Douglas Laing & Co.: A Legacy of Excellence and Innovation

If you’re a whisky aficionado, you probably know the name Douglas Laing. They’ve been a favourite of mine for years, and I’m delighted to count quite a number of their bottles among those in my home collection. Whether it’s for their popular Remarkable Regional Malts – a range of whiskies celebrating the whisky-making regions of Scotland, their Old Particular independent bottlings, or their coveted high-end XOP bottles, the company has really made a name for itself over the past few decades. But as they celebrate their 75th anniversary this year, they have a whole new trick up their sleeve, too. More on that later, though.


Bottles from the ‘Dragon Series’ of Old Particular whiskies from Douglas Laing & Co.


Douglas Laing & Co., a family-owned Scotch whisky business that began in the heady aftermath of World War II, has carved a significant niche in the whisky industry over its 75-year history. Established by Fred Douglas Laing, the company has weathered an at-times challenging industry that has seen plenty of change, transitioning through three generations, each contributing to its rich heritage and esteemed reputation. From the inception of the business to the launch several years ago of their Remarkable Regional Malts series, Douglas Laing & Co. has consistently demonstrated a commitment to quality, innovation, and tradition. It’s not an easy business, and trying to guess market trends and gauge which way the whisky industry will go from decade to decade is as much luck as it is skill. And yet, Douglas Laing & Co. has not only survived, but adapted, grown, and thrived. You’ve heard the phrase ‘going from strength to strength’ – many times it’s said without much meaning behind it; it’s just something that sounds good in the marketing materials. For this company, however, it’s entirely appropriate and accurate.


A small selection of some of the limited and special seasonal editions of various whiskies from Douglas Laing & Co.


A stellar tasting experience



Following the Allied victory that brought an end to the long war, the Scotch whisky industry was trying to find its feet again, to find a new vitality. In that spirit, Fred Douglas Laing founded Douglas Laing & Co. in 1948, driven by his profound love and passion for whisky. In its early years, the company carved a niche in the whisky industry by focusing on blending and bottling, and Laing sought to carve a niche by selecting and bottling the finest whiskies available. His vision emphasized the ‘Provenance’ of each whisky, focusing on its origins and production methods, and he committed to bottling without added colouring or chill-filtration to preserve each whisky’s natural character​.

The company’s reputation grew through meticulous cask selection and innovative blending techniques. By the 1960s and 1970s, Douglas Laing & Co. had established strong relationships with various distilleries, securing access to some of the finest single malts and grains available. These early decades set the foundation for the company’s future success, highlighting Fred’s visionary approach to creating distinct and high-quality Scotch whiskies.


Generations: Fred Laing Jr (left) and his father, founder Fred Douglas Laing | Image Credit:


Fred’s entrepreneurial spirit and dedication laid the groundwork for a legacy that has endured for three generations. His emphasis on maintaining an independent family-owned business allowed Douglas Laing & Co. to stay true to its roots, ensuring that each whisky produced carried the same passion and integrity as the very first bottles released over seven decades ago.

As the company transitioned to the second generation, Fred Laing Jr. took the helm after his father passed away in 1984. Fred Jr.’s stewardship saw the company expand its portfolio, incorporating more single malts and blended malts, and his dedication to preserving the company’s ethos of bottling whiskies at high strength and without chill-filtration ensured that Douglas Laing & Co. maintained its reputation for robust and authentic Scotch whiskies.


Some older independent bottlings from Douglas Laing & Co. | Image Credit: Bonham’s


A contemporary single cask bottling of 35-year-old Tormore Single Malt from the XOP range



The mantle has now been assumed by Cara Laing, the granddaughter of the founder. As the newly appointed Managing Director, Cara brings a wealth of heritage, history, and expertise. Her recent trip to Asia to support the launch of the Strathearn Single Malt Scotch Whisky (the aforementioned new trick up the sleeve) and the Diamond Collection single cask releases, both of which underscore Cara’s commitment to expanding the brand’s global footprint.

The Strathearn Highland Single Malt marks a significant milestone, bringing Douglas Laing & Co. into the realm of distilling. Recently I was delighted to be on hand, along with a handful of other very fortunate whisky lovers, to welcome Cara to Malaysia, and to sample the next chapter in this venerable company’s history – as they move from blender to bottler to distiller, never forsaking one to embrace the other. Being among the very first aficionados in Asia to enjoy this brand-new single malt was certainly memorable! The whisky itself capably communicates its Highlands pedigree, with subtle spicy notes complemented by soft floral notes on the nose. On the palate, I noticed a wonderful mouthfeel thanks to the robust 50% ABV, with a pronounced cereal and shortbread-like backbone accentuated by fruit and butterscotch notes, and a touch of those welcome baking spices. It’s a young whisky, so there’s a characteristically short-to-medium finish, but what a terrific introduction to Strathearn, and I look forward to seeing what this distillery can do in the years to come!


