Pipe bands, whisky and a Roll Royce, the fascinating story behind Red Hackle ghost sign:

For this month blog, Ghost signs of Glasgow volunteer Fiona Murray tell us the interesting story behind the ghost sign for Red Hackle Whisky, in the heart of the West End.

This fading ghost sign appears on the gable end of a building at 42 Otago Street. It is a painted sign for Red Hackle Whisky, possibly two layers with two different fonts, on one side is depicted a bottle of the said blended whisky.

Red Hackle sign, Otago Street

This company was founded in 1920 by two former members of the Black Watch Regiment who both served in WW1. The name Red Hackle was after the red feather in the head dress of the regiment.

Charles Hepburn and Herbert Ross founded the company and at the time claimed to have a workforce of ex military servicemen. This was at a time when many of these men were finding it hard to get employment.

The company sponsored a pipe band which became known as the Red Hackle Pipe Band. They were known to deliver their whisky around Glasgow in a specially made Rolls Royce which was a common sight due to the black and red stripes.

The whisky was a hit in the USA and the West of Scotland where they did a blend aged in oak barrels and a 12 year old which was aged in sherry barrels. They supplied the bars in RAF bases during the WW2 and it was claimed that the Prince of Wales who was Edward VIII requested it at a Vienna night club.

Herbert died in 1952 and Charles continued until the death of his wife when he lost the appetite for business and sold the company to Robertson and Baxter.

He then became a benefactor to many causes including Glasgow University, Glasgow Zoo and Scottish Rugby Union. This money paid for the installation of underground heating at Murrayfield which became the first international stadium to have underground heating.

In 1964 he was given an honorary doctorate by Glasgow University. He died on 16th July 1971 at the age of 80 and gifted his house and art collection to the university.

This whisky is no longer made but bottles can still be found on E-bay or whiskey auction sites where they are sold for a considerable amount of money.