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Whiskymag 137 July _Aug 2016

Grand MacNish Scotch Whisky

Why is the brand known as Grand MacNish?


The choice of the name Grand Macnish came about quite simply.  Many of Colonel George McNish’s friends, when commenting on the distinctive quality of MacNish would, in the Scots tongue, say it was a “Grand” whisky.  Thus the term was adopted and used as part of the brand name, which is today to many thousands, a guarantee of quality.


The name “McNish” was the correct spelling of the family name and was only altered to MacNish for ease of pronunciation in all corners of the world.


The McNish clan is a sept of the Clan MacGregor.  A sept means a clan in the sense that the members of it belong to a branch of a race or family and as such have the right to wear the tartan, etc, of this clan.


The clan motto “Forti Nihil Dificile” which means “To the strong nothing is difficult” encapsulates the spirit of the McNish family.  In old Grand Macnish advertisements this spirit and dedication to quality was represented by a leaping salmon, a Scottish symbol of both quality and a desire to achieve one’s goal against the odds.




“Grand MacNish (89)


Nose:22.  Young, feral and lively.  Wild grain but shackled well by some raw malt which combines lavender and gorse for a wonderfully floral blend

Taste: 23.  I adore the way the grain and malt spark off each other.  This is classic stuff

Finish: 22.  A rare display of Speyside grassiness late on in a blend: remains sweet and clean save for some late toffee

Balance: 22.  For those who prefer their whisky with character, eccentricity and attitude rather than water. “


Grand Macnish Original Tasting Notes

    Nose: Lavendar, heather floral

    Palate: Honey, sweet, full bodied

    Finish: Grassy, sweet toffee


Grand Macnish 12 Year Old Tasting Notes

        Nose: Sherry notes and light smokiness

        Palate: Spices, roast nuts

        Finish: Oak and cocoa


Other Macnish Scotch Whisky Bottlings

Grand Macnish Blended Malt

Grand Macnish 12 Year Old Blended Malt.

The history of Grand MacNish Scotch Whisky


"Secondly, to conserve our water supplies, thus rationing the one bottle of water, the four bottles of Carlsberg beer and the bottle of the Grand MacNish Scotch whisky which I will recommend without any hope of recompense" – Ernest Hemmingway, Look Magazine, 1954.


Ernest Hemmingway may have had more reason than most to be grateful for his bottle of Grand MacNish (his plane had just crashed in Africa) but he was certainly not the first to give thanks for Grand MacNish.

The Grand Macnish became the fine Scotch Whisky that it is today because of a belief held by Robert McNish back in 1863.  Being a hard-headed Scot, he set about concocting a lighter whisky which would have a distinctive appearance.  After much sampling, a recipe was found using over 40 single whiskies.  The percentage of each used varied according to weight, flavour and aroma, the resultant whisky being much lighter than straight malt, although retaining the exquisite flavour of the finest Highland Whiskies.

Macduff International Trademark

Brand Owners

MacDuff International Limited

35 Earl Haig Road


Glasgow  G52 4JU

Tel: +44 (0)141 883 8844  

In 1887 he was joined in the firm by his two sons, John and George.  Trade was expanding and the original store in York Street, Glasgow, where Robert had sold China and Indian Tea, Virginia Tobacco and Scotch Whisky, was found too small hence new premises were opened at 92 Dunlop Street.  The laying down of large stocks of maturing whisky was a costly affair and to finance this operation the McNish family decided in 1908 to form their activities into a limited company.


In 1904 Robert McNish died and John, who had a flair for salesmanship and entertaining, made his headquarters in London where he was in constant touch with overseas as well as domestic buyers.  George, a shrewd canny Scot, stayed in Glasgow and acted as an excellent foil for John.  Between 1900 and 1914, sales of Scotch throughout the world increased enormously and the McNish Company, together with many other Scotch Whisky merchants, shared in this prosperity.


When World War I broke out, George, always a military man and holding a commission in Glasgow’s own regiment, the Highland Light Infantry, immediately reported for service in France.  He served throughout the War from 1914 to 1918 and, as Colonel George McNish, his meritorious services were tangibly recognised in 1919 when he was awarded the C.B.E. by H.M. King George V.


On his return to civilian life he resumed his activities in the sale of Macnish Scotch, but since he was a man of boundless energy he also interested himself in numerous charities and local government, and became a Deputy Lieutenant of the City of Glasgow as well as a Justice of the Peace.  He died in September 1943 at the ripe old age of 77 after 50 years with the company.  His brother John died two years later.


1927, after lengthy negotiations, the old McNish Company was purchased by Corby Distilleries but continued to operate independently from Glasgow.  In later years Hiram-Walker Group acquired a majority interest in Corby Distilleries and finally in 1991 Grand MacNish was acquired by MacDuff International and since then has gone from strength to strength.

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