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Whisky Rebranding And Brand Evolution Part 3

Updated: Mar 6

As a consumer, it can be difficult to locate your preferred bottle of whisky on a store's shelves, particularly when whisky distilleries and brands cannot seem to agree on their product's image. All distilleries undergo natural brand growth over the years with changing times and demand, particularly with single malts which were not popular 40 years ago. Today, many of them are running low on stock to make their age statement releases, leading to the creation of interesting names to fulfil the increasing demand for single malt whiskies over the past two decades. Every year, hundreds of new types of releases seem to emerge.

In this third instalment, we'll explore how whisky brands have changed over the decades, including both well-known single malts and lesser-known distilleries.

change in whisky presentations 2015 compared to 2021


1. Glenfiddich

Glenfiddich is a well-known whiskey distillery located in Speyside, established in 1886 and still owned by the Grant family under William Grant & Sons. Sandy Grant Gordon, the great-grandson of William Grant, introduced the famous three-corner green bottle design in 1957. Gordon was a marketing genius and launched global campaigns through TV that made the brand popular worldwide. Glenfiddich has been consistent with its branding throughout the years. It made only minor adjustments to stay relevant instead of rebranding. The brand's longevity and ability to stay ahead of the competition may have contributed to its success without needing to make significant changes to its branding. In 2019, Glenfiddich announced its 'bold' repackaging to be released in 2020. The change is significant compared to the brand's previous changes, but the new white label seems to blend in with other similar designs. However, the redesigned bottle is intriguing

Whisky Rebranding And Brand Evolution Glenfiddich single malt whisky

Image by The Whisky Ardvark


2. Glenlivet

Glenlivet is known as the first distillery to be granted an official license to distil whisky in Scotland in 1824, setting the standards for what single malt whisky would eventually become. Due to its immense popularity and recognition, many distilleries in the area started using the suffix "Glenlivet" in their branding, which brought them great success. However, the use of the suffix began to fade away in the mid and late 1900s. To distinguish themselves as the original, Glenlivet took action by renaming their distillery THE Glenlivet in 1859. In 1880, Glenlivet won the sole rights to The Glenlivet and later challenged the illegal use of the trademark. It should be noted that the suffix was also used to describe the region itself instead of using the name Speyside. In 2001, Pernod Ricard became the owner of the Glenlivet distillery and, in 2004, implemented a relaunch of the range with 15-year-old French Oak replacing the previous 12-year-old. However, the 12-year-old did not stay away for long, making a comeback soon after. In 2006, Glenlivet launched the first batch of the Nadurra range with a 16-year-old whisky. The last major rebranding of The Glenlivet happened in 2019 when the distillery rolled out a tweaked design

Whisky Rebranding And Brand Evolution Glenlivet single malt whisky

Image by The Whisky Ardvark


3. Glenfarclas

The history of Glenfarclas distillery dates back to 1836 and it is currently owned by J. & G. Grant (not to be confused with William Grant). The premises were first enquired about in 1865 by the current owners. The distillery has remained family-owned for six generations and is renowned for its use of ex-sherry casks in the maturation process of its whiskies. The distillery's consistent growth is attributed to its long-standing ownership. Additionally, its iconic bottle design has become a symbol of quality Scotch whisky for many. Although the packaging has been updated a few times in the past, the last revamp took place in the late 2000s.

Whisky Rebranding And Brand Evolution Glenfarclas single malt whisky

Image by The Whisky Ardvark


4. The Deveron

Finding the distillery that produces Deveron whisky can be a bit tricky since it is a brand of single malt whisky made at Macduff distillery. Adding to the confusion, whisky from this distillery can also be found under the name Glen Deveron. However, since 2015, the prefix has been mainly used for the travel retail range. Bacardi acquired the Macduff distillery in 1993 and has since made several attempts to establish the brand. Previously, it was mainly used as part of Dewar's Lawson's blend, and the reviews of The Deveron have not been very positive in recent years. In 2021, Bacardi launched its latest design adventure to lift the brand's image.

Whisky Rebranding And Brand Evolution Glen Deveron single malt whisky

Image by The Whisky Ardvark


5. Glen Ord

Glen Ord, a distillery owned by Diageo, is one of the largest producers of single malt whisky in Scotland. The distillery was established in 1838 under the name of Glen Oran, but it was later changed to Glen Ord in 1923. Since 2006, it has been part of Diageo's Singleton range. Back in 2002, they launched a square bottle that was only available for four years. Despite its short run, it has since been regarded as one of the best Glen Ord releases. However, Glen Ord has never been a single malt that stands out with its character from the rest. Perhaps it's one reason why it's part of a bigger range. The Singleton range comprises other whiskies such as Dufftown and Glendullan, but we believe that Glen Ord is the only one that deserves a closer look.

