By Andy Clark

"Charge your glasses and make a toast!" How many times have you heard that? And how many times do those glasses get charged with a fine malt whisky?

In fact, that's basically what whisky is – a toast to times gone by; a tribute to the moonshiners, the excise-evaders, the pioneers, the visionaries. The people through the years who made whisky what it is today.

Whether they're a new bottler or distiller, or one of the great old brands – whether they make it a key selling point, or simply make a nod to it in their still-infant story – history, heritage, is what whisky is all about at its heart.

But there is one bottler I've just come across that has gone even further than that. Even its name is a homage to history.

The Whisky Baron – based in Surrey and on the go for little more than two years – took its name from a group of 19th century pioneers who transformed the image of a dram, and who created some of the greatest brands on the market today.

The Whisky Barons – James Buchanan, Baron Woolavington; John Dewar, Baron Forteviot, & Thomas Baron Dewar; Sir Alexander Walker (whose orignal brand became Johnnie Walker), James Baron Stevenson (another Johnnie Walker visionary); Sir Peter Mackie (creator of White Horse); Douglas Haig, Earl Haig; Francis Berry, Walter Berry & Hugh Rudd (Cutty Sark and the still-legendary Berry Bros & Rudd brand) and Captain William McCoy (where the saying 'the real McCoy' came from) – took whisky's rugged Scottish origins and presented it as the sophisticated dram of the London gentleman. The rest, as they say is history.

And while these are illustrious footsteps in which to follow, naming a company after them surely adds a certain pressure to The Whisky Baron's work?

But, speaking to founder Jake Sharpe it's clear that he is confident in the drams he has bottled so far ... a 10-year-old Fettercairn, a 12-year-old Glenrothes and a 16-year-old Bunnahabhain. Each one is limited-edition and bottled for quality, pure and simple.

And, to be honest, having bought the Fettercairn just a couple of weeks ago, that quality shines through in spades. I get the feeling this is a company worth watching.

So what's next, I ask Jake. "We have two other whiskies almost ready to go. If it hadn't been for coronavirus, we'd have been releasing them about now."

And, even though we're talking on the phone, when he tells me what they are I can almost see the glint in his eye.

"They're a Glentauchers 22-year-old, distilled in July 1997 and aged in a bourbon barrel, and a Springbank 23-year-old from a sherry butt. Both will be released at cask strength – we've had fantastic feedback, so I'm really excited."

And no wonder ... these drams, if they are as good as Jake says, could really put The Whisky Baron on the map.

But one final thought ... remember that just because you're steeped in history, it doesn't mean you're a slave to it. Jake is determined to stay firmly in the modern world too ... and has a little trick up his sleeve to prove it.

Each of The Whisky Baron's drams comes with a unique augmented reality experience. All you have to do is download the app and each of the labels comes to life, offering distillery information, food pairings, cocktail recipes and lots more about the whisky you're drinking. It's a great gimmick ... like your own guided tour through the world of whisky.

So watch this space, charge your glasses and make a toast to history ... hopefully the future will take care of itself.