Christmas Day is a wonderful time to begin a story. It was on Christmas Day in 1887 that William Grant’s own distillery produced its first golden drops of spirit
It had taken 20 years for William to acquire both the expertise and the funds to get started as an independent distiller. Fortunately, he was determined in life, astute in business and skilled in the art of whisky making.
William built his first distillery with the help of his seven sons and two daughters. And it was his son-in-law Charles Gordon who became the company’s first salesman. A role that took a great deal of determination.
Sometime after William started in the distillery business as a bookkeeper in 1866 the love affair began with the whisky industry. It took 20 years from that first year as a bookkeeper to the time that William became an independent distiller, but it was time well spent.
To this day William Grant’s business is still “wholly owned by his family five generations later.”
In the early years it was his family who were helping: Seven sons, two daughters and his son-in-law (Charles Gordon).
Charles was the distillery’s first salesman. Charles, like William, was a very determined man. Sales is a numbers game. The more doors you knock on the closer you are to getting your first sale. In Charles’ case it was 181 calls before his first sale came to be and then another 503 when the second sale came around. Now that is what we call stick-to-it-ness.
Canada was the first stepping stone to the now world-wide distribution of William Grant’s whisky.
For it was the Hudson Bay Company of Canada that was the first to import his whisky. And so it goes.
It all began with a few drops in 1887 to today with sales of over 54 million bottles in more than 180 countries.
During those 127 years, of course, there were a lot of changes. World wars, prohibition, minimum maturation changes (to 2 years and today it is 3 years). Sadly many distilleries went by the wayside during these challenging years. William was steadfast in his foresight, determination and planning, which got the distillery through these times.
There is nothing like it in the industry. We are talking about the “iconic” triangular shaped bottle that Grant’s uses for their blended whisky.
It all started in 1957. “The designer was Hans Schleger, one of the most important graphic designers of the 20th Century. His brief: create a distinctive, elegant bottle that would showcase the quality and colour of the whisky. And it must stack and pack efficiently, too.”
“In a stroke of genius, Hans came up with the triangle – a bold, elegant solution. It looked wonderful, was easier to hold and pour than the traditional bottle and it instantly set Grant’s apart from the competition. Today, it still stands out in a round and square world.”
“The three sides of the bottle came to have meaning. For some, they represented the three key ingredients in whisky – cereal, water and fresh Scottish air; for others, the Grant’s cherished ideals – tradition, heritage and quality.
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