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Annandale Distillery was established way back in 1836 by George Donald, an Elgin-based excise officer who named the site after the valley it sits in just 15 minutes from the English border. Using water from the Guillielands Burn for cooling and power and from Middleby Burn for the whisky, the Lowland site functioned for nearly a century, once capable of making 28,000 gallons of spirit annually and even passing through the hands of John Walker & Sons before whisky making ceased in the early 1920s. It was later a production line for the Provost porridge oats breakfast cereal brand, but before long the buildings fell into a state of disrepair.

That’s how things remained until 2007 when Annandale caught the eye of a husband-and-wife/business partner team. Professor David Thomson, an expatriate Scot, was looking for a project that would anchor his life back to his native Scotland while Teresa Church was keen to find work that supported her enduring passion for restoring old buildings. Annandale ticked all the boxes and so began an extensive £10.5 million restoration project that culminated in the restoration of Annandale Distillery in 2014.

Whisky flowed from the stills on Annandale again on 3 November 2014. The whole production setup was built under the guidance and supervision of the late, great Dr. Jim Swan, who had known Thompson since the mid-1980s after they’d met at a sensory conference in London. Swan advised the use of traditional wooden washbacks and helped source high-quality casks. The distillery produces both peated and unpeated single cask, single malt bottled at cask strength, often inspired by Scottish heroes.

The peated whiskies are bottled under the Man O’ Sword name after King Robert the Bruce, Scotland’s warrior king and the 7th Lord of Annandale, while unpeated whisky is presented as Man O’ Words after Robert Burns, the Scottish Bard and once an exciseman in Annandale). There was also an Outlaw King Blended Scotch whisky released in 2019 to celebrate the Netflix film of the same name.

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