According to lore, Drambuie is fit for a King. In fact, it was allegedly invented by a Prince of Scotland who would have been King of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland if his insurrection has succeeded. We are speaking of Prince Charles Stuart, whose lineage included many of the Kings of Scotland and a few in England after the two countries united under James Stuart in 1603. In 1745, Charles sailed to Scotland and with the aid of the Scottish Highlanders, a fierce bunch of men, began their quest to retake Scotland for a “Scottish King”. During this period, there was much strife in England and Scotland. In Scotland, it was the Highlanders versus the Lowlanders, who had benefited the most from the merger of England and Scotland. The Highlanders wanted to be left alone with their Scotch and were no fans of the heavy taxes levied on their fine beverage.
The end of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s story and the beginning of the Drambuie lore begin at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. After many an early victory, Prince Charlie’s troops were confronted with a large army composed of the English and the Lowlanders. The Highlanders lost the day and may were slaughtered fighting for the Prince. A Scottish lass, Flora MacDonald hid the Prince as her Irish maid and rowed him from the Highlands to the Isle of Skye where he was given sanctuary by the Clan MacKinnon. Allegedly, as a thank you for the hospitality, the Prince gave his hosts the recipe for his prized recipe. I love this story! But, it is true – we have no idea. I have been around long enough to have heard a few of these stories at this point.
What we do know is that Drambuie next showed up almost 130 years later at the Broadford Hotel on Skye where John Ross had perfected its recipe and began serving it to hotel patrons. From there, it switched hand again and eventually the production moved to Edinburgh, where it started its journey around the world. Recently, the Drambuie bottle was redesigned to pay homage to Bonnie Prince Charlie and his followers, who are called “Jacobites”. It has sword slashed on the neck in homage to those fallen on the Bonnie Prince’s behalf. Regardless of what you think of the story, it’s pretty tasty. Here is our tasting note:
Appearance; Clear, bright, medium minus copper color with tawny hues.
Nose: aromas of scotch and honey, essentially, raisins, dried figs, dried apricot, heather, vanilla, sweet baking spices and honey.
Palate: Sweet, medium plus acid, medium plus body, alcohol fortified to high, pronounced intensity of dried figs, dried apricot, sultanas, treacle, heather, vanilla, nutmeg, cardamon, cloves and honey. Long finish.
Rating: Outstanding. Beautiful scotch notes augmented by honey. It reminds me of that great taste you get in a really great Ben and Jerry or Milk Punch but without the dairy. Drink neat or on the rocks. Also, try as a honey substitute.