An interview with Michael Thomson
Ex Managing Director Peter Thomson (Perth) Ltd
What were the original components of Old Perth?
The blend varied throughout the years but was usually a combination of Speyside, Highland, and Islay Malts and North British grain aged up to 12 years old. Due to Peter Thomson’s links to Macallan there was usually some Macallan in the blend. The proportions and ages of each was determined by the Chairman, David Thomson, the son of the founder Peter Thomson and then blended in Perth by Bert Speedy. It was never sold until checked by all Directors.
Was it sold abroad? Where?
No – it was primarily sold to pubs and bars across Scotland. The brand didn’t go as far afield as it does now anyway! It’s great to see that Old Perth is now being sold all across the world.
How was the brand promoted and sold?
Peter Thomson’s had a varying number of salesmen at any one time. At the height of the business there were about 18-20 on the road who were responsible for selling all Peter Thomson products ranging from Macallan Single Malt to Buckfast!
One tactic we used to promote the Old Perth brand was to include a bottle of Old Perth with every case of Beneagles sold.
Today’s Old Perth Brands retail around the £30 mark. How much did a bottle cost while you were at Peter Thomsons?
Having looked at the Peter Thomson’s price lists that are now kept in Perth Library I can confirm that the trade price for a case (12 bottles) of Old Perth was £55.13. Our suggested price to the consumer for Old Perth was £5.70 a bottle back in 1977. As a comparison, our RRP for Glendronach 12 was £6.34, Bowmore 8 was £6.67 and Macallan 10 was £6.25.
If we go back as far as 1964, a case of 12 bottles of Old Perth would cost 484 shillings with a single bottle costing 44 shillings and a sixpence. A case of 10 year old Glen Grant by comparison would cost 530 shillings so it seems that Old Perth is as good value for money now as it was back in 1964!
How did Old Perth compare to the other blends of the time?
Old Perth was not sold in the same kind of quantities as the other famous Perth blends such as Dewars, Bells, Famous Grouse or even Beneagles. However, it was considered a better quality whisky due to the proportion of Malt whisky used and no doubt because of the high concentration of Macallan. Looking back on the minutes taken of a meeting back on Friday 17th January 1969 it was noted that “the sales were slow and yet this whisky was probably one of the best on the market”.
Why did Old Perth come to an end?
There was no conscious decision to stop selling Old Perth. As the company put more and more focus on selling Beneagles there was less time and effort dedicated to promoting and selling Old Perth. Over time the brand was somewhat forgotten about. Eventually, the brand was replaced by Beneagles Deluxe.
What do you think of today’s Old Perth and the new Sherry and Peated editions?
I have been a big fan of Old Perth since it was re-released by Kenny MacKay and his team back in 2013 often buying cases of the whisky from Excel Wines in Perth or from Morrison & MacKay themselves! The new Sherried and Peated versions are exciting and I can see them being very popular. Hopefully the brand can continue to grow and the City of Perth will once again have its own whisky to be proud of.