Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Usquaebach (pronounced “oos-ke-bah”), a small, artisanally crafted, rare blended Scotch Whisky is making its resurgence in the US market … yet being owned by a local Jewish family in Englewood is even more rare. The Perry family, also known as Cobalt Brands, purchased Usquaebach in 2005. Thanks to the hard work of its current owners and the reliance on a fiercely dedicated customer base longing for its return, the brand can now be found in over 20 states and in all major US markets.

Usquaebach’s blend dates back to the 1700’s and its name was trademarked in 1877, making it one of the most enduring brands in the Scotch whisky market. One reason for this is the loyal customer base that continues to seek out the whisky due to the quality of the product, a testament to the reputation of the Laing family in Glasgow, Scotland, who has been blending Usquaebach for nearly 100 years.

“Stewart Laing, our long time blender, relies on his close relationships with historic single malt distilleries throughout the Highlands,” says Ryan Judson, Usquaebach’s national brand ambassador. “Laing only selects perfectly aged casks to blend with premium barley grain.”

It is this focus that Laing puts on quality single malt casks for Usquaebach’s blends that has garnered the brand the international respect it continues to receive. Laing describes how the selection of superior single malt casks can determine the greatness of a blend: “In the case of Usquaebach [Old Rare Stone Flagon], we operate on a high malt-to-grain ratio in the blend. Other blended Scotch whisky is a higher grain-to-malt ratio,” says Stewart Laing, the distinguished blender of Usquaebach for over four decades, “There are over 40 different malts mixed together in Usquaebach. Malt is the body. Grain does not have the character, and that is what makes the recipe unique. As a blender I am always looking for balance and taste.”

Oftentimes in the Scotch whisky market, the draw of single malts tends to obscure the craft among blends. Changing this perception has been tantamount to resurrecting Usquaebach’s prominence in the national market.

“Time and time again, single malt drinkers find Usquaebach just as alluring, smoother and more complex,” says Judson. “People try it because the flagon looks amazing, but they always come back because the whisky inside is just that good.”

There was a time in recent history that Usquaebach occupied a very significant place among the elite names in Scotch blends. It was famously poured at the Presidential Inaugural dinners of Richard Nixon and George Bush, Sr.

Today, Usquaebach’s resurgence is a welcome return to a blended Scotch market dominated by large, corporate-owned brands. The iconic packaging of its signature Old Rare Stone Flagon is often a reason for customers to wax nostalgic.

“Our key retailers across the country remain enthusiastic about the brands come back.” explains brand ambassador Judson, “They tell me, thank God, Usquaebach’s back! We missed you.” According to Leo Gross, owner of Filler Up, who carries Usquaebach 15 year and the “Old Rare” Flagon: “I carry this brand because it’s smooth and very unique.”

For more information log onto www.usquaebach.com

Available at Filler Up, 17 West Englewood Ave., Teaneck NJ 07666 201-862-1700

By Jessica Alpert

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