Annandale Distillery


Dumfries & Galloway

History: Historically, many of the distilleries around Scotland closed due to hard times. Only recently, because of the boom in Scotch, are we starting to see these distilleries brought back to life. The original Annandale Distillery was built in 1830 by former Elgin-based excise officer George Donald, who named the site after the valley in which it is situated. It closed in 1919, but in 2007, husband and wife team, David Thomson and Teresa Church, took on the challenge of trying to restore the distillery to its former glory. Over seven years they spent over £10 million rebuilding and planning their brand. In 2014, the first spirit ran off the stills at Annandale distillery.

The spirit: While they were waiting for their whisky to age, Annandale Distillery provided an opportunity for people to join their elite private cask ownership group. This meant you could become an owner of one of a very limited number of first-production 200 litre casks from the distillery. The first cask they ever filled had a price tag of £1m. They also released – not a gin, but Rascally Liquor. Rascally is made from the malt spirit produced exclusively at Annandale, and is distilled in traditional, small batch, copper stills. After nearly a century, just last week, the first Annandale single malt Scotch whisky was drawn from a cask. Whisky takes time and this must have been an extremely proud moment for the team at Annandale. A peated whisky named Man o' Sword in honour of Robert the Bruce is being produced along with the unpeated version called the Man o' Words, which is in tribute to Robert Burns.

Favourite dram: I have not been lucky enough to try the new whisky but I'm sure it will be good as the team seem determined to combine new techniques while still preserving the history of the whisky.

Why Visit? The distillery is open to the public for tours, which I would highly recommend you take the time to do. Compared to some of the bigger distilleries, this feel more like a family affair and much more personal than usual, as you are taken around the site. A number of tours are offered, ranging from a 45 minute visit to a more in-depth version lasting around two hours. You can even book a private tour from by distillery owner Professor David Thomson, for £50 per person.

Interesting fact: Scotch whisky historically was split into regions. Highlands & Islands, Speyside, Campbeltown, Islay and the Lowlands. Annandale is a Lowland land distillery. In fact, it's about as low as you can get and not far from Gretna Green if you fancy combining a quick wedding with some whisky. Compared to some of the other regions, the Lowlands only has a handful of distilleries but is seeing more and more popping up. The region is known for its light style, so Annandale are bucking the trend by creating a smoky style of single malt in their range.

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