Whisky Rebranding And Brand Evolution Glen Ord single malt whisky

Image by The Whisky Ardvark


6. Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond Group owns this distillery which has been in operation since 1965. Unlike most distilleries, it is capable of producing both single malts and grain whisky on-site and has released whisky under several names including Inchmurrin, Inchmoan, Old Rhosdhu, Croftengea, Craiglodge, Glen Douglas, and Inchfad. However, for this article, we will focus on the releases under the name Loch Lomond. The distillery began producing grain whisky in 1993 and was the first Scottish distillery to make a single blend. Due to the various types of whiskies produced on-site, it has been able to release pure malts as well. This makes Loch Lomond an interesting choice if you're keen on exploring complex distilling methods. Over the last 10 years, Loch Lomond has reportedly witnessed a 200% increase in sales, largely due to rebranding efforts. By streamlining its range to mainly Loch Lomond, Inchmurrin, and Inchmoan, the distillery has become more consumer-friendly. This is a great example of a brand that successfully revamped its image to achieve greater success.

Whisky Rebranding And Brand Evolution Loch Lomond single malt whisky

Image by The Whisky Ardvark


7. Longmorn

Chivas Brothers purchased the distillery under Pernod Ricard in 2001, but the history of this hidden gem in Speyside dates back to 1894. Longmorn single malt is mainly used in Chivas Regal 18yo and 21yo Royal Salute, and it is still relatively hard to come by. In 2007, the old 15yo was replaced by a completely rebranded 16yo. Then in 2015, Longmorn released its non-age statement Distiller's Choice, discontinuing the 16yo. However, a year later, a new version of the 16yo was introduced. Click here to see the brands recent 2024 rebranding. For whisky lovers who appreciate complexity and character, this single malt is an excellent choice.

Whisky Rebranding And Brand Evolution Longmorn single malt whisky

Image by The Whisky Ardvark


8. Tamnavulin

Tamnavulin-Glenlivet, now formally known as Tamnavulin distillery, was established in 1966 and is currently operated by Whyte & Mackay. Although it has been around for over 50 years, the distillery is not as well-known as others in the industry. Tamnavulin became more recognised as a single malt in 2016 with the launch of the new non-age statement core range, which was long overdue. The distillery was closed between 1995 and 2007, which explains the lack of whisky releases with age statements. Currently, they are still in the process of building up their stock.

Whisky Rebranding And Brand Evolution Tamnavulin single malt whisky

Image by The Whisky Ardvark


9. Clynelish

Clynelish distillery has a rich history that is closely linked to the lost Brora distillery, which resumed production in 2021 after being closed for 38 years. Clynelish, which is currently run by Diageo, was built in 1967, although the original distillery on the site dates back to 1819. The distillery is highly regarded by whisky enthusiasts and is closely guarded. In 1991, Diageo included the 14-year-old Clynelish in their Flora and Fauna range. In 2002, the distillery became a standalone brand, and it has been successful without having to change its branding significantly. However, Diageo has also included Clynelish in its special editions, such as The Game of Thrones, Prima and Ultima, and Four Corners of Scotland.

Whisky Rebranding And Brand Evolution Clynelish single malt whisky

Image by The Whisky Ardvark


10. Old Pulteney

Old Pulteney is a single malt whisky produced by Inver House Distillers. It is known as "The Maritime Malt" and is made in the Northern Highlands. The distillery was founded in 1826 and named after Sir William Pulteney, who built a fishing town that became a popular harbour serving 800 ships per day. Although the town serves fewer ships today, it still produces a sea-influenced malt whisky. In 1995, Inver House Distillers acquired Old Pulteney, which had previously been bottled mainly by independent bottlers such as Gordon & McPhail. In 1997, they released their first version of the 12-year-old whisky, giving it a new character. In 2018, Old Pulteney underwent a major rebranding, during which the much-loved 17-year-old expression was discontinued.

Whisky Rebranding And Brand Evolution Old Pulteney single malt whisky

Image by The Whisky Ardvark


The journey continues in Part 4 - Islay Edition

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