James Buchanan & Co: A Piece of Scotland in Every Sip
You can take a Scotsman out of Scotland, but you can seldom take the hallowed Scotland out of a Scotsman. An apt example is James Buchanan. Born to Scottish parents in Canada and brought up in Northern Ireland, this man, revered for his principles and values, found his calling in (and you may well guess right) the ‘dear green place’, Glasgow. What followed is a story worth rediscovering.
A 14-year-old Buchanan moved to Glasgow to work as an office boy for a shipping firm. There, he ran errands, but his diligence soon earned him the position of a clerk. By 1968, though, he had had enough of his job and moved on to helping his brother with his grains business. It won’t be incorrect to assume that it is at this point when he started learning more about grains and seeds, which must have led to his expertise with whisky making in years to come. If one charts Buchanan’s life, the most salient features of the man wouldn’t be hard to understand. Considered a pioneer of whisky, his peers also realised through various instances that his resolve and principles were immovable. After working in the grain business, he moved to London to work for a whisky firm. He soon realised that London and the rest of England had a huge demand for Scotch whisky. He set out, without wasting any more time, to explore this untapped market. Hence, came into being what we today know as James Buchanan & Co. The year was 1884 and the boy who had left home to earn £10-an-year was now 35. The very next year, he became the sole supplier of whisky to the British Parliament. It is fair to say that it took him less than 17 years from first feeling and understanding grains to becoming the exclusive supplier of one of the finest blends of whiskies in all of United Kingdom. Between the years 1901 and 1907, Buchanan became the official supplier for the British Royalty, the Emperor of Japan and the Royal Court of Spain. A remarkably inspirational story of a man with superior business acumen and yet not compromising on his values.
The house of Buchanan is revered across the world for the quality of its offerings. The legacy of Scotch whisky is well-served by James Buchanan & Co. And, in the quest of being a player of distinction and to be seen as a flag bearer, the family has constantly strived to have a signature imprint on whisky-lovers’ hearts and palates. The company has a broad offering of three flagship brands which have all enthralled connoisseurs around the globe. First of the offerings is Buchanan’s 12 DeLuxe blend. As the name hints, this is a 12-year-old whisky that has stood test to time for over 130 years. This is not just a classic whisky that has won multiple awards, but it is also one of the most iconic Scotch blends in the world. Ironically, this is the first brand that Buchanan put his label on, though it was then called Buchanan’s Finest Liquor. It has a slightly fruity taste with delicate notes of chocolate and orange. It is best had with soda or on the rocks. If you fancy a cocktail more, you can add a dash of apple cider, cola or coco water. Buchanan’s Master is a regal delight. Among number of accolades and awards is the double gold medal in the prestigious World Spirits Competition of 2014 in San Francisco. The most awe-inspiring aspect of this whisky is the blend of malts from every single region of Scotland. Keith Law, the world-renowned master blender, is the one who handpicks the malt for Buchanan’s Master. It is best had with soda or on the rocks. Popular garnishes include peppermint and rosemary leaves. Given its taste and nature, cocktails may not be best-meant to experience its taste, but a dash of ginger ale or sweet vermouth isn’t a bad idea to experiment with. Buchanan’s 18 Special Reserve is a marriage of grain whiskies and single malts, and the blend is aged for 18 years in oaks that had previously held and matured sherry. This one is rich yet delicate and has flavours of honey, citrus, nuts and, of course, oak. Most connoisseurs of Scotch whisky are Special Reserve loyalists. Having it neat or on the rocks come highly recommended as cocktails would contort the fine blend of elements that this whisky epitomises.
James Buchanan, his company and his offerings, over almost the last century and a half, have been synonymous to the unwavering resolve of providing nothing less than the best. Buchanan’s qualities and virtues are best testified by the excellent reviews it has constantly salvaged over the years. And, it also perhaps rightly goes on to show the relationship it has developed with whisky critics and lovers alike. After all, what is a good single malt without double the joy?