Robert Hillcoat & Sons
Robert Hillcoat & Sons, Scotch Whisky Merchants, 39, Stockwell Street.—
Certainly in no department of Glasgow’s commercial activity have greater efforts been put forth towards the attainment of a high degree of perfect organisation and excellence of output than in the blending and supplying of the famed national whiskies of Scotland, and in this peculiarly interesting and important trade the eminent house of Messrs. Robert Hillcoat & Sons holds a position of more than ordinary note and distinction. This old and extensive business dates its history back as far as the beginning of the century, and enjoyed from the first a career of steady progress and prosperity, which was much enhanced when some time ago Mr. Robert Hillcoat, the former head of the house, purchased and added to his own business the wholesale business of the well-known firm of Messrs. D. Lade & Co. This augmentation of the resources of the concern was attended by a consequent increase in the volume and scope of its undertakings, and that increase has been steady and continuous down to the present day, when Messrs. Hillcoat stand among the foremost of Glasgow’s representative blenders of and merchants in the best classes of Scotch whisky.
At the above address in Stockwell Street this prominent firm occupy very fine premises, consisting of stores and offices, well and conveniently located in a most commodious and substantial building, and admirably suited to all the purposes and requirements of a great wholesale and export spirit trade. The cellarage and all the storage accommodation here is of the very best character, and the stocks held are remarkable for volume, value, and comprehensiveness. Scotch whiskies are the principal features, but the firm have also a particularly choice selection of wines, some of very great age, and all of the finest quality and most perfect condition.
It is, however, as blenders and suppliers of Scotch whiskies that Messrs. Robert Hillcoat & Sons have won their widest celebrity, and in this connection the magnitude of their operations is possibly unexcelled. They possess the most capacious blending vat in Scotland, a monster receptacle over eighteen feet in diameter, eight feet deep, and held together by eight great iron hoops, each weighing a hundredweight. This capacious vat has been constructed and fitted with the newest appliances to blend no less than twelve thousand gallons (imperial measure) of whisky, and a blending of this magnitude (the largest ever attempted in Scotland) was duly engaged in by Messrs. Hillcoat at the inauguration of their phenomenal vat in January, 1887. Just as an illustration of what twelve thousand imperial gallons of Scotch whisky actually represents in bulk and space, it may be mentioned that according to the calculations of Major Andrew Hillcoat (one of the partners in the firm), were the whisky bottled and the bottles placed end to end they would make an unbroken line of glass-encompassed liquor from St. Enoch’s Station to Port Glasgow, a distance of twenty miles !
The quality of Messrs. Hillcoats’ blends is too well and widely known to need any commendation here. Their several brands of old Highland whiskies have won the esteem and approval of keen connoisseurs throughout the world, and one of these blends gained the distinction of a prize medal at Melbourne in 1880, the only place at which the firm have exhibited. The reports of eminent analysts upon this same prize-medal whisky speak in the highest terms for its purity, excellent flavour, and maturity.
As an evidence of the favour in which Messrs. Hillcoat’s whiskies are held at the antipodes — whither great quantities of all the best Scotch whiskies are exported — we may refer to the bill of fare of the St. Andrew’s Day supper of the Caledonian Society of Canterbury, New Zealand, held at that town in 1884. The menu comprised a very tempting and thoroughly national array of edibles, and interspersed between the several courses of the feast were characteristic phrases of such import and significance as “A hue o’ Hillcoat’s Best”, “Ae wee drappie o’ Milton-Duff”, “ A half-mutchkin amang four”, and, finally, as an appropriate “stirrup-cup”, a “Houpie o’ Hillcoat’s Best”. “Hillcoat’s Best” can assuredly be nothing but good in the highest degree to so fully secure the unanimous approval of a numerous and festive gathering of Scotchmen in the far-away Land of the Golden Fleece. The firm do an immense volume of wholesale and export trade ; and besides a widespread and valuable home connection, they maintain most influential business relations with Canada and the States, the East and West Indies, Africa, and all the Australasian colonies, as well as with many other parts of the world.
The individual members of the firm are Mr. William Hillcoat, a notable Freemason, and Mr. Andrew Hillcoat, who is a major in the volunteer service. Two more popular merchants it would be hard to find in Glasgow, and under their able direction the characteristic prosperity of the house over whose fortunes they preside will find a future continuance befitting its long attendance upon the career of a business so thoroughly deserving the good fortune it has achieved.
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