Get to know James Eadie
James Eadie Scotch whisky - A story from Rupert Patrick, CEO of James Eadie.
How many times have you kicked yourself for not getting on and doing something when your gut feel said ‘just do it’? If you are like me, there have been many. But five years ago, luckily, I persuaded myself to follow my instinct and have a go.
I’d worked in the Scotch whisky industry for twenty-five years, for Macleod’s, Beam and Diageo, and had never planned to throw away the safety net of corporate life. But that changed, almost in an instant, when I discovered thirty years’ worth of James Eadie’s whisky ledgers hidden away in the National Brewery Archive in Burton on Trent.
I had grown up knowing that my mother came from a Scottish brewing family, one that had sold out, in 1933, to Bass. What I hadn’t realised was that James Eadie was not only a very young entrepreneur (he set up his own brewery aged 25) but he was also an extremely good blender with an excellent nose for Scotch. He bought whiskies from the best distillers and blended his Trade Mark ‘X’ using the most notorious malts and grains.
How do I know this? Well, the whisky ledgers have it in black and white – Talisker, Benrinnes, Aberlour, Littlemill, Caol Ila, Lagavulin, to name a few. And I’ve also tasted a bottle of Eadie’s Trade Mark ‘X’ from the late 1940’s. It was, without doubt, the most memorable Scotch whisky moment of my life. I will always be grateful to my uncle, Alastair Eadie, for giving me that chance.
Turning the dusty pages of the ledgers, white gloves and all, was enough to fuel my ambition to revive the James Eadie whisky brand. Sure, there were moments over the following months when the voice in my head said ‘don’t do it, too risky’, but luckily I kept moving forward, with momentum provided by my colleague Leon, whose passion for history and Scotch whisky had also found the perfect vehicle.
Another boost to the revival of Trade Mark ‘X’ came from Norman Mathison, a Master Blender with over fifty years’ experience. Very gingerly, I had asked him if he’d cast his eye over the twelve malts and two grains that I’d have to use if I wanted to stick to the original recipe. Norman’s smile, when he looked at the list, said it all. He knew each component whisky like the back of his hand and immediately saw an opportunity to recreate the style, character and flavour of a highly praised late 19th Century blended Scotch.
Trade Mark ‘X’ was revived in 2017, nearly seventy years since it had last been bottled. It won a gold medal in the World Whisky Awards in 2018 and was rated 90/100 by Scotchwhisky.com – the highest mark ever given to a blended whisky under £60.00
I’m very glad that for once in my life I threw caution to the wind and just ‘did it’.
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