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Donald Peated Portfolio
George Donald, an excise man hailing from the Scottish Highlands, began planning Annandale Distillery in 1830. The site he chose was perfect; a wooded hollow, beside a burn (stream), close to the banks of the River Annan. In past times, it may have been an illicit distillery! The late Dr Jim Swan (the ‘Einstein of Whisky’) thought this the ‘most perfect place to mature whisky’.
By 1836, George’s farm distillery was producing peaty/smoky Scotch whisky, using barley grown on the home farm, peat for the malt kiln dug from the nearby Creca Moss and, at the end of the process, the spent grains (malt draff) fed to his pigs and cattle.
The Donald Family operated Annandale from 1836 until 1883. However, George and his wife Margaret Corson didn’t just produce a lot of whisky, they also produced a lot of children (13 in total). Consequently, they have many descendants and we’ve met quite a few of them. Some of George’s proud descendants recently purchased a cask of Annandale, and one descendant actually works at the Distillery!
Although Annandale was closed from 1918 until 2014, it is one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland that’s still operational. It’s a very special place, steeped in Scotland’s tumultuous history. Our award-winning peated whisky is also very special. We thought it right and proper to name our peated portfolio The Donald Peated Portfolio, to honour George Donald and Family, founders of Annandale Distillery.
In 2008 David Thomson and Teresa Church, the new owners of Annandale Distillery, commissioned the late Dr Jim Swan (sometimes known as the ‘Einstein of Whisky’) to design a whisky-making plant for their distillery. Extensive sensory research conducted by MMR Research Worldwide had identified a style of slightly sweeter, very fruity and peaty/smoky Single Malt, that seemed to be rather unique. Using his vast experience, his finely tuned nose and his extensive stock of Single Malts, Jim created sample of what he thought this whisky should taste like. We loved it! Of much greater importance so did MMR’s whisky consumers. At the same time, Jim also produced an unpeated version in a similar style, and so our award-winning Man O’ Sword (peated) and Man O’ Words (unpeated) Single Malts were born.
The next challenge was to build a modern plant to produce peated and unpeated Single Malts that would match the sensory profiles of Jim’s samples. It also had to fit inside Annandale Distillery’s historic buildings. Quite a challenge but we did it! There are three ‘secrets’ to producing Annandale’s particular style of early-maturing Single Malt; it’s all down to the way we operate the Mash Tun, the combination of yeasts we use to create our fruity character and our twin copper spirit stills.
In his 2020 Whisky Bible, Jim Murray awarded us the accolade of ‘Best Single Cask, Single Malt – 10 years and under’ for our 2015 Man O’ Sword (peated) Single Malt. In 2021, he awarded the same accolade to our 2015 Man O’ Words (unpeated) Single Malt. Both of these ‘world beaters’ were bottled at under 4 years of age.