Annandale Distillery: Love At First Sight

Annandale Distillery: Love At First Sight

The Annandale story is a tale of love at first sight, with current owners David Thomson and Teresa Church falling for the dilapidated distillery the moment they clapped eyes on it. The couple have dedicated themselves to restoring this forgotten distillery in the Scottish Lowlands with an ambitious £12.5 million project that has taken ten years to complete.

One of Scotland’s oldest distilleries, the original distillery was founded in 1830 and named after the verdant valley in Dumfries and Galloway which offers a unique microclimate that is perfect for maturing whisky. Using water from the Middleby Burn for the whisky and the Guillielands Burn for cooling and power, the distillery produced single malt whisky for 90 years. At its height of production the distillery was making 28,000 gallons of whisky annually, a figure which would be considered craft production levels in today’s terms.

After several turbulent years with various changes of ownership, Annandale was finally closed by Johnnie Walker who owned the site for 20 years and producing peated whisky for his blends here. Annandale was sold in 1924 to a local porridge oats company which converted the distillery into a production line and even housed cattle in the bonded warehouses.

Under David and Teresa Annandale has been restored to its former fortunes and is now one of 18 working distilleries in the Scottish Lowlands. Prior to restarting whisky production, the couple carried out detailed research into the flavour profiles of over 60 of the world’s top whiskies. This cutting-edge research has allowed them to create two truly unique whiskies unlike anything else available on the market.

Today Annandale is known for crafting two single malts: the smooth, unpeated “Man o’Sword’ and the unpeated ‘Man o’Words’. These two whiskies pay homage to two of Scotland’s most iconic figures, Robert Burns and Robert the Bruce who both had ties to the Annandale region.

They also enlisted the help of whisky royalty, the late Dr Jim Swan, who introduced a twin still concept meaning the ratio of spirit to copper in the final distillation was exponentially increased. This clear innovation creates a smoother, more refined spirit, meaning that even their New Make Spirit at 63.5% ABV has no harshness on the palate.

Annandale Distillery only releases single cask single malt bottlings at cask strength, and predominantly uses Bourbon casks and Sherry butts. Annandale casks are very difficult to get hold of since the distillery is now holding onto all casks from the 2014 to 2015 period. First fill and second fill 200 litre ex-Bourbon barrels form around 80% of their stock, while 15% of their stock is Sherry casks and the remaining 5% is a mix of red wine, Port wood, Cognac, Tequila, and other rare and exotic casks.

Both Annandale’s Peated and Unpeated New Make Spirit were awarded 5 stars+in the Diffords guide and have been awarded numerous medals in the US and UK. Their Man o’Words 2015 vintage was awarded Best Single Cask Malt Whisky 10 Years Or Under in the Jim Murray Whisky Bible 2021.

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