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George Donald was an exciseman, formerly of Elgin, posted to Annan in 1830. He established Annandale Distillery and ran it with his son until his death in the 1880s.
Visitors to Annandale Distillery today may be lucky enough to enjoy a tour with Andrew Donald, a descendant of the Donald family and a knowledgeable tour guide!
It's a commonly held misconception that the 'Lowlands Style' is light in character. Barnard's book 'The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom' reveals that Annandale and nearby Bladnoch both used peat to dry their barley.
"The malt is raised by elevators to the Kiln at the end of the Maltings, which is floored with wire cloth and heated with peat."
We can't know with any certainty how the now infamous John Walker & Sons used and operated Annandale Distillery, but we have a number of theories - the main one being that Annandale would have been a conveniently located source of smoky whisky. In an era when such whiskies tended to come into the mainland from Islay on steam-powered 'puffer' boats, operating a mainland site with good rail links to Kilmarnock made good commercial sense.
Johnnie Walker's tenure was short however. Production ceased during WWI, likely a result of lack of manpower and raw materials during the war years. The distillery was sold to the Robinson farming family in 1924.