Long Live VAT 69

William Sanderson a liquor manufacturer born in Leith, Scotland, was the man behind VAT 69. This famous and popular brand was first made in 1882. At the age of 13, Sanderson worked for a wine producer as an apprentice. By 1863, he had established a business of his own. The company was called North British Distillery. In 1880, his son William Mark became a part of the business who persuaded Sanderson to bottle his own indigenous blends. Encouraged, Sanderson created 100 varied vats of whisky. He also hired a panel of expert tasters who could tell the difference between the blends and select the finest. They unanimously adjudged the batch from cask 69 as the best, which led to the name VAT 69. (However, this is not actually vatted malt.) Sanderson wanted to focus on a blend which would represent the Sanderson House.

Tracing the history

VAT 69 is a blend of 40 grain and malt whiskies. The distinctive logo is a copy of the number written on the original cask.  It must be mentioned that it does not come with an age statement owing to the combination of the grains and malts. This was the flagship blend of William Sanderson and Son Limited. In 1933, the company merged with Booth’s Distilleries which further merged with the DCL group in 1935. A major fire broke out in the VAT 69 building on 24th April, 1949. The building closed down until October 1952. There was a second fire on 7th November 1965. Sanderson is now owned by Diageo which is headquartered in London. A major portion of the stock is exported from UK. Diageo’s main markets are in Greece, Spain, Australia and Venezuela. Interestingly, VAT 69 is popular in India as well.

Minute intricacies

VAT 69 was previously bottled in port bottles but today, it comes in classy green bottles. The colour of the liquor is light with a tinge of brown. The nose is intense at first, but mellows with time. It feels light-bodied on the palate and slightly creamy in the mouth. With each sip you experience the rush of cereal notes and sweet sugary caramel. The sweet finish is lengthy but turns woody and better before creating an alcoholic tingle in the mouth. With each sip the syrupy spice-seasoned sweetness gradually retreats into the background and is partially replaced with wood, smoky flavors. The finish is warm.

Evolving into a well-known brand

The making of the liquor has not changed in the last 100 years. It is still a fine blend which is competing with the top notch spirits at present. It is priced competitively and is a great buy. Although VAT 69 is originally from Scotland, nowadays it is produced in Australia and Germany as well. As per records, VAT 69 was among the first Scotch whiskies which landed in India. The liquor holds 20% of the volume share of the market. Diageo has revealed that it is increasing distribution of VAT 69 from 17,000 outlets to over 30,000 outlets. It is also engaging in on premise activation exercises mostly in restaurants, hotels and clubs.

A class apart

When VAT 69 was re-launched in September, 2010, the company aimed at creating a shelf-life and a suitable positioning vying for the top spot among global spirits brands. Both the label and the bottle presented the equity and essence of the brand. The heritage cues were retained and the packaging easily reminded buyers of the brand’s historical past. The trademark black rectangular label with white stenciled and gold embellishment showcases smart craftsmanship.

You may be among those who have a high level of emotional engagement with the brand you consume. Indeed, VAT 69 may not have disappointed you in the past. Neither will it let you down in the near future. Once a loyalist, you will not regret choosing VAT 69 over the rest.