug on the show.

He added: “We knew this whisky would be popular but we simply couldn’t cope with the demand on Sunday after it appeared. We could have sold it 10 times over and it probably still wouldn’t have been enough.”

Both Alexandra Burke and Tim Lovejoy enjoyed the dram, but Simon Rimmer hailed it his favourite spirit of the week as part of their “Drinkipoos” section. After the show, he even tweeted it to his 270,000 followers.

Fantastic

Brand ambassador Fergus Simpson said it was fantastic exposure for Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky.

“It went across very well, the entire stock of the Octave Dalmunch sold out in eight minutes flat,” he said.

“Our CEO is Moji Shand and it was a tie in with spirit companies that have women in charge – that was the hook, and as we have a woman who is our CEO we were featured.”

The Dalmunach.

And using octaves rather than traditional casks sees the company produce whiskies that have a faster maturation process.

“Our chairman Euan Shand has been in the whisky business all his life and he started out as a cooper. He’s known for a long time if you put whisky into a small cask you have more interaction with the wood and the whisky will mature far faster. That’s the whole thing about it – a small cask makes a big whisky,” revealed Fergus.

“The octave casks are one-eighth of a sherry butt. A sherry butt is about 500 litres and an octave is about 60 / 70 litres. They are hand-made for us in Spain. The cooperage take a traditional sherry butt, a large cask, and cut it down and re-make them for us.”

Brand Ambassador Fergus Simpson.

Online tastings

And like companies in all sectors, selling online and organising virtual events have been key during the coronavirus lockdown.

“We have been doing online tastings which have been very well received and we are slowly raising our profile in the UK. I have been brand ambassador for four years and I have travelled all over the world raising our profile,” he said.

“We have a monthly tasting on our Facebook page. They last about an hour-and-a-half and we usually go through five different whiskies.

“They have been doing really well and we are selling between 200 and 300 tasting kits for each of these online tastings which have helped us during lockdown.

“We are a local company and our chairman is from Huntly who went to school here and we export all over the world. It’s great for us to make a bit of progress.”

History

Owned and run by the Shand family, Euan Shand bought Duncan Taylor in 2002, but its history dates back to 1938 when it was launched in Glasgow.

The company has its own facilities for cask storage, cooperage and bottling in Huntly, being independent bottlers with a huge portfolio including Black Bull whisky, The Octave, Dimensions and The Rarest.

They also own one of the largest privately-held collections of vintage and rare scotch whisky casks in the world.

Duncan Taylor are the pioneers of using the Octave process for whisky maturation and  Euan Shand has experimented by maturing whiskies in smaller casks for nearly 40 years.

Euan grew up in the whisky business with his father, the late Albert Shand, being a former manager of the Glendronach Distillery and Euan grew up in a house on the distillery grounds.

His wife, two sons and daughter-in-law all work in the business.

Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky has a vast portfolio of Octave whiskies that sell globally and are already planning to release another Dalmunach Octave in the next few weeks.


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