By the late 1990’s and the first year or two of the new millenium, you could walk into most better-stocked bottleshops and find around 10 to 15 different distilleries to choose from.
Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Macallan, Highland Park, Bunnahabhain, Longmorn, Balvenie, Glenfarclas, Laphroaig, and the six Classic Malts from UDV (Glenkinchie, Oban, Dalwhinnie, Cragganmore, Talisker, and Lagavulin) were the usual suspects, with other names also floating about sporadically. However, this meagre list was but a small representation of the 100-odd distilleries in Scotland.
Where could whisky lovers access the lesser-known distilleries?
Again, in a strangely linear handing on of the mantle, as both Case and Le Cornu wound down their operations, another entity stepped up. And, by now, the internet had arrived to expand possibilities. Courtesy of internet bulletin boards, forums and chat rooms, Australia’s whisky community was now suddenly linked. And one particular retailer reached out and made the connection into that community. Baily & Baily, a family-owned liquor business established in 1987, had a number of retail outlets in Adelaide by this time.
Prompted and initially guided by Le Cornu, their St George’s Cellars outlet became a destination store for malt whisky fans but, more importantly, they also operated an email subscription and newsletter service that went out to whisky lovers around the country. This was, effectively, the first dedicated online whisky delivery operation in Australia. Curated and operated by Graham Wright, Baily & Baily would bring in two or three shipments per year of whisky from distilleries, bottlers, and expressions otherwise unavailable in Australia, and subscribers would receive notification every three or four months or so of the latest arrivals.