Tasting the new Strathearn Highland Single Malt


Cara leads an informal pre-dinner tasting session, pairing various whiskies with delicious canapés from EQ


Cara’s leadership has been pivotal in celebrating the company’s 75th anniversary. To commemorate this milestone, the company released ‘The Diamond Collection,’ featuring six of its most scarce and precious single casks. This collection is a tribute to the company’s storied legacy and a testament to its future ambitions. Whisky expert Charles MacLean, who profiled the whiskies in the new tasting room, hailed the collection as an exceptional selection of rare old malt and grain Scotch whiskies.


The oldest of the Diamond Collection XOP bottlings, a 55-year-old single malt | Image Credit: WBDS



To commemorate the company’s 75 years, ‘The Diamond Collection’ showcases the best of Douglas Laing & Co.’s family vaults, offering whisky enthusiasts a unique experience. None of these whiskies are cheap, but given their history, provenance, and exceptional character, you wouldn’t expect them to be. Tasting these whiskies – quite literally history in a glass – was indeed a special experience, one shared with fellow whisky enthusiasts over a sterling dinner held at EQ’s Sabayon. The collection includes:

  • Speyside’s Finest 55 Years Old: A bold sherry bomb with rich cocoa, warming cinnamon, and juicy plums. Limited to 310 bottles, it retails at £5,000.
  • Port Dundas 45 Years Old: A sweet, supple edition with notes of candyfloss, sticky date pudding, and custard. Limited to 106 bottles, it retails at £1,800.
  • Macallan 35 Years Old: An iconic bottling with flavors of dried fruit, barley, chocolate, and vanilla. Limited to 334 bottles, it retails at £5,500.
  • Blair Athol 30 Years Old: A Highland whisky with coffee, autumnal fruit, and a sherry heritage. Limited to 399 bottles, it retails at £1,800.
  • Cameronbridge 45 Years Old: The rarest of the collection, with just 98 bottles. It features dark demerara sugar, molasses, and spices. Retails at £1,800.
  • Port Ellen 40 Years Old: A legendary Islay single malt with smoky peat, bonfire ash, and coal dust. Limited to 290 bottles, it retails at £5,500.


The 35-year-old Macallan is among the line-up of impressive single malt and single grain whiskies in the Diamond Collection


Each exclusive Diamond Collection set includes a 70 cl bottle, a mouth-blown and hand-cut diamond crystalware set by Richard Brendon, a metal coaster, and a premium certificate hand-signed by Fred and Cara Laing. Packaged within a bespoke diamond-shaped gift box, these sets epitomize luxury and craftsmanship.


Cara poses with the Diamond Collection set package at EQ’s Sabayon



We also had some great drams from one of the company’s most popular ranges of whiskies. Douglas Laing & Co. has also made significant strides with its Remarkable Regional Malts series. This collection, described as ‘The Ultimate Distillation of Scotland’s Malt Whisky Regions,’ includes:

  • The Epicurean (Lowlands)
  • Timorous Beastie (Highlands)
  • Scallywag (Speyside)
  • The Gauldrons (Campbeltown)
  • Rock Island (Islands)
  • Big Peat (Islay)

These blended malts celebrate the distinct characteristics of Scotland’s whisky regions, offering a diverse range of flavours and styles. The series exemplifies the company’s philosophy of bottling whisky at high strength and without chill-filtration, preserving the whisky’s natural character and integrity.


The Remarkable Regional range of blended malt Scotch whiskies



As Douglas Laing & Co. continues to innovate, it remains deeply rooted in tradition. The company’s commitment to quality and authenticity is evident in every bottle they produce. With Cara Laing at the helm, the future looks bright for this beloved Scotch whisky brand that has taken its love for blending and bottling to the next logical step, and is now a distiller in its own right.

If you’re not familiar with Douglas Laing & Co., and you appreciate good whisky, you owe it to yourself to explore their ranges. The company’s history is a testament to the passion, dedication, and expertise of three generations. As they celebrate their 75th anniversary and look forward to the future, whisky enthusiasts around the world appreciatively raise their glasses to the next chapter in Douglas Laing & Co.’s long and impressive journey.


A wonderful 45-year-old Port Dundas was among the highlights of the evening