Skene Dhu Highland Single Malt A Brand Reborn In 2022

| June 8, 2022

Last sold in Victorian times, Skene Scotch Whisky Ltd is back and they’ve recently relaunched “Skene Dhu” Highland whisky.

The brand’s journey goes from a tavern in London to a prominent whisky bottler of its time, and finally to a Linkwood 14 year Old European Oloroso Oak Single Malt Whisky.

The Tavern

London’s Cock Tavern, in Fulham, is a pub with what’s described as a long and proud history. It was first licensed in 1713, rebuilt in 1813, and rebuilt again in 1895. For a large part of the 19th Century, it was run by various members of the Agar family.

Skene Dhu

“Skene Dhu” Linkwood 2008 14 Year Old (image via Skene Scotch Whisky)

And what was on the drinks menu of the Cock Tavern when the Agar family ran it in Victorian times? That’s actually known thanks to an advertisement placed by Proprietor Charles Agar in the 1893 Christmas Supplement to the West London Observer.

Among the drinks offered: Brandy; Champagne Brandy; Brown or Pale Ale; Rum; Gin; Sherry; Port; Claret; Bottled Beers; Stout; Vintage Champagne; Irish Whiskey and Scotch Whisky.

Interestingly, certain whiskies were available by the case for just 42 Shillings (£2.10 in today’s money).  The advertisement showed one of these whiskies to be “Skene Dhu.”

This brand name was a reference to the small twin-edged Scottish dagger historically carried in a Scotsman’s hose or long boot. However, the “Skene Dhu” spelling used is unique, being different from today’s more common “sgian-dubh” or “skean dhu.”

“Skene Dhu” Whisky

In 1905, a decade after Charles Agar’s advertisement, a “Skene Dhu” whisky label was patented by Alexander Ferguson & Co. At that time, it was a large company in the Scotch whisky industry, shipping then famous brands all over the world.

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Flash forward to modern times, and the original “Skene Dhu” label patent was recently re-discovered.

A statement from Skene Whisky explained that Andrew Skene was looking through books of old label designs in the Patent Office and was stunned to find one bearing his surname. And as luck would have it, the original “Skene Dhu” label patent had time-expired. So, Andrew was able to take out a fresh patent in his name and now owns the original design.

Skene Scotch Whisky Ltd 

Today, Andrew Skene owns the independent Skene Scotch Whisky and in recent years, the brand has concentrated on buying and selling casks in bond.

In the fall of 2020, Skene once again started bottling whisky under its own label. The stock is currently either wholesaled to Asian distributors or sold to UK whisky drinkers through Skene Scotch Whisky’s personal website and at a select handful of whisky shops.

“Skene Dhu” Linkwood 14 Year Old now sees a “retro-bottling” bearing a Skene Dhu label based on the original 1905 design. The single malt was matured in European ex-Sherry oak casks and was chosen to bottle based on Andrew Skene’s ancestors that lived in Burnside of Linkwood, where they were coopers.

“Skene Dhu” Linkwood 2008 14 Year Old ex Oloroso European Oak Single Malt Whisky is now available for £65 directly from Skene Scotch Whisky Ltd at www.skenewhisky.com/product/skene-dhu-linkwood-14-year-old-single-malt.

Drinks

Gary Carter

Gary Carter has been at the helm of metro newspapers, magazines, and television news programs as well as a radio host and marketing manager. He is a writer/editor/photographer/designer by trade, with more than 30 years experience in the publishing and marketing field. Gary enjoys working to build something great, whether...