Spencerfield keeps the spirit of James Anderson, Father of American whiskey, alive

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND, February 12, 2009 /24-7PressRelease/ — From Spencerfield Farm on the banks of the Forth, farmer and distiller James Anderson set sail for America in 1791 with his wife and seven children. There he advised George Washington to get into the whiskey distilling business and helped America’s first President become the country’s biggest producer of whiskey. 

Spencerfield Farm is still in the whiskey business today. The Spencerfield Spirit company produces and distributes two brands of whiskey, Sheep Dip malt whiskey and Pig’s Nose, a deluxe blend, to the States.

In 2005, husband and wife team, Alex and Jane Nicol, launched Spencerfield Spirit, an independent drinks company, fighting to save orphan brands for the iconoclastic whiskey drinker.

‘Orphan’ brands are once famous brands neglected by large companies because they are not seen to be profitable. The first two whiskies rescued from obscurity by Spencerfield Spirit are Sheep Dip and Pig’s Nose.

Both whiskies achieved cult status in the 70s and have been lovingly recreated by Richard Paterson, Scotland’s only third generation master blender. The phrase “Sheep Dip” is slang used by farmers for whiskey and Pig’s Nose takes its name from an old farming saying ‘as soft as a pig’s nose’.

Alex Nicol of Spencerfield Spirit explains: “Whiskey belongs on Spencerfield Farm and we are very proud of our links to the story of America’s whiskey.

“Using his knowledge and experience of farming and distilling, James Anderson left our land in Inverkeithing and became Farm Manager for George Washington, encouraging him to open the first rye distillery at Mount Vernon.

“The distillery, in West Virginia is a classic replica of what small country distilleries looked like in Scotland at the time and under Anderson’s guidance, it became an overnight business success.

“We are following in his footsteps by keeping whiskey deeply rooted to Spencerfield Farm and honouring his memory by bringing whiskey from his homeland to his new found home in the States.

“As Washington is regarded as a symbol of the USA, we believe that James Anderson deserves recognition for his entrepreneurial achievements, making him the undisputed Father of American Whiskey.”

Professor Michael Moss from Glasgow University who has carried out vast research into the history of Scottish Whiskey supports this claim.

“James Anderson was born at Spencerfield in 1745, the year of the Jacobite Rising. The next forty years witnessed a total transformation in Scottish agriculture as new ideas spawned by The Enlightenment were introduced.

“James Anderson, as a tenant farmer or tacksman, could count himself a pioneer of these improvements. Intelligent men educated in parish schools, they were often well read and their views were accurately described by the Scottish Bard, Robert Burns.

“Farms on the fertile lands of the east coast were well-suited to growing barley for London brewers and much more importantly the Scotch whiskey trade. In 1788, Scotland’s ‘great distillers’ led by the Haig and Stein families faced ruin, precipitating a financial crisis very similar to that we are experiencing today with the failure of our banking system.

“It is not difficult to deduce that rather than face financial ruin, James Anderson old as he was, chose to brave the north Atlantic and seek a new life with is family in the United States. If he had known that the French Revolution would have driven up prices of agricultural produce, he might have stayed; but that would have deprived Mount Vernon of its whiskey distillery.”