Anderson & Shaw

Messrs. Anderson & Shaw, Wholesale Tea and Wine and Spirit Merchants, Morrison and Dundas Streets, Kingston.—

            The distinguished house named above was founded in 1869 by its present proprietors and principals, Messrs. Alexander D. Anderson & Gavin Shaw, who carry on to-day, under the style of Anderson & Shaw, one of the largest wholesale tea, wine, and spirit businesses in Glasgow, the latter department having, perhaps, a principal place in the undertakings of the concern. The house commenced operations in West Campbell Street, and removed in 1887 to its present large and commodious premises at the comer of Morrison Street and Dundas Street, South Side.

          The great and notable speciality of this eminent firm consists in their “Challenge Old Highland Whisky”. Since Messrs. Anderson & Shaw began business twenty years ago their “Challenge” whisky has become famous all over Scotland, and in all the large centres of England, for, though beer may be said to be the national beverage of the latter country, yet, for several years past, there has been a growing popular taste in favour of really good Scotch whisky. One cause of this is the greater care that has latterly been bestowed on the blending of whiskies, and the fuller knowledge manifested by dealers and bottlers of the qualities of the different products of the several Scottish distilleries. The higher flavoured whisky of the Highlands is blended skilfully with the milder distillation of the Lowlands, this being done in such proportions of each as will make a more palatable beverage than either separately ; and as each distillery produces an almost distinct flavour of its own, there is required both judgment and knowledge to effect a good and palatable blend. Then, of course, all whisky to be thoroughly good and wholesome must have the maturity of age.

            Messrs. Anderson & Shaw are imprimis blenders, and they have been exceedingly fortunate in their choice of whiskies and in their proportions to make a good blend, if one can judge by the marked success of their business and by the constantly increasing demand for their deservedly famed “Challenge” whisky. This blend is quite a perfect old Scotch whisky of magnificent flavour, excellent bouquet, and thorough maturity, and is one of the most popular, not only in Scotland, but throughout the British Isles, some parts of the Continent, and far away in the Australian colonies.

    It has obtained very high medallic honours, notably the highest and only award, gold medal, London, 1884 ; the highest possible award, diploma of honour, London, 1885 ; and the award of a diploma at Edinburgh, 1886. It has always been highly recommended for its purity and wholesome character, and is one of the most eminently reliable and uniform whiskies in the market. Concerning this spirit the Scottish Wine, Spirit, and Beer Trade Review of April 12th, 1888, writes : “The Challenge Old Highland Whisky ! The name has a happy ring about it, and reminds the Highlander of the ancient legend, ‘ Caistal Dubh Iner Lochaidb, Dh’ennain co Th’eridho e,’ which, being interpreted, means, ‘ Gainsay it who can.’

    “The Challenge” is a blend of Highland malts from the best distilleries west and north, and kept maturing in Messrs. Anderson and Shaw’s bonded stores from five to ten years before being put into the blending vat. It is now generally conceded that a blend is more desirable in every way than self whiskies, being, for one thing, more palatable and pleasing to the majority. This “Challenge” Old Highland Whisky, blended by the proprietors, Messrs. Anderson & Shaw, of Kingston, Glasgow, stands foremost in the market.

    Of it Professor Stevenson McAdam says in his chemical report: ‘ Analytical Laboratory, Surgeon's Hall, Edinburgh. I have made a careful chemical analysis of a sample of “The Challenge” Old Highland Whisky, forwarded to me by Messrs. Anderson & Shaw, Glasgow, and find such to be well matured, practically free from fusel oil, or other noxious ingredients, and of fine quality. It possesses an excellent bouquet, is highly palatable, and may be confidently used wherever a pure wholesome spirit is desired. Stevenson MacAdam, Ph.D., &c., Lecturer on Chemistry. And the Professor knows what he is about. Some people don’t put much trust in awards given by exhibition committees, but no one can venture to say that the gentlemen composing such are always in the wrong. We find that wherever Messrs. Anderson & Shaw’s ‘Old Scotch’ has been exhibited it held its own against all comers”.

             The Mercantile Age, in its issue of January 2nd, 1888, has the following: “There are few firms that possess blends of whisky that are yearly becoming more popular, and deservedly so. We know “The Challenge” Old Highland Whisky, and are prepared to say that in our opinion it is blended in such a manner as to produce a uniform, pleasant, and honest stimulant of great purity and old age — a whisky comparatively free from non-volatile organic matter, of satisfactory strength, and well matured in sherry wood. Medical men, dietists, connoisseurs of whisky, and an appreciative public have, by their patronage, given abundant evidence that this whisky is perfect in quality, bouquet, and flavour.

