Top 5: Whisky of the Clans

Intrinsically linked like bread and butter, whisky and the Clans are about as all things Scot as you’re going to get. Here are our top five links between the water of life and Scotland’s oldest families.

1. Dalmore

Dalmore 12 Year Old Whisky

Dalmore 12 Year Old Whisky

In 1263, an ancestor of Clan Mackenzie saved King Alexander III of Scotland from being gored by a stag whilst out hunting. The grateful King granted the Mackenzies the right to bear a stag’s head, with twelve points to its antlers, signifying a ‘Royal’ in their coat of arms. Today every bottle of the Dalmore single malt is adorned with the clan’s proud emblem. The distillery is located on the northern shores of the Firth of Cromarty overlooking the Black Isle, and was originally established in 1839 by Alexander Matheson, a trader who made his fortune in opium imports. The Mackenzie family bought the distillery in 1866 and have recently begun to use the Mackenzie motto of Luceo Non Uro (I shine, not burn) as the company’s philosophy. The Dalmore Single Highland Malt Collection is matured in a wooden casks (both sherry wood and American white oak) which, along with the years and the climate, contributes to the flavour of each malt.



2. Clan MacGregor


Clan MacGregor Blended Whisky

Clan MacGregor Blended Whisky

Clan MacGregor blended whisky takes its name from the highland clan, honouring one the descendents of ancient Celtic royalty as proclaimed in the motto ‘Royal is my Race’. The blend is made from 15 malt and grain whiskies from the heart of Scotland, blended to create a delicate, sweet aroma and smooth, mellow taste. The bottles proudly carry the Clan MacGregor badge and motto, and with his kind permission, the personal crest of the 24th Clan Chief, Sir Malcolm MacGregor of MacGregor. The Clan badge, a crowned lion’s head on a wreath encircled with a belt and buckle, signifies the unity and loyalty of the clan who suffered two centuries worth of oppression. It is enjoyed in over 60 countries around the world, from the USA to Venezuela and the Middle East to Thailand.







3. Talisker

Talisker 10 Year Old

Talisker 10 Year Old

My personal favourite, this wee gem of single malt is produced at the Talisker distillery on the shores of Loch Harport on the Isle of Skye. It’s the only distillery on the isle, with the distillery’s seaside home giving it a deep peaty character followed by a hint of sweet. The distillery was built in 1831 by brothers Hugh and Kenneth MacAskil after they acquired the lease of Talisker House from the chief of Clan MacLeod. When a new lease for the distillery was negotiated with the chief in 1892 the annual payment was to be £23.12s and a ten-gallon cask of best-quality Talisker. Today the single malt continues to be the preferred dram of clan chiefs – the MacNeil of Barra leases their seat of Kisimul Castle to Historic Scotland at a cost of £1 per annum and a bottle of Talisker. In 2007 Talisker 18 year old won ‘Best Single Malt in the World’ at the World Whiskies Awards and was one of three whiskies described by poet Robert Louis Stevenson as “The king o’ drinks, as I conceive it” in his poem The Scotsman’s Return From Abroad.



4. Clan Campbell

Clan Campbell Blended Whisky

Clan Campbell Blended Whisky

While the link between this blended whisky and the actual clan is unclear, the whisky takes it names from the clan who have 14 million descendents around the globe. Clan Campbell is one of the largest clans in Scotland and renowned for its bravery and influence over the country’s history since the 13th century. The whisky is distilled, blended and aged in the Highlands, combining Scotch grain and malt whiskies that have aged in oak casks for at least three years. The present clan chief, Torquhil Ian, combines his duties as Duke or Argyll, chief and landowner with a consultant role with Pernod Ricard, promoting Scotch Whiskies including Chivas Regal and Glenlivet.




5. Drambuie and Glayva

Drambuie Liqueur

Drambuie Liqueur

Glayva Liqueur

Glayva Liqueur









Technically not a Whisky, Drambuie is a sweet golden coloured liqueur made from malt whisky, honey, herbs and spices. Produced in Broxburn, West Lothian, Drambuie derives its name from the Gaelic phrase an dram buidheach, (the drink that satisfies). After the Battle of Culloden in 1746, Prince Charles Edward Stuart fled to the isle of Skye. There, he was given sanctuary by Captain John MacKinnon of Clan MacKinnon. According to family legend, after staying with the captain, the prince rewarded him with this prized drink recipe. This version of events is disputed by historians who believe it to be a story concocted to boost sales of the drink. The MacKinnon family produce the liqueur to this day. A similar liqueur is Glayva, produced in Leith since 1947. It made from a blend of aged Scotch whiskies, herbs, anise, cloves, almonds, heather honey, and citrus fruits. Legend has it that when Bonnie Prince Charlie was served a whisky based liqueur, he looked at his host, held up the glass and spoke the Gaelic “Gle mhath!”(very good) thus giving the drink the name it carries to this day.


Related Posts

10 thoughts on “Top 5: Whisky of the Clans

  1. Shirley Linder

    Lovely report – but what on earth happened to THE THREE single malts I was taught to revere while in Scotland on several occasions:


    Or are they just KNOWN? I will try to find the MacGregor as my lineage is direct to their earliest known history. James I (or England/VI of Scotland) sent my good MacGregor’s to the Colonies in 1603. Had he not, I would have been BORN in Scotland, where I belong!

  2. Magriet Nieman

    Can you help me, I short the Glenfiddich St Clair Whisky in a tin, where in South Africa can I buy it.

  3. Judy Gibson

    A friend of mine has a bottle (still in original carton) of:-
    The House of Campbell,
    100% Scotch Whiskies,
    net 26 2/3 fl ozs
    Product of Scotland
    24 – 0 U.P (Aust)
    White Heather
    BlendednScotch Whisky De Luxe
    Carton made in Scotland G/E
    Bottled in Scotland
    Any idea how old it is and value please?

  4. noel cathey

    report on best 5 scotch whiskys– being only distilllery on skye– with talisker — i have a macleod mag issued by macleod of usa showing a bottle of macleod whisky– is this a special clan chief label or has talisker taken over the brand????

  5. Sherrie B. Ware-Lopez

    How and where might I purchse MacGregor whiskey? In tracing my mother’s family, we found our McGehee ancestors were actually McGregors. No wonder it was known far and wide, in areas they lived in Alabama and Tennessee, of the fine whiskey made by family patriarch, Samuel McGehee. We have a copy of a newspaper article written about our particular McGehee family and that is where we gleaned the information about the McGehee whiskey.

  6. Arthur B Robertson III

    I have a question concerning this topic. When did distilling of a grain mash start in Scotland? I assume the grain was barley.


Leave a Reply to noel cathey Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *