Around the World in 80 Trades: Duncan Taylor & Co.

Around the World in 80 Trades: Duncan Taylor & Co.

Duncan Taylor & Co., an independent bottler and whisky merchant, has been flying the flag for Scotland overseas ever since it received its first overseas order back in 2003. BQ found out how it has continued to build on this success to become a real export success story…

Speyside-based Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky has one of the largest privately-held collections of rare Scotch whisky casks.

The company was launched back in 1938 in Glasgow before being acquired by American entrepreneur Abe Rosenberg.

Abe spent years bottling rare whiskys and amassed over 4,000 casks of single malt and single grain Scotch whisky through Duncan Taylor & Co. up until the time of his death in 1994.

Following the death of Abe, entrepreneur Euan Shand acquired the mothballed Duncan Taylor & Co. and its extensive bonded warehouse of casks, and moved the headquarters to Huntly.

The company has since been ‘laying down’ casks from premium Scottish distilleries for decades and has, in recent years, made its branded products available to whisky connoisseurs throughout the world.

Moji Shand, chief executive of Duncan Taylor & Co, told BQ: "Duncan Taylor & Co hit the ground running in 2003, and between the excellent stock and Euan's brilliant management, it was quickly recognised as one of the very best and consistently great independent bottlers of Scotch whisky.

"Given some of its competitors, like Gordon & MacPhail and WM Cadenhead, this is no small accomplishment!"

The business received its first overseas order in 2003 and has since seen business boom with orders for its Single Malt and Single Grain Scotch Whisky, Single Cask Rums, Indian Summer Gin and its lines of blended whisky flow in by the hundreds.

Moji added: "Whiskey worldwide is a growing sector with a worldwide export market. In the 10 years to 2012 trade in Whiskey worldwide grew from US€3.4bn per annum to nearly US€8bn in value.

"Although countries such as Canada and the US have major domestic whiskey production industries, the export sector is dominated by Scotch which exports over US€5bn a year of whisky, a quarter of the UK’s food and drinks exports.

"Although exporting our products began from inception of the business, it was not an easy task and we have faced challenges and have aggressively overcome any and all challenges. 

"The easiest part of exporting is the product itself. Whisky is loved worldwide and because we have such an excellent collection of rare and vintage whiskies, it is not hard to convince buyers to want the product. 

"The most challenging is finding the right buyer in the right country. I would say, doing business in US has been the most rewarding, but yet the most difficult because of the three tier system that has been in existence in the US since the prohibition era. With that said, once you get it, it is the most rewarding of all.

"Exporting is a line of business in which you learn something new every day because we deal with multiple countries, rules and regulations applicable in each region and ever changing rules and regulation for each respectively."

As Moji mentioned, exporting can throw up many challenges and there is no one recipe for success. Luckily for Euan and his team, Scottish Enterprise were there to help whenever they needed support.

"Scottish Enterprise has been a great ally. We have been able to secure grants and seek advise and assistance whenever needed, Moji said.

Moji and the team now have ambitious plans for the business and are looking at breaking into more export markets going forward.

He concluded: "We are hoping to grow in South America next as we believe there is a huge opportunity in Latin America and it is one area we still have allot of room to grow.

"Only in recent years were we finally able to import our products in Mexico, but there is a big world out there and we really want to open the doors into that part of the world."


Are you an exporter? Exporting and international trade remain high on the Scottish Government’s economic growth agenda and the Scottish Export Awards, in association with Scottish Enterprise, are about recognising the excellence in those emerging, wealth creating companies that are selling their products, services and expertise in scores of overseas markets.

To book your ticket for the awards, or nominate a business, click here.