Dewares Blended Scotch Whisky
John Dewar was born in 1805 his parents being simple crofters (farming for subsistence rather than profit) in the heart of Perthshire. A native Gaelic speaker John Dewar learned English at school and went on to be a Joiner’s apprentice however this doesn’t work out and he goes to be a Cellar man at his Uncles wine business in Perth. So successful at his uncles company is made a partner in 1837 at the age of 32. Nine years later John Dewar decides to go it alone, he leaves his uncles business to start up on his own selling wine and spirits on Perth’s high street. It is here John pioneered blending whisky and bottling it with his name on the bottle.
By the time John is 55 years old he employs a travelling salesman to sell his whisky outside the local area and after expanding the business slowly over the next 10 years before handing the business on. It would be John’s heir John Alexander Dewar who took the business to the next stage
John Dewar dies in 1880 at 74 years old leaving his son a successful if regional business. John Jr is joined in the family business by his brother Tommy. It is Tommy who is sent to London to promote the product and take on the more popular drinks in England capital Brandy and Gin. Tommy was a natural sales person with persuasive skills and enthusiasm to match. He is helped by Dewar’s whisky winning awards north of the border. A year after leaving for London Tommy becomes a partner in the firm.
A further boost was Scottish steel magnate Andrew Carnegie sending a small barrel of Dewar’s to President Harrison for not giving Bourbon whisky unfair tax treatment in the US. The success in England and the new demand in the US emboldened the Dewar boys and Tommy went on a global sales mission to cover 26 countries in 2 years to increase the sales of Dewar’s whiskies. After appointing 32 agents for his whisky Tommy then publishes a travel book based on his experiences, littered with impressions and comedy.
By the end of the 19th century Tommy was becoming a celebrity, commissioning Film adverts for Dewar’s (1st for a whisky), becoming Sheriff of London and buying only the 3rd motor car to enter the UK. On the other hand his brother was taking a more practical approach opening Aberfeldy distillery to guarantee supplies and bringing out new products such as Dewar’s White Label.
Both brothers took an interest in politics and Tommy and John were elected MP’s albeit for different political parties. The whisky sales were going from strength to strength during the early part of the 20th century with the largest mechanical advertisement in Europe placed on the banks of the river Thames in London. Dewar’s merge with Buchanan’s in 1915 after the effects of prohibition in the US are felt Buchanan’s, Dewar’s and Johnnie Walker join forces to create DCL. Both John and Tommy Dewar die in 1929 and 1930 respectively by this time both Lords and leaving considerable estates behind. John Dewar’s son also John was still involved in the family business at DCL which later becomes Diageo.