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A bottle of Vat 69 whisky.
|Type||Scotch blended whisky|
|Manufacturer||William Sanderson & Son Limited|
|Country of origin||Scotland|
William Sanderson was born in Leith, Scotland, in 1839. He started an apprenticeship with a wine and spirituous liquors producer at the age of 13. In 1863, he already owned his own business and produced liqueurs and whisky blends. In 1880, his son William Mark joined the business. William Mark persuaded his father to bottle various blends of whisky.
The typical Vat 69 bottle was introduced to the market and was not changed for the next hundred years. In 1882, William Sanderson prepared one hundred casks of blended whisky and hired a panel of experts to taste them. The batch from the cask (or “vat”) with number 69 was judged to be the best, and this provided the whisky's brand name. The whisky was at first bottled in Port bottles. In 1884, Sanderson bought the Glengarioch Distillery. It was situated in the middle of a barley field. The distillery was meant to ensure the delivery with grain whisky. Sanderson took care that there were always new products to be blended, because DCL, which was a strong society at that time, controlled such a big amount of the production, that it could influence the supply of the competing company very sensitively. Therefore Sanderson, together with Usher and Bell founded a company to produce grain whisky, which still exists today as the "North British Distillery". Sanderson got a few Malt Whiskys that he needed to blend his VAT 69 from a friend, John Begg, who owned the "Royal Lochnagar Distillery". When Begg died, Sanderson became director of Begg's Distillery. In 1933, Sanderson's company merged with Booth's Distilleries, which merged again with the DCL-Group in 1935. In autumn 1980, "Vat 69 Reserve" from the House of Sanderson had its world première in England. Chosen and optimal stored malt whiskys are used to produce this De-Luxe-Whisky.
Despite the name it is not a vatted malt but a blend of about 40 malt and grain whiskies. The different malts are blended with each other at the optimal ripening stage to ensure the best blend. This means that a light malt of eight years, having reached its ripening summit and coming from the Lowlands adds the same result to the blend as an 18-year-ripened peat malt from Islay. Therefore Vat 69 Reserve carries no standard age statement.
Since autumn 1980, Glenesk, which is a 12 year old Highland Single Malt (40%), is available from Sanderson in Germany. Glenesk is stored for at least 12 years in sherry barrels. Since 1964, William Sanderson & Sons Ltd. has produced "Antiquary", which is a 12 year old De-Luxe-Scotch-Whisky (40%).
Whisky products available from Sanderson in Germany are:
- VAT 69 Finest Scotch Whisky (40%)
- VAT 69 Reserve de Luxe Scotch Whisky (40%)
- Glenesk Single Malt Highland Scotch 12 Years Old (40%)
- The Antiquary de Luxe Old Scotch Whisky 12 Years Old (40%).
Whisky products available from Sanderson in Australia are:
- 700 mL Vat 69 Fine Scotch Whisky (40%)
- In 1914, Sir Ernest Shackleton took supplies of Vat 69 on his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, stating that it would be used for medicinal and celebratory purposes
- "Vat 69" is the nickname of a subdivision of the Royal Malaysian Police 69th Commando Battalion
Film and TV
- In the 1937 Japanese film What Did the Lady Forget?, a bottle of Vat 69 is featured prominently in the opening shot of a visit to a Geisha house
- In the movie Twelve O'Clock High (1949), Gregory Peck as General Savage pours a glass while meeting with his commanding general at Bomber Command.
- In the 1958 film Our Man in Havana, one of James Wormold's friends is found killed with a bottle of Vat 69 in his hand. It was a present for James, who collected miniature whisky bottles.
- In the movie "Sergeant Deadhead" (1965), Frankie Avalon's character, "Dead Head," is seen pouring his newly acquired wife a drink from a bottle of Vat 69
- In the Italian movie Febbre da cavallo (1976) Vat '69 is the whisky used for a cult sketch played by Gigi Proietti
- Vat 69 was frequently shown in Bollywood movies of 70s and 80s as the preferred drink of rich and powerful villains
- In the night club scene in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984), the character Penny Priddy (played by Ellen Barkin) has a bottle of Vat 69
- Vat 69 was Captain Lewis Nixon's favorite liquor in the book and mini-series Band of Brothers (2001). Before D-Day, to avoid having it confiscated he used the footlocker of his teetotaling friend Richard Winters to store his stash. During the course of the war, Nixon became an alcoholic and went to great pains to obtain Vat 69. In Episode 9, "Why We Fight", he is seen taking several drinks from a bottle of Vat 69 and enlisting the company clerk to help him find more.
- In Series 8, Episode 9 of the British television show Doctor Who, a bottle is seen on a table in an apartment.
- Several Pakistani films of the 1960s and 1970s era showed villains drinking VAT 69. It was the whiskey of choice most prominently displayed in club scenes of song and dance routines.
- Vat 69 also appeared in the 1981 Bollywood movie Naseeb. The depressed Vicky is drinking directly from a bottle of Vat 69 in the song "Zindagi Imtihaan Leti Hai", which can be found on a popular video site.
- In the fifteenth chapter of Raymond Chandler's The Lady in the Lake (1943), Philip Marlowe finds a couple of bottles of Vat 69 in Mr. Lavery's house
- In the first chapter of Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow (1973), Osbie Feel is portrayed drinking Vat 69 and water from a half-pint milk bottle
- Vat 69 is parodied in the title of a short story, "Vat '96," from the collection The Acid House (1994) by Scottish author Irvine Welsh
In some versions of "The Hostage" by Brenden Behan "Vat 69 it's the Pope's phone number."