Dr Paul Kosmetatos The Failure of Pattison’s Whisky

22 March 2018

On 3 December 1898, Pattisons’ Whisky, an established family blending business stopped payment just over two years after it had floated a minority of its share capital to the public.

The company’s minority shareholders and the receivers brought in to manage its affairs initially expected this to be a minor liquidity crisis of an otherwise robust business with valuable assets, which included parts of Glenfarclas and Aultmore distilleries, an Edinburgh brewery, and a number of bonded warehouses in prime Leith locations.

The company’s claims of over 50 years of operation as a major wine merchant, and the fact that its auditors had given it a clean bill of health only days before its stoppage supported this initial sense of optimism.

Very soon, however, the receivers found themselves facing a tangled web of false claims about the pedigree and assets of the business, together with substantial (and occasionally clever) accounting fraud that would eventually see the two Pattison brothers convicted in 1901.

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