Drambuie is a whisky liqueur. A blend of aged Scotch whisky, spices, herbs and heather honey. Its origins can be traced to a secret recipe created for Bonnie Prince Charlie by his Royal Apothecary in the 18th Century. The name Drambuie is derived from Scots Gaelic 'An Dram Buidheach' and means "The Drink that Satisfies."
The story of Drambuie began in 1745 when it arrived on British shores under the guardianship of its original custodian, Prince Charles Edward Stuart (known as Bonnie Prince Charlie). It was the Prince’s personal draft, and he drank a few drops each day for strength and vitality. The Prince had travelled from Rome to raise an army in the hopes of restoring his exiled family, The House of Stuart to the throne of Great Britain. His unfortunate enterprise ended with defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746.
Pursued by the King’s men he fled to The Isle of Skye. After a period of exile on the island his pursuers caught up with him and his fate lay with the Clan MacKinnon who bravely helped the Prince escape the British Isles for good. In thanks for his unwavering loyalty the Prince gave John MacKinnon, the clan leader, the secret recipe to his personal liqueur, a gift that the Clan were to treasure down the generations.
A hundred or so years after the Battle of Culloden a man called John Ross, the hotelier of the Broadford Hotel on Skye, persuaded the MacKinnon’s to let him make up a batch of their family liqueur. It seemed to have been appreciated amongst the Skye locals and a story is told of two of the regulars to the inn sampling the liqueur and declaring it to be a dram buidheach - 'the drink that satisfies.'
John’s son, James Ross, registered a patent for the name Drambuie in 1893. Later his widow Gina moved with the recipe to Edinburgh where in 1909 she worked with Malcolm MacKinnon, a whisky wholesaler, and started producing Drambuie in Edinburgh. Malcolm and Gina created the Drambuie Liquor Company Ltd in 1914 and so begin ambitious plans for export. Drambuie survives through the World Wars and Prohibition in the United States.
100 years later in 2014 The Drambuie recipe is passed on from one family owned company to another as William Grant & Sons acquire the brand. Since the handover the recipe has been kept in a safe at our blending facility near Glasgow. Only three people know the recipe, one of who personally mixes each batch of Drambuie essence and is the fifth generation of our founder William Grant.
First prepared by 13th century Italian monks as herbal medicines and elixirs, Liqueurs are distilled spirits that have been combined with flavoring agents. A range of herbs, spices, nuts, fruits and flowers can be used, and a sweetener such as sugar or corn syrup is often added. While typically rather sweet, some examples are herbaceous or tart and pair exceptionally well with desserts or act as a delightful addition to cocktails.