A man with noble principles, James Buchanan was one of the most recognized Scotch whisky pioneers and one of the most successful entrepreneurs of his time.

His peers saw him as a man of unbreakable values. James Buchanan was the perfect Victorian gentleman and a worthy guardian of the whisky’s image.

1849 - 1935

James Buchanan's


Born in August 16, 1849 in Brockville, West Canada, James Buchanan was raised in a family of Scottish immigrants: Alexander Buchanan and his wife Catherine. The Buchanan family returned to Scotland in 1850 before moving to Northern Ireland.

In 1863, when he was fourteen years old, Buchanan started working as a messenger at the offices of WM Sloane & Co, a shipping agency, where he made 10 £ a year. In 1868 he joined his brother William in Glasgow, to help him out in his hay, grains and seeds business. He worked there for ten years before leaving to London to become a sales agent at the whisky firm of Charles MacKinlay.



The story of the success and the road to greatness of Buchanan started in Glasgow, Scotland, where he worked as an office assistant, until 1884, and first stepped into the whisky business by creating his own blend and founding James Buchanan & Co.

In 1885 James Buchanan won the call for tenders to become the only whisky supplier of the House of Commons, the Legislative Body of the British Parliament. In 1889 the Buchanan’s Blend won a gold medal at the Paris Centennial Exhibition.


Personal Life and Achievements

Near 1892 Buchanan married Annie Bardolph, a nurse 13 years younger with whom he had a child named Catherine. Unfortunately, Annie died later while working as a voluntary nurse during the war.

In 1897 Buchanan & Co was asked to fulfill a whisky order for the Prince of Wales (future King Edward VII), therefore they created an exceptional blend with their finest whiskies. The product didn’t receive a brand name, it was just known as “Scotch Whisky, Specially Selected”. The following year James Buchanan received royal orders to supply Queen Victoria and Prince of Wales.

Royal House and Nobility

In 1901 Buchanan became supplier of the British Royalty with “The Royal Household”, a whisky especially created for them. In 1907 he was asked to become the official supplier for the Emperor of Japan and the Royal Court of Spain. Meanwhile during the year of 1902 the company opened offices in Paris, New York, Hamburg and Buenos Aires.

In 1903 they purchased Lavington Park, a 3,000 acres estate in Sussex. There the company established their stable, with the sole purpose of having the best breeds of racing horses.

In 1922, as a way of recognizing his generous support of charities as well as his achievements as a Scotch whisky entrepreneur, James Buchanan received the title of nobility as Lord Woolavington, because of Lavington Park, his superb estate in Sussex.

Casa Real y nobleza

Casa Real y nobleza


James Buchanan was awarded with many honors during his life, among them an Honorary Doctorate in Law from the University of Edinburg and the Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire in 1931.



James Buchanan passed away at the age of 85 in 1935, when he was 85. He was buried next to his wife in the small cemetery of St. Giles, in Graffham, near Petworth, England. His will was a proof of generosity towards his friends and family. He gave money to almost everyone that surrounded him in addition to gifting extraordinary retirement pensions to those who served him loyally.

Horses and Wagons

The story of the House of Buchanan's would not be complete without mentioning its horses and wagons, which, for 40 years, became a crowd-attracting London trademark, especially for those who came from abroad. These wagons were the best way of advertising back in the day. The horses pulling the wagons were all the same breed, perfectly groomed and trained to gallop elegantly with a light trot. The horses were also regular gold medal winners at the International Horse Show.