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Annandale Distillery re-started production on the evening of Sunday, November 2nd, 2014, after a hiatus of 96 years and a 3½ year (and ‘8 figure’) refurbishment and refit programme. It’s almost impossible to describe the intense feeling of elation we experienced when our antique Porteous Mill (1963 ex Caperdonich Distillery) rumbled back into life, grinding 2½ tonnes of unpeated barley into grist. The very next day, we mashed and fermented for the first time.
One week later, during the morning of Sunday, November 9th, Prof. David Thomson (Co-Founder of Annandale Distillery) and whisky legend, Dr Jim Swan, tasted the first few drops of spirit to be produced at Annandale for 96 years. This was Man O’Words; our fruity, unpeated spirit. Jim Swan’s verdict…… “Gorgeous!”…… thanks in no small part to his innovative twin-spirit stills concept. We filled our very first barrel (Cask 2014/001) on Saturday, November 15th 2014……and threw a bit of a party to celebrate.
During the following two weeks, we produced our very first batch of Man O’Sword; our peated spirit (45 ppm phenolics). Scottish Rugby icon, Doddie Weir, filled the first cask (2014/040) on Monday, December 1st, 2014.
By December 31st, 2014 we’d produced just 188 casks of spirit (103 Man O’Words and 85 Man O’Sword), making our Vintage 2014 extremely rare. Of these 188 casks, approximately 40% were filled into once used (‘fresh’) ex-bourbon casks and 60% into several-times-filled whisky barrels (‘refills’). ‘Fresh’ casks bring whisky to sensory maturity more quickly than ‘refills’. Whereas it’s likely that several of the ‘refills’ could be matured for up to 20 years and more, some of the ‘fresh’ casks had reached a superb level of sensory maturity at just 3 years old, thanks in no small part to our twin spirit stills.
A small number of our Man O’Words and Man O’Sword Rare Vintage 2014 casks were bottled at just over 3 years of age, capturing that never-to-be-repeated moment in time when the first of Annandale’s spirit transitioned into Single Malt Scotch Whisky……and superb it is too (see Jim Murray’s 2019 Whisky Bible)!