Nichol Andersen and Co Ltd
Nicol Anderson set up business as a wine merchant and brewer’s agent in St Enoch Square, Glasgow around 1880, when he created the Baillie Nicol Jarvie brand or BNJ. Anderson allegedly named the blend after one of the central characters in Walter Scott’s novel, Rob Roy – a patriotic Glaswegian magistrate and merchant and an example of the Lowland gentry.
The company became limited in 1902 but failed during World War I, with R Thorne & Sons of Greenock Distillery acquiring the assets in 1919. However, Thorne too then failed in 1921 and Macdonald & Muir of Leith gained the BNJ brand from the liquidator, reputedly for £20. Nicol Anderson and Co. Ltd. was incorporated in 1927.
From this point on BNJ became an available and respected brand which was introduced into the US by agents Balfour, Guthrie & Co of San Francisco after Prohibition had ended. When King James was introduced, possibly as a deluxe version of BNJ, is not clear. However, it too was sold in the US, but had a different agent in the form of Aiglon Wine and Spirits Import Co of New York.
A later version of BNJ appeared in 1994 when Macdonald & Muir relaunched it as a rich blend with a 60% malt content drawn from Islay, Speyside and the Highlands, and grain from the Girvan Distillery. The youngest component whisky was at least 8 years old.
After an expensive advertising campaign in 2014, which unsuccessfully attempted to take market share from Bell’s and the Famous Grouse, and with increasing pressure to conserve Glenmorangie’s malt portfolio for single malt bottlings, BNJ was finally withdrawn by which time King James had also disappeared.