Andrew Usher

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Andrew Usher
Andrew Usher.jpg
Born(1826-01-05)5 January 1826
Died1 November 1898(1898-11-01) (aged 72)

Andrew Usher II (5 January 1826 – 1 November 1898) was a Scottish whisky distiller and blender.[1]


Usher & Co window advertisement, Edinburgh

Usher's father, whose name he shared, Andrew Usher (1782 – 1855), was a prominent Scottish brewer who had experimented with the blending of whisky in the 1840s. He had two sons, Andrew II and John. Andrew Usher II was made a partner of Andrew Usher & Co of Edinburgh in the late 1840s. Andrew Usher II perfected the eventual blending of whisky and as such is sometimes called the 'father of Scottish whisky'.[2] The subsequent blending and mass distillation enabled whisky to grow from a drink rarely consumed outside the United Kingdom, to be one of mass export.

Andrew Usher II was one of the three founders of the North British Distillery; the other two were John Crabbie of Crabbie's Green Ginger and William Sanderson, whisky blender of Vat 69, who both served as directors of the NB distillery.[3] Andrew Usher II was the first Chairman of the NB Distillery, serving from its start in 1885 until shortly before his death on 1 November 1898. Andrew Usher II and his brother John Usher, as partners in Andrew Usher & Co, were also the proprietors of the Edinburgh Distillery.


Among his many bequests to Edinburgh and Scotland was Usher Hall, which became Scotland's premier concert hall.[4] It is recorded that he donated £100,000 to the city specifically to fund the new concert hall on 23 June 1896.[4] A bust of Usher is located in the hall at the entrance to the Grand Circle.[4] He died before the hall was completed and it was later opened by his widow.[4]

Usher also played a major role in improving the fishing village and harbour of St Abbs in Berwickshire.[5] He purchased the Northfield estate on the edge of the village, enlarging and finishing the building of a countryside manor by the coastal shore in 1892.[5] He considered the local public hall inadequate and subsequently funded a new village hall and school, which was constructed in 1887 and is now occupied by the St Abbs visitor centre.[5] Usher also gave funds for the building of the local church in 1892 and the extension of the outer harbour wall in 1890.[5]


The grave of Andrew Usher, Grange Cemetery, Edinburgh

Usher is buried in the Grange Cemetery, Edinburgh with his first wife, Elizabeth Langmuir Miller (1826-1876); his second wife, Marion Blackwood Murray (1847-1925); and several of his children. Usher's city centre family house is now a converted pub (named the Pear Tree and Andrew Usher & Co) located near the University of Edinburgh.[6]


  1. ^ "Whisky Promotion". Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  2. ^ "The Usher Name". Andrew Usher & Company. Archived from the original on 1 November 2016. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  3. ^ "History". North British Distillery. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d "History". Usher Hall. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d "St Abbs". The Visitor Centre. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  6. ^ "Fall and rise of Usher". The Scotsman. Retrieved 31 October 2016.