Tell us about the history of Cadenhead’s
Cadenhead’s started as a bottler of Single Malts and Rums in 1842. The first shop opened in Aberdeen on Netherkirk Gate Putachieside. The founder, William Cadenhead, wanted to offer the public whiskies that had been matured in the cask and then bottled at full cask strength. Cadenhead’s was pioneering in offering bottled stock, prior to this you would need to buy the cask and store it at home or have commissioned bottling, which could be rather expensive.
Shortly after the company was founded as a bottler of single malts, stories already began to appear about the demise of the company. People felt “It’s not commercially viable” and questioned “Who would want a whisky from a single distillery?”
We proved them wrong – for decades Cadenhead’s was the only bottler of single malts, and then in the late 1800’s a few more companies began to be established.
Springbank Distillers (J&A Mitchell) is the parent company of WM Cadenhead. Established in 1828, it’s Scotland’s oldest independent family owned and run distillery.
What’s it like to work for such an established whisky shop?
When you work with a family business as old as ours, you think about the history behind every aspect of the business, from how we select the barley for distilling and the process involved in turning barley into malt whisky, through to the ageing and finally the bottling. We still do 100% of production on-site, and we’re the only distillery to do so.
Tell us about your tasting events
Our tasting events are informative sessions that take people on a journey through the world of single malts. Evening tasting sessions help people discover the effect of microclimate, wood, water and geology, nature is the main influence on single malts.
Each single malt is unique, even from the same distillery; malts made on the same day and matured in identical looking casks can be as far apart in taste as sugar and salt. This is all down to the cask and how many times it has been used.
We never do hard selling during or after the tasting events. The events are not about making people part with money, it’s about them getting the best possible product available based on their taste and preferences.
You’ve been here for 8 years now. What changes have you seen in Marylebone?
Since we moved from the original site in Covent Garden to Chiltern Street so much has changed. The street looks amazing with its unique mix of retailers, all offering the best service possible in London. It’s hard to believe, but when we first opened the street looked a little tired with empty shops, similarly to how Covent Garden looked when we opened there over 21 years ago.
What is it like working on Chiltern Street?
When we first moved to Chiltern Street we did contemplate whether it was the right decision, given how well known we were. Moving shops felt like starting over again, but we feel this is the best move we could have hoped for. Not because we get as many people through the doors as we did in Covent Garden, but because we have been able to offer a better customer service – for us it’s about getting the right product to the customer based on taste rather than budget.