The firm of William Cadenhead Ltd, Wine and Spirit Merchants, was founded in 1842 and is Scotland’s oldest independent bottler. The company was was in the ownership of the same family until taken over by J & A Mitchell & Co.Ltd in 1972, the proprietors of Springbank distillery.
The firm of William Cadenhead Ltd traded from the same premises in the Netherkirkgate, Aberdeen. It was what subsequently became number 47 that Mr George Duncan established himself as a vintner and distillery agent. The business prospered and in little over 10 years he was joined by his brother-in-law Mr William Cadenhead. In 1858 Mr Duncan died following a short illness. William Cadenhead acquired the business and changed the trading name to that of his own. Whilst not much is known of George Duncan, a great deal is on record about his brother-in-law. It must be said that this is not because of his distinction as a vintner but because he was a local poet of renown throughout the Victorian era. Born in 1819, he began working at an early age in a small thread factory where he gained a great deal of respect from his employer. From there he became an overseer in the yarn sorting department of Maberly & Co at their Broadford works, now Richards PLC. About 1853 he left the company and joined his brother-in-law as traveller for Cadenhead’s until Duncan’s death in 1858 where he acquired the business. Apart from his enviable reputation as a poet, he became a prominent citizen taking part in all aspects of local affairs during his long life.
In 1931 in the depth of the depression, the business of William Cadenhead was not in good shape financially. Mr Duthie was on his way to a meeting with his bank manager when he was unfortunately run over by a tram car whilst crossing the street. Duthie was a batchelor but left two sisters who knew nothing about the Wine and Spirit trade but were determined that the name of William Cadenhead should survive. Responsibility was handed over to a long term employee, Miss Ann Oliver, an eccentric lady who ran the business exactly as she wanted, refusing to move with the times. However, administration was lax and several bad decisions were made during this time forcing Ms Oliver to retire and sell the business.
Thereafter the goodwill, premises etc. of the firm William Cadenhead were sold to J & A Mitchell & Co Ltd., proprietors of Springbank Distillery, one of Scotland’s oldest distilleries still owned by descendants of its founder. The name of Cadenhead is now a household name in the whisky world, and the present owners have expanded the Cadenhead business whilst still keeping the goals.
Scotch Whisky is known the world-over by the Brand names of large blending companies. These blends are the mixture of the products of various distilleries which were originally independent family owned units.
Until the middle of the 20th century there were many small firms that bottled and sold the pure product of the local distilleries. Since Victorian times the firm of William Cadenhead has provided this service.
However a diminution of public interest caused the small bottling companies to close down. Only a small handful of distilleries still remain in the ownership of their founding families and even fewer of the bottling companies remain active, William Cadenhead is one of the notable survivors.
Recent revival of interest in the whisky from different single distilleries has caused a surge of new firms to emerge. Many do not actually control their bottling operations and unfortunately feel it necessary to invent fictitious ancestries. However William Cadenhead has a well established pedigree and the experience of over one and a half centuries ensure that our customers can truly rely on what we put in a bottle. We guarantee that we never chill-filter or chemically alter the products that we bottle nor do we add colouring agents. Each of our bottlings of whisky, and indeed of our rums and cognacs, comes from an individually selected cask.