Highlights of Scotland
Prince Charles Edward's Liqueur Drambuie is produced and bottled by The
Drambuie Liqueur Company Ltd., Edinburgh.
Note that there is also a
Drambuie