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Tippling Point | Norse invaders, national pride and rich flavours: The delectable history of Teacher's whisky

Teacher's has long been making such gestures to national sentiment and pride. In 1997, as a tribute to mark 50 years of Indian independence the brand launched Teacher's 50

February 27, 2021 / 12:12 PM IST

In the darkness, the Norse invaders were slowly sneaking up on the Scottish army's encampment. The poor Scot soldiers, after a day's long fight, were sleeping dead tired in that long night without even a distant hint of danger. As death approached, taking cover of the darkness, a Norse soldier inadvertently stepped on a thistle, causing him to scream out in pain.

The pandemonium alerted the Scots about the presence of the invaders.

Ever since the incident that saved the pride of the country and the reign of King Alexander III, thistle, that group of flowering plants with sharp prickles on the margin has been considered as an important icon of Scotland. Its fame spread in the following years. Inspired by this national symbol that could be seen everywhere in Scotland the iconic Teacher's whisky decided to bring out an edition—Teacher's Golden Thistle Blended Scotch Whisky—to pay homage to the phenomenal plant.

It was not the first time that Teacher's had been making such gestures to national sentiment and pride (be that to its homeland, Scotland, or to India where the brand has established its own niche. In 1997, as a tribute to mark 50 years of Indian independence the brand launched Teacher's 50).



How it Began

It all began in 1830 when William Teacher, a small-time businessman opened his first grocery shop in Picadilly shop, Glasgow, Scotland. The Excise Act of 1823 had already put an end to illicit distilling throughout the country and paved the way for the licensed brewing and selling of whisky. The golden era began.

William Teacher was one of the first to notice the impact of the new law and cashed on it by obtaining permission to sell whisky from a grocer's shop. In a short period, he opened nearly 20 dram shops in Glasgow alone where customers rolled in on large numbers, to nourish their drams before purchasing bottles for home. He had by then access to a steady supply of single malts and grain whiskies from across the country that Teacher now began to experiment with blending to create his own whisky. The result was the creation of an unusually high peated whisky with a deep and rich flavour - The Teacher's Highland Cream.

manu remakant logo the-tippling-point-logo1-RWhen William Teacher died in 1876, he had a solid company to hand over to the next generation, his sons William Junior and Adam.

By the end of the 19th century, the company began to export its wares to New Zealand, Norway, the West Indies, Italy, Thailand and Australia. The trend of storing whisky in oak barrels was catching on in Europe by then. Adam Teacher began to send transport his barrels in vessels not only to stabilise the boats but also to help the whisky mature in the long voyages across the ocean.

No Looking Back

Teacher's never had to look back in business ever since they successfully purchased land at the highest point of the Northern railway line in Aberdeenshire enabling smooth transportation of whisky to remote parts of the country.

Experiments with ingredient whiskies resulted in the creation of new products like the Teacher's 50 (in commemoration of 50 years of independence in India), Teacher's Origin, Teachers 25YO, and our Teacher's Golden Thistle Blended Whisky.

Presently, the Teacher's brand is owned by Beam Suntory, a world leader in premium spirits.

A word more about Teacher's Golden Thistle 12 Years Old Islay Cask finished.

Talk about whisky craftsmanship, this particular expression from the Teacher's brand is one of the best in the Scotch world. It is double matured in American and European oak casks for 12 years. What comes out after that long sitting inside the dark woody chamber is a phenomenal drink that has an unparalleled finish. The tapered bottle with an embossed thistle, a premium cork closure, and a classy label, would never in the world fail in calling you by name from a bar shelf.

Close your eyes as you take the first sip. The warm and delectable liquid with subtle hints of chestnut and maple with a touch of smoke and wood, a whiff of orange, vanilla, and honey... all would conspire to give you some of the beautiful moments in your life.

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Manu Remakant is a freelance writer who also runs a video blog — A Cup of Kavitha — introducing world poetry to Malayalis. The views expressed here are personal.
first published: Feb 27, 2021 12:08 pm
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