Power & Elegance: Usquaebach Whisky – By Alex Park
The word “Usquaebach” – pronounced “oos-ke-bah”- is Gaelic for “the water of life.” You’re probably more familiar with the term “whisky” which was derived from Usquaebach after the term was shortened to “Usquae” (“oos-ke”). Eventually, the Usquaebach brand was born in 1877 and purchased by Twelve Stone Flagons Ltd. in 1969. Usquaebach Whisky prospered immediately and was even selected to be served at the White House Inaugural Dinners of President Nixon and President George H.W. Bush.
Although its recent success, a change in management led to the whisky’s decline. Less and less attention was given to Usquaebach, and an increasing preference of single malt whisky over blends left Usquaebach to go extinct, but Cobalt Brands became the new, proud owners of the company in 2005 to preserve the tradition and history of the special scotch whisky.
Usquaebach seeks to serve quality whisky that has the same style and taste as it did 200 years ago. They sell four signature whiskeys: Blended Scotch, Cask Strength Blended Malt Scotch, Reserve Premium Blended, and 15-Year Blended Malt. Each one has won awards –– the most recent having been the Chairman’s Trophy for the 2017 Ultimate Spirits Challenge, the Editor’s Choice 2017 Award for Whisky Magazine, and a Double Gold at the San Francisco Wine and Spirits Competition.
Bourbon and scotch whisky have become increasingly popular the past 10 years, and with a bigger market share there comes inevitable competition.“Whisky taste and culture has changed,” Sean Perry, CEO of Cobalt Brands that owns Usquaebach, told me. “What is considered a great whisky has also changed, I think people are more interested in power and elegance right now.” As someone who cares more about quality than quantity, Perry exemplifies his appreciation of whisky by focusing on the caliber of flavor of his products. The goal is to be recognized as a whisky company that genuinely cares about its product and to be regarded for its quality. “This is what whisky should taste like, and did taste like” Perry added, wanting to provide consumers a solid whisky outside the standard selection of Johnnie Walker or Jim Beam.
Usquaebach is sold in 30 states including New York and New Jersey and it can be purchased in Englewood Liquors, Fillerup Kosher Wines, and Total Wine. Whisky enthusiasts are invited to taste the ‘water of life’ and try a product crafted from serious distillers who are passionate about their product. With the overall style and taste, you’re going back in time when you sip a glass of Usquaebach whisky, just as it was 200 years ago.