Like so many early whisky companies, Matthew Gloag & Son Ltd., has its origins in the early 19th century, when the founder established himself as a grocer and wine merchant in Perth. Matthew Gloag bought malt whiskies from distilleries around Scotland and built up a reputation for his cellars. When Queen Victoria visited the town in 1842, Gloag was invited to supply the wines for the royal banquet.
The Grouse Brand
In 1860 his son William took over the company and began to add blended whiskies to the range of drinks offered by the firm, then in 1896 William's son, another Matthew, who had worked in the wine trade in Bordeaux, took over the running of the business. He created a blend in 1897 which was first called The Grouse Brand. This became so well known around Perth that the name was justifiably changed to the Famous Grouse.
In the 1920s small overseas markets were established, and in 1936 the company built a bottling plant and bonded warehouse in Perth, but the Famous Grouse's following remained mainly local until the 1960s, when it began to win a following in Glasgow and the Central Belt of Scotland.
The company was still entirely owned by the Gloag family, but in 1970 both Matthew Frederick Gloag (the Chairman) and his wife died, and the family was hit by punitive death duties. A friendly buyer was sought to secure the future of the company, and the obvious choice was Highland Distilleries, from whom Gloags bought many of their whiskies.
Highland had the resources to promote The Famous Grouse, and conditions favoured them. Under the able leadership of John Macphail, and aiming for the top end of the market in Scotland, the brand doubled its sales within the home market during the decade (to about one million cases), and achieved the same performance overseas during the I980s. It has been the best-selling blended whisky brand in Scotland since 1980.
The Famous Grouse Website