‘Outlander’ star Sam Heughan joins the whiskey business with The Sassenach


‘Outlander’ – Sam Heughan on his Sassenach

Sam Heughan

Sam Heughan is serious about whiskey. So is his “Outlander” character, Jamie Fraser.

Indeed, the 39-year-old Scottish actor has a love for his country’s national drink that dates back to his teens and later in drama school. After graduation, a large dram of Speyside got him through many a lonely night while away from home working in London.

These days Heughan, a member of The Scottish Malt Whisky Society, is involved in the launch of his own brand of blended whiskey, The Sassenach – a Gaelic word meaning “the foreigner” and also a reference to the pet name Scotsman Jamie has for his English spouse, Claire (played by Caitriona Balfe). The whole project has been a labor of love for the star of the Sunday Starz time-travel/historical drama, one that he attributes to his heritage.

“I love whiskey and it always reminds me of home,” Heughan explains. “Whenever I go somewhere else, I’m drinking whiskey and that’s what I wanted to do with our whiskey – is like wherever you go in the world, wherever you are, pour yourself a glass of The Sassenach and it takes you home.

“And it’s a blended whiskey, which is kind of rare,” he adds. “A lot of the Asian whiskeys that are very popular right now, they’re blends. A lot of Scottish whiskey I find is kind of old school and I was like, ‘You know what? We can modernize it.’ And I think hopefully with our blend, people are going to really enjoy it. It’s going to be accessible as well.”

Heughan’s character in “Outlander” also has experience in the whiskey business, first as a bootlegger in the 17th century Scottish Highlands and later as a moonshiner in North Carolina.

But this is no moonshine. In The Sassenach, Heughan – through his Great Glen Company – endeavored to create what he considers “the perfect whiskey blend,” one that pleases his palate and, he hopes, that of others.

He thinks Jamie would be happy with the final product.

“It’s been a long process and (we) have come up against many challenges,” he says. “That’s why we kept having to move the goalposts when we wanted to have it finished by.”

“I wanted to create my own thing,” he continues, “and so it’s self-financed, we’ve designed it ourselves. It was a great company to help us with that process from start to end, really. …  And we have an amazing whiskey that we’re really proud of … . So yeah, I’m really excited.”

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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