You think you know Drambuie, do ye? Nay, nay, weary traveler, ye don’t. Sure, you may like to whet your whistle with a Rusty Nail or Drambuie and Ginger, but there is so much to this luxurious Highlands staple that few people are aware of. Here’s a quick history of how over two and a half centuries of Drambuie got its start.
It’s the year 1745. Bonnie Prince Charlie is making a run at reclaiming the British crown, which he believes had rightfully belonged to his father. At first, Charlie’s personal game of thrones goes well, as he and his men advance as close as 120 miles from London. Eventually, though, they are pushed back, and the Bonnie Prince is forced to flee to Scotland (sorry, Charlie), where he takes to the hills of the Highlands.
It is here, amongst the Highland clans, that Charlie finds true friendship, particularly with John MacKinnon of the clan MacKinnon. Charlie is so grateful to MacKinnon for taking him in that he shares his most precious secret: the recipe for an elixir, created by his personal royal apothecary. It is created using only the finest ingredients—saffron, nutmeg, cloves, and others—and is even believed to have medicinal properties.
The beloved elixir takes off. In 1870, John Ross starts using it at the Broadford Hotel, where it is often referred to as “an dram buidheach”—“the drink that satisfies.” The drink is so beloved, in fact, and the recipe so coveted, that, in 1893, it is patented by James Ross. He calls it “Drambuie.”
To this day, the recipe for Drambuie is as closely guarded a secret as any in Scotland. So, the next time you’re enjoying a Rusty Nail or a Drambuie and Ginger Ale, just know that you’re enjoying the same delicious elixir that Scottish royalty so desired two and half centuries ago.
For more on the brand’s legend, be sure to click here.