History

History 

The story so far

Established in 1948 by Fred Douglas Laing – or FDL as he was affectionately known in the industry – Douglas Laing & Co. is one of just a handful of Whisky companies in Scotland that are still family owned. Now in its third generation, at the helm of Douglas Laing are Fred Hamilton Laing (Fred Jr.) and his daughter, Cara Laing.

Almost 70 years on from its humble beginnings, the single goal of Douglas Laing & Co remains unchanged: To exceed the expectations of our customers and consumers around the world by offering the most special, quality-driven and unique Scotch Whisky experience. And so, we continue to do what we do best, firstly by creating the finest Blended Scotches in their traditional sense, and more recently by using those same skills to offer the best "Vatted" Malts, demonstrated by our Remarkable Regional Malts collection. Secondly, our stock holding allows us to offer wonderful Single Casks of aged Single Malt and Single Grain Scotch Whiskies, as natural as they get: Proudly without chill-filtration or colouring and at a high alcohol strength to preserve maximum spirit flavour and character.

Fred Snr and Fred JnrOld Particular and Big Peat

 

The Douglas Laing journey

Take a walk through some of the major milestones in the history of Douglas Laing and discover what has brought us to become one of the leading independent Scotch Whisky specialists.

1948

Post his RAF days through World War II, Fred Douglas Laing worked with an American friend, developing two different Blended Scotch Whiskies and selling throughout the USA and Europe. He successfully took sole ownership of the business shortly after, further promoting The King of Scots and McGibbon's Special Reserve blends, both of which remain important to Douglas Laing & Co. today. 

Douglas Laing 1949

From 1949 onwards, Fred Douglas Laing set up his preferred filling programmes with as many Distilleries as he could. Some of these are still in place today, based on a handshake back then. These fillings would go on to protect brands such as The King of Scots, and would prove invaluable for the company some 45-50 years later, when overly-optimistically filled stocks allowed the company to release the spirit from these filling programmes into our first Single Cask brands. 

Douglas Laing 1950 Fred Hamilton Laing (FHL) was born in September of that year. By December 1950, "Uncle" Sandy Grant, owner of Bruichladdich Distillery at the time (and co-owner of a number of racehorses with Fred Douglas Laing), had offered to exchange "Wee Freddy" for the Bruichladdich Distillery!
Douglas Laing 1967 FHL was taken out of school to accompany his father on two business trips, around Central America and South America, as part of his "University of Life". Read all about his trip here.
Douglas Laing 1968 FHL joined Whyte & Mackay Distillers on a classic, rather quaintly old-fashioned, apprenticeship. He worked in all departments and was overseen by the company owner at the time, Major Hartley Whyte. 
Douglas Laing 1969 White Horse Distillers beckoned Fred where, inter alia, his time with Gardiner Ferrier (the company blender) was massively appreciated and hugely beneficial in terms of deepening his own blending skills.
1972

Douglas Laing & Co prove the value of nepotism when Fred Hamilton Laing joined his father, Fred Douglas Laing, to eventually spearhead the family business.

Douglas Laing 1975  The company bottles the first of Billy Connolly's Nippy Sweeties
Douglas Laing 1976  The Rolling Stones are introduced to Fred backstage at The Apollo, Glasgow, on their Black & Blue Tour. The King of Scots bottles left with the band seemed to be well received, leading to great satisfaction all round. 
Douglas Laing 1977  The King of Scots becomes the house blend of choice for the duty free shopper, with retail outlets around the Pacific Basin and sales increasing exponentially in 1977 and the ten years thereafter.
1990

Fred Laing meets Her Majesty to accept The Queen’s Award for Export, a particular honour the year the Award celebrated its 25th Anniversary.

Douglas Laing 1999

Douglas Laing introduces its first ever Single Cask Single Malt bottlings under the Old Malt Cask brand. 

2002

Douglas Laing & Co launch the Old & Rare brand of Single Cask Single Malt Scotch Whiskies, and was later joined by sister brand, Directors' Cut. Most recently, our current and most prestigious Single Cask brand: Xtra Old Particular, which is home to the Douglas Laing "family jewels" - our very oldest, rarest and finest Single Cask Scotch Whiskies. 

Douglas Laing 2008 Celebrating its 60th Anniversary, the company releases special casks of selected Single Malts, representing each decade since the firm's inception. Arguably the most special release that year was a 30 Years Old bottling from FDL's favourite Distillery, the now closed Port Ellen Distillery on Islay. 
2009

In describing Port Ellen Whisky, with its "smack of chewed leather and a surprising big peat hit" to our friends at Pocket Rocket, Fred asks Del to draw a big, bearded fisherman named Pete, just off his boat and bracing the harsh, Islay climate. And so, Big Peat was born and is still going strong today. 

2013

A huge year for Douglas Laing & Co, in which the company welcomes its third generation. Cara Laing, Fred’s daughter, and her husband Chris Leggat join the business and soon become Director of Whisky and Commercial Director respectively.

2013

Following a “particularly” busy period sampling some of our finest stocks, writing tasting notes and determining the optimum alcohol strength at which to release our hand-selected Single Cask series, Old Particular launches globally with resounding success.
The Laing family Fox Terrier is commemorated in Scallywag, our spicily-sherried Malt that represents the best of Speyside Whisky.

2014

Joining our ultimate distillations of the Speyside and Islay Whisky regions, Timorous Beastie launches, offering a true taste of the Highlands.

Douglas Laing 2014

XOP launches, our luxury brand of Single Cask Single Malt and Single Cask Single Grain Whiskies, and an "older brother" to the Old Particular brand. 

2015

A remarkable blend of Malt Whiskies from Scotland’s islands is created, and Rock Oyster is born.
Big Peat, Scallywag, Timorous Beastie and Rock Oyster unite to form Douglas Laing’s Remarkable Regional Malts .