Annandale distillery

The ‘not a Lowland distillery’. Although situated in Annan the distilleries style is anything but traditional for the region, the site uses double over triple distillation, and the two standard expressions, “Man O’Words” & “Man O’Swords” are more reminiscent of the Speyside and peated Highland styles respectively than Lowland.

One of several ‘lost’ Lowland distilleries to resume production in recent years. Annandale was originally established in 1836, built by George Donald, a former excise man from Elgin who ran the distillery until 1883 when it passed to John Gardener, the son of a Liverpool mayor. The distillery was acquired a decade later in 1893 by John Walker & Sons for the production of ‘Johnnie Walker’. Alas the distillery was mothballed in 1918, then closed for good in 1921, at which point it passed to the Robinson family. From 1924 until 2007 the family used the kiln and mash house as a drying plant for their ‘provost’ brand of porridge oats, the bonded warehouse housed their cattle.

During that time the distilleries history lay forgotten until 2007 when Teresa Church and David Thompson decided the south of Scotland needed a new distillery. Having been stripped of it’s equipment and used as a farm site it’s fair to say the distillery has been recreated as much as it has been restored though happily the original Doig ventilator is still present, albeit no longer in use. They were also able to source a Porteus mill from the closed Caperdonich distillery. The Maltings is now a tea room, the old still house is part excavated in the courtyard and production now takes place in the old millhouse. Regardless following a four year and £10.5 million restoration project, production finally resumed in 2014, after a mere 90 year hiatus.

It’ll come as no surprise to most to learn that David and Teresa are in market research, they also own MMR Research a global consumer research company. The marketing of the distillery has been top notch even if more wrapped up in Scottish heritage than your average tin of shortbread. From the eye-watering £1 million price of its first cask, the £880,000 price tag on barrel #8 (the Chinese lucky number) and the association with Robert the Bruce the aforementioned “Man O’Swords” and Scotland’s national poet Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns, the “Man O’Words” the distillery is clearly setting out to make a noise, with its focus on international markets. Don’t let that fool you though, the spirit is of an excellent calibre.

Annandale factsheet

Name Pronounced AKA Region Country of Origin
Annandale Lowlands Scotland
Status Active Whisky Type Website Tours Available
Active 1836 - Present Malt Annandale Tour Link
Manager Distiller Blender Owned by Parent Group
Malcom Rennie Annandale Distillery Company Limited

Annandale Timeline:

1830: The original Annadale distillery is founded by George Donald a former excise officer

1836: The first spirit flows at Annadale

1882: The Donald family cease distillation

1883: John Skye Gardener a successful business man and son of a former mayor acquires the lease

1893: Please passes to John Walker & Sons of Kilmarnock (Johnnie Walker)

1887: Annandale Distillery is rebuilt and extended

1918: Annadale distillery ceases operation in December

1924: Joseph Robinson (a grain merchant) buys the lease for farming

1921: Annadale is stripped of its equipment

2007: The Annandale Distillery Company Ltd. purchases the site

2014: The distillery begins operation for the first time in 95 years

2017: In November the first 20 early production casks were selected for bottling

Useful Annandale links:

Annandale at ScotchWhisky

Annandale at Whisky

Annandale at Wikipedia

Annandale at SMWS

Annandale at Whiskybase

Interesting Annandale links:

Annandale Comes of Age