Haig Club Whisky
The first record of the Haigs malting whisky dates from 1655 when Robert Haig was summoned by the church elders for distilling on the Sabbath. This was during the time when Oliver Cromwell was Lord Protector for Scotland and Puritanism was at its height.
Robert Haig was born at Bemersyde, the second son of James Haig and Elisabeth McDougall.
By the time of Robert’s birth James VI was on the throne and the Haigs had acquired an important neighbour: the Earl of Mar had been granted the lands of Dryburgh Abbey and he was hereditary guardian of the royal children.
Lady Bemersyde was made nursemaid to the Princess Elizabeth, elder sister of the future Charles I.
James Haig, Robert’s father, was a reiver and a man of most turbulent and vindictive temper.
When James Haig was banished by the King and had to flee to Holland the family fell on hard times.
The Earl of Mar took Robert into his service and Robert left for Alloa and started the whisky branch of the family.
On the subsequent death of his father and elder brother, Robert should have inherited, but the estate was transferred to a younger brother, David, married and living in Holland.
In 1751 Robert’s great, great grandson, John Haig, married Margaret Stein. The Stein family owned distilleries at Kilbagie and Kennetpans near Alloa in the Lowlands. When John Haig died suddenly in 1773, his father-in-law took his five sons on as apprentices at Kilbagie and taught them.
It is said that John Haig’s widow took to her bed and could not be comforted. Her mother appeared to her as if in a dream and invoked her to attend to her children as her descendant would achieve greatness.
It was John Haig, John’s grandson, who secured his family’s name in Scotch Whisky in 1824 with the build of Cameronbridge distillery in Fife, and the founding of John Haig & Co. This John Haig was father to the Commander-in-chief of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), Earl Haig of the first World War.
The whisky company remained in family ownership until 1919 when, as a result of consolidation of the Scotch Whisky trade following World War 1 shortages, it was acquired by DCL.
By 1939 the Haig blend was the best-selling whisky in Britain. For more information on Haig whisky you can visit the Haig Club website.