Island life: Raymond Davidson

In each edition we ask one of the industry’s great and good to tell us what they would take with them to our island
By Rob Allanson
Raymond Davidson
Raymond Davidson
Raymond left Airdrie Academy at 18 and joined Honeywell, an American company, as a technical apprentice where he soon became an environmental test engineer. Raymond always wanted a career in sales and moved to work for Crown paints and then Matchbox toys.

One day a colleague asked if he would be interested in setting up a new division for Edinburgh Crystal, to manage their new corporate business.

After a while he realised that Edinburgh Crystal were unable to supply the needs of this new range of customers. The corporate customers were far more demanding. Their technical demands, such as exacting fill levels, effective closures, and prevention of lead leaching told Raymond that there was an opportunity to establish a business to meet these requirements.

Raymond established Glencairn but was always interested in music, running dances, and playing in bands or playing solo in pubs. When he set up Glencairn he was still playing part-time and thought if the new company proves difficult financially, he would just play more nights. Fortuitously, for everyone out there, the business did well. We catch up with him and some of his favourite whiskies.

Whisky #1
Johnnie Walker
Black Label

This is a nostalgic dram. It is one of those whiskies that, when I was living in Airdrie, Scotland, pretty much everyone drank. It was one of the things my two elder cousins agreed about, disagreeing about everything else of course. It is a stalwart, always available. If I walk into a pub I don’t know somewhere in the world, I will pick this just to start me off. It is so consistent, like an old friend.

Whisky #2
16 Years Old

Another nostalgic dram. My sons and I often toast the memory of Jim Drysdale with a dram of this; it was his favourite. Jim worked for me for just under 30 years before he passed in 2012. He was a great character, much loved by folk, no more so than the boys and I. It would really invoke fond memories of a great man. Without him Glencairn would not be as successful as it is – he was instrumental in designing pretty much everything from cartons and boxes for us. He was a great cartoonist too and had a brilliant sense of humour.

Whisky #3
18 Years Old

Whisky depends on which mood I am in, it will inform my choice. Sometimes I will get stuck on something I like for several months, and this is one of those whiskies. I currently have a hankering for sherried whiskies and this hits that spot nicely.

Whisky #4
12 Years Old

I remember attending Whisky Live in Paris years ago, and was handed a drink as I went in. I thought to myself, "This is really very nice" and it was Redbreast. I have only tasted the 12 Years Old version and you cannot get it really in pubs in Scotland, but I do like it and it suits me. I believe there is a 27 Years Old out there I would love to try.

Whisky #5

This would be my luxury whisky of choice and I'd like it to be an aged blend. Knowing the master blenders over the years, there’s some great characters amongst them. I have tasted some phenomenal whiskies and blends up to 38 and 40 years old, and I do like a blend. So, I would be very happy to be given an aged blend. Sadly bars tend not to stock them as there is still the perception that blends are inferior to single malts, and it is something the industry still has to address. The effort that the blender will go to in order to produce this fabulous product is being undermined just generally. The single malts are fabulous, but the industry needs to get the message out there about the blends.

A brief final luxury

It would have to be a guitar. I am a big fan of Lonnie Donegan, and I found a Martin guitar signed by him, so I would be quite content with that.