OUR HISTORY

Scroll through our timeline to discover how we entered a new era of whisky drinking as a Scotch that was made for mixing… For those history buffs out there, you’ll also be able to find out more about the Cutty Sark ship (which inspired our iconic name and label!)

1920s

1920 - Prohibition

What is Prohibition? Nicknamed “the Noble Experiment”, Prohibition was a complete ban on the production, importation and sale of alcohol in the US (can you imagine?!). It lasted almost 14 years, and everyone who still supported the drinking of alcohol had to unite together to stand up against the establishment and keep the liquor business alive in secret.

1922 - The Cutty Sark Ship

The legendary Tea Clipper ship ‘Cutty Sark’ – the fastest ship of its day – retired to England for naval training.

1923 - Cutty Sark Blended Scotch Whisky

Our whisky was thought up on the 23rd of March 1923, at No. 3 St James’s Street in London. The partners of Berry Bros. & Rudd (the famous wine makers), Francis Berry and Hugh Rudd, met with Scottish artist James McBey for lunch. Pretty quickly, the conversation turned to whisky (as all good conversations do), and they soon realised that there was a need to create a new, lighter style of blended whisky. With a dream to go global, their first aim was to break the USA. Read more about our whiskies here

 

1920's Continued

1923 - The Legend Behind The Label

The famous drawing of the Cutty Sark appears on the whisky bottles. And why is it yellow? If truth be told, that’s a result of a printing error!

1923 - The Real McCoy

Not that long after Prohibition began, Captain Bill McCoy started smuggling in Rum Row (the name given to Atlantic waters just outside the US maritime border). Captain McCoy’s reputation for dealing in only the finest liquor resulted in Cutty Sark being referred to as “The Real McCoy”.  He was caught in late 1923, and by that time Cutty Sark had captured the hearts (and taste buds) of whisky fans across the country.

1927 - Cutty Sark First Appears On The Export Price List 

Berry Bros. & Rudd offer cases of 12 bottles at 56/ - shillings.

1930s - 1950s

1933 - The end of Prohibition leads to a meteoric rise in popularity

When Prohibition came to an end and alcohol was no longer illegal, sales of Cutty Sark shot up. Over 7,000 cases of Cutty Sark Blended Scotch Whisky were sold by 1934, with over 80,872 cases being sold by 1936!

1954 - Cutty Sark at Greenwich

As the ship entered Greenwich, the event was captured by the BBC. Because it had been modified over the years, Cutty Sark was restored over three years to her original appearance as a Tea Clipper, and Greenwich has been her home ever since.

1956 - Cutty Sark Advertising 

In 1956, new press advertisements which used full colour pictures of the clipper ship sailing at top speed were seen for the first time. The stunning designs of Cutty Sark were award-winning, and helped kick-start a long and successful campaign.

1960s - 1990's

1961 – Cutty Sark becomes best-selling Scotch whisky in the USA

Thanks to the end of Prohibition and its huge fan base, Cutty Sark became the first Scotch whisky to sell a million cases in the United States of America.   

1963 - Cutty Sark in Space

Gordon Cooper (the youngest of the USA’s first seven astronauts) smuggled a 5cl bottle of Cutty Sark (and some cigarettes) for a midnight snack on the Mercury 9 mission.

1968 - Cutty Sark Sales skyrocket

Cutty Sark sold 2.4m cases. That’s around 200,000 cases a month. Which is a lot.

1971 – Queen’s award for export

This was awarded again in 1981.

1996-2007 – Cutty Sark on the Silver Screen

Hollywood brings Cutty Sark to the big screen with 1996’s “The Associate” starring Whoopi Goldberg. It can also be seen in a number of classics over the years, including “Raging Bull” (1980), “Goodfellas” (1990), “The Sopranos” (1999) and “Mad Men” (2007). Enjoyed by everyone from gentry to gangsters!

Have you spotted Cutty on screen before? Tweet us @cuttysarkblend

 

2000's - Today

2003 – Cutty Sark wins Whisky Magazine’s “Blended Scotch Whiskies” category

In the Best of the Best tasting, Cutty Sark 25 was the highest scoring whisky overall, and was described as “a complex masterpiece” and “a golden wonder”. Not bad feedback, eh?

2010 – Edrington and Cutty Sark

Edrington acquires Cutty Sark on April 1st from Berry Bros. & Rudd.

2013 – Say hello to Cutty Sark Prohibition

Released 80 years after Prohibition ended, our Prohibition Edition whisky has been crafted as a salute to the notorious (or some may say courageous) Bill McCoy, and to celebrate the end of “The Noble Experiment”. Learn more about Cutty Sark Prohibition