So Who Is William Cadenhead?

Welcome to Aberdeen, July 1842. The weather is perfect. Sleet, with plenty of rain and a vicious wind tearing in from the north west.  And the dark granite stone used that is Aberdeen, glistens in the grey gloominess.

Perfect, as I said.

At 47 Netherkirkgate, just down the road from the fish shop, a Mr George Duncan, for the first time, has just opened his front door to future customers.   And his trade? Vintner and Spirit Merchant.

But Mr D’s shop, was more than just a regular high street grog shop.  For Mr Duncan was not only in the business of selling direct to his customers, he importantly also bought those wines and spirits he was selling in bulk.  He re-packaged them from large to smaller casks for his clients.

The business boomed over the next ten years, but Mr D was also a clever marketer.  So, what he now desperately need was a celebrity to help him promote and sell his wares.

And that celebrity was none other than the local super-star entertainer, the poet and thread merchant, Mr William Cadenhead.  He also happened to be Mr Duncan’s brother-in-law.

And why wouldn’t you hire a celeb like Mr C, when he can turn out such superb and beautifully poignant verses as the following…

“Her dram was good, but oh! Her ale!
Twas it that did her credit
Aboon a’brewst it bore the bell
And ‘twas herself’ that made it.”

Business continued to boom, but poor Mr D passed away 1859. Mr C, seeing a perfectly good opportunity, bought the company, changed the name to Wm Cadenhead & Sons AND married the widow Duncan!

And the rest they say is history. But more of that in a later blog.

Very briefly, Mr C passed away a happy man in 1904, aged 86 and then company eventually was bought a certain Mr Hedley Wright, owner of J&A Mitchell, distillers of Springbank whisky.

In 2021, Wm Cadenhead & Son, is now located at 9 Bolgam Street, Campbeltown and is Scotland’s oldest independent bottler of wide range fine and highly tasty spirits.

Independently Bottled Whisky?

There is a quirk in the history and regulations governing the sale of whiskies in Scotland. You or me can go buy a cask of say, the famous Glen-Nothing.

We can bottle it, put the distilleries name on it, add our own name to it as well and sell it. And get this, you won’t get sued for copyright infringement.


And this is exactly what independent bottlers, like Wm Cadenhead, do. Generally, single cask bottlings of extraordinary water of life.

I’ve always been a strong supporter of “indie Bottlings” as they represent the heart and soul of a distillery. No massive vatting to get a particular style, no added colouring or chill filtering. And with many bottled at natural cask strength.

The pure essence of a distillery’s spirit.

And Wm Cadenhead & Sons are the experts at it.

Big G’s Ultimate Guide: Wm Cadenhead Top 10 Spirits

So here are my top ten picks, and in no particular order…

Scottish Highland Malts

1. Cadenhead

Original Collection Tullibardine 13yo


Hidden distillery, but amazingly rich spirit. Mouthfilling

2. Cadenhead

Small Batch 175th Fettercairn 28yo


Bang for your aged buck.

Scottish Speyside Malts

3. Cadenhead

Small Batch Dailuaine 10yo


How do they do it? Famed distillery, cask strength and look at the price!

4. Cadenhead

Small Batch Tormore 30yo


Go buy a big named 30yo and see what you have to pay!

Scottish Island Malt

5. Cadenhead

Single Cask Highland Park 29yo


Exotic, alluring, tropical fruits with a waft of salty smoke. Classic HP.

Scottish Grain Spirits

6. Cadenhead

Single Cask Cambus 29yo Grain


Closed distillery. Perfumed, ethereal, complex and highly intriguing.

7. Cadenhead

Old Raj Caol Ila Whisky Cask Matured Gin


Only from Wm C: A smoky, Islay infused gin.

International Spirits

8. Cadenhead

Grossperrin 32yo Grande Champagne Cognac


In a word extraordinary. Breaks all the rules. Highly complex and still lively

9. Cadenhead

Irish 13yo Single Malt


Soft, creamy, and malty. Robust and too easy to sip.

10. Cadenhead

Uitvlugt Distillery 25yo MPM Guyana Rum


Matured in Scotland. Hence the extreme age. Oily, tropical.