Vat 69

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Vat69.jpg
A bottle of Vat 69 whisky.
Type Scotch blended whisky
Manufacturer William Sanderson & Son Limited
Distributor Diageo
Country of origin Scotland
Introduced 1882

Vat 69 is a Scotch blended whisky manufactured by William Sanderson & Son Limited of South Queensferry, West Lothian, Scotland, now part of Diageo. 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.

History[edit]

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 convinced 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.

Blend[edit]

Vat 69 production in 1972.

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.[citation needed] 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%).

Products[edit]

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%)

Popular culture[edit]

  • 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 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.
  • Vat 69 was frequently shown in Bollywood movies of 70s and 80s as the preferred drink of rich and powerful villains.
  • Vat 69 was Captain Lewis Nixon's favorite liquor in the book and mini-series Band of Brothers. Before D-Day, to avoid having it confiscated he used the footlocker of his tee-totaling 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 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.
  • Nickname of the Royal Malaysian Police 69th Commando Battalion.
  • Parodied in the title of a short story, Vat '96, from short story compilation The Acid House by Scottish author Irvine Welsh.
  • In the first chapter of Thomas Phynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow", Osbie Feel is portrayed drinking Vat 69 and water from a half pint milk bottle.
  • In the fifteenth chapter of Raymond Chandler's "The Lady in the Lake", Philip Marlowe finds a couple of bottles of Vat 69 in Mr. Lavery's house.
  • Penny Priddy's bottle in the night club in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai.
  • In the famous movie "Twelve O'clock High", Gregory Peck as General Savage pours a glass while meeting with his commanding general at Bomber Command.
  • In the Italian movie "Febbre da cavallo" (1976) Vat '69 is the whisky used for a cult sketch played by Gigi Proietti.
  • In the movie "Sergeant Dead Head" Frankie Avalon's character, "Dead Head", is seen pouring his newly aquired wife a drink from a bottle of Vat 69.

References[edit]