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The legend of King Robert the Bruce is an enduring one. The famous warrior king who led the Scots to victory over the English at Bannockburn in 1314 - and was recently immortalised in Netflix blockbuster Outlaw King, starring Chris Pine - was also 7th Earl of Annandale, and the inspiration for Man O’Sword, our distinctive, smoky expression.
Annandale Distillery lies just one mile north of the site where the seat of the De Brus family – a typical 12th Century motte and bailley castle - stood on the banks of the River Annan. Earthworks are still visible from Bruce Street and Moat Road. And it's a short drive to Dumfries where Greyfriars Church stands. It was near this site, at the high altar of the church of The Greyfriars, that Bruce delivered the fatal stab wound to the Red Comyn, his cousin and contender for the throne of Scotland.
Visit Scotland describes Annandale as ‘a ‘strath’ – the Old Scots word for ‘valley’, which separates the Moffat and Lowther hills’.
You’ll find Annandale, together with many more fascinating Outlaw King movie locations on Visit Scotland’s map here >
When conceiving of our distinctively smoky peated single malt Scotch whisky, we looked to the history and provenance of the area, and the strong and true warrior king really captured our imagination.
In a display of the resilience he would become famous for, it was just over seven years before the symbolic conclusion of the first Scottish War of Independence at Bannockburn, that King Robert the Bruce of Scotland and roughly 600 men prepared to go to battle with an English force nearly five times its size - and prevailed - at Loudoun Hill.
' if at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again'
You've heard the expression 'If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again' - legend has it that these are the words he used to inspire his men, having all but given up hope of an independent Scotland.
It's widely believed that he retreated to a cave following defeat, and while there watched a spider try - and fail - to make its web across the cave's entrance. He watched as the spider tried again and again to reach the far wall, failing each time, and reflected that if, on the next try, the spider failed again, he would accept that failure in his own quest was inevitable. But should the spider succeed, he would once again take up arms against the English. The location of the cave is unconfirmed, but the cliffside cave above the River Kirtle in nearby Kirkpatrick Fleming has as good a claim as any!
It’s those same inspirational words that greet drinkers from the inside of our inaugural release gift box. Visitors to the Distillery may also notice the spiders hidden among our wrought iron gates.