Walking up to Annandale is like looking at the Ikea of whisky distilleries. The sandstone is fresh and untainted, the doors a bright blue and each pane of glass etched with a signature ‘A’. Although this place first opened back in the 1830s, the First World War put paid to Johnnie Walker’s alcoholic ventures here, and the building fell into dusty dereliction. Then in 2008, a very rich man and a £150,000 grant began to resurrect these alcoholic ashes from the grave. Annandale was reborn.
The story of Annandale is arguably as interesting as its whisky. Here, the spirit is matured in Bourbon casks from Kentucky, taking on that distinctive amber colour after being processed through shiny new copper stills to achieve a fruity flavour.
Inside the store, casks are lined against the walls. ‘2014’ is painted on the bottom, an indication of the youth of this restored distillery. None of the contents are ready. There will be two whiskies available after their three year maturation: the Man O’Words (named after local Rabbie Burns) and the Man O’Swords (a homage to Robert the Bruce). Whilst we wait for the spirit to develop, Annandale are offering their young whisky — a clear sharp spirit named ‘Rascally Liquor’ — to buy.
Although there’s no Scotch whisky quite yet, Annandale is already open to visitors for guided tours. In the future, they’re also planning to launch a whisky academy. So, while we wait for the next chapter in Annandale’s already concentrated history, we’ll grab a cuppa and a cake in the coffee shop to satisfy our stomachs.
Keep up to date with developments by visiting Annandale’s website and blog.