Annandale distillery re-opened in 2007 has become the first Scotch to put its first cask up for sale, for the eye-watering price of £1 million. In a stroke of marketing genius that will certainly make the world take notice. The restored and refurbished whisky distillery and visitor centre sees the water of life return to Dumfries-shire a long term dream of Professor David Thompson 59 his wife Teresa Church 55. Production began in 2014 and the first fill is expected to be matured for at least 10 years, though it could legally be opened in 2018 after maturing for its minimum of 3 years and still be considered a Scotch
Distinctly Scottish Whisky
The distilleries has two signature lines “Man o’ Words” filling barrels 1-38, and “Man o’ Swords” filling 40-75. The former is a fruity, non-peated expression tipping its hat to Scotland’s best loved son and national poet Robert Burns, the latter is smoky and peated giving a nod to Robert the Bruce, the Scottish king during the Wars of Scottish Independence against England.
The distilleries first cask is being put up for £1 million, while barrel 8, the Chinese lucky number has been put up for £880,000 in recognition of the high interest shown by Chinese whisky enthusiasts taken by the distilleries heritage and links with Robert Burns and Robert the Bruce. David Thompson hopes that the opportunity to buy a piece of Scottish history, the first cask of a new distillery will help put the distillery back on the tourist map. The couple who also own MMR Research a global consumer research firm look to be well placed to put the distillery to the forefront of mind both at home an abroad as every aspect of the brands marketing (except perhaps the website) shows considerable care and thought, even the distilleries branding celebrates the regions maritime history with the ‘A’ of Annandale in the image of a tea clippers (the kind historically built in Annan) sail billowing in the wind.
The Distilleries History
Originally established in 1836 Annandale distillery was originally built by George Donald, an excise man from Elgin who ran the distillery until 1883 when it temporarily passed to John Gardener the son of the Liverpool mayor. The distillery was then purchased by Jonnie Walker who mothballed it in 1918, before finally closing it 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 the families cattle. During that time the distilleries history lay forgotten until 2007 when Teresa Church and David Thompson realised its potential and decided the south of Scotland needed a new distillery.
The Distilleries poor state of repair took a four year labour of love and a £10.5 million restoration project production finally resumed in 2014 after a 90 year hiatus. With the exception of master distiller Malcolm Rennie formerly of Kilchoman Islay distillery the entire staff both part and full time are local residents.
What about the Whisky
Well we may be looking at about 10 years before anyone can tell us much about the taste making the £1 million price tag something of a gamble for would be investors, Master distiller Malcolm commented to that “3 yr old bottlings are necessary for new distilleries for all sorts of reasons but obviously lack maturity, so I would say something like 6 yrs old minimum to let the wood give more complexity and maturity”. While he wouldn’t go on record about maximum maturation time he also noted that if left too long the “lower strength alcohol starts to extract more water soluble components giving the characteristic ‘woody’ effect.”