    The “invalid port” is equally well known, and, we believe, as much appreciated, for it is a pure port wine free from any adulteration, and chosen from the best vintages. We are glad to hear that the demand for pure port wine is on the increase. And if it were only known that this rich and full-flavoured old port can be had, more would be purchased. It is only because there has been so much adulteration in the Portuguese wine, and of certain chemical decoctions made to pass for it, that the good port wine has been somewhat neglected within recent years. But, as all medical men can testify, there is no better stimulating and health-restoring wine than the fully-seasoned pure port wine”.

    Messrs. Anderson and Shaw conduct an extensive business in wines of all descriptions, holding a valuable and select stock, and they have a variety of specialities of note in quinine wine, lime juice cordial, raspberry vinegar, and sundry other British wines and cordials which are all of the highest excellence and guaranteed purity.

            Another very prominent feature of the business of the house consists in the tea department, and the firm enjoy a most eminent reputation for their felicitous blends of India and China teas, put up for convenience in neatly japanned tins of five, ten, fifteen, and twenty pounds each. These tins, in common with all the firm’s other specialities, bear the “Challenge” trade-mark, a reproduction in miniature from Landseer’s celebrated Highland stag painting, too well known to need description, and thoroughly appropriate as a distinguishing mark for goods which constantly challenge and court competition.

    The Mercantile Age says in regard to Messrs. Anderson & Shaw’s tea: “This blend of tea is most strongly recommended by us, and cannot but be highly appreciated by connoisseurs who prefer flavour combined with strength. The tea above referred to examined by us contained very little mineral matter, the tannin, nitrogen, and other properties being excellently balanced. We recommend it for its remarkable delicacy and fragrance. It is quite evident that in the special blend of the firm there is a mixture of some of the finest teas grown. We do not wish to offer one word savouring of flattery, but never before has it been our pleasure to examine better samples of tea”.

           The very substantial block of buildings at the junction of the two thoroughfares above named, and the free and bonded warehouses, with the offices and packing rooms, cover a total superficial area of about 90,000 square feet. The entrance to the counting-house is at 53, Morrison Street, and that to the bonded stores is in Dundas Lane. The public and private offices are very handsomely appointed, the former being connected with the Telephonic Company’s Exchange, and can be switched on to any  firm in or around Glasgow having similar telephonic connection. In the duty-paid warehouse the large general stock of whisky is kept in eleven oaken vats, capable of holding from one hundred to five hundred gallons each, and all ranged in order of size. The floorage area of this warehouse is about seventy-five by forty feet.

         The ground floor of the building is capable of holding one thousand casks. The walls are lined with twenty vats, holding up to three hundred gallons, and a large stock of wines in casks upon the gauntrees. The roof is lofty. The floor is concreted, and there is an air of sweetness and cleanliness prevailing. This floor is principally devoted to British wines and cordials, and, were our space not so limited, we believe that we could make some interesting and useful observations respecting the production of these exquisite beverages. However, we believe that the firm’s ginger wine, quinine wine, lime juice cordial, raspberry vinegar, and the score of other specialities are so well known and so extensively used by an appreciative British public as to make it unnecessary to add any detailed remarks respecting the modus operandi of production. We will only here state that in every instance the ingredients are the finest procurable. The rectifying and other operations of manufacture are conducted in the most scientific manner; and the bottling, corking, capsuling, and other machinery is the best that mechanical science can produce.

             In close proximity to this department we find the coopers’ workshops, where casks and cases are made and repaired by their own tradesmen. The cork-chests, we observed, were full of the first quality of cut corks, free from dust, and remarkably clean, every cork branded with the firm’s name.

           After the whisky has been blended and thoroughly matured it is conveyed to the bottling department, situate on the floor above. Here it is run first into a vat holding about eight hundred gallons, and from thence it is drawn off, filtered, bottled, and corked, and finally capsuled and labelled. The bottles used are of clear white glass, and show well and advantageously the distinctive and finely finished label. Each bottle is encased in a straw envelope, and they are then packed into strong cases of from one to six dozens. After that they are ready for the great world of consumption, and are placed in store to await the exigencies of home or foreign orders.

           Messrs. Anderson & Shaw control a trade of great magnitude and importance in all departments of their extensive and valuably connected business, and one that the energy and vigilant enterprise of the proprietors are continually extending and enhancing both in volume and value. In their “Challenge” whisky they possess a speciality of the highest commercial worth, and one that will serve to maintain, in any part of the globe to which it may find its way, the reputation so long enjoyed, by Scotland as the land par excellence of whisky distillation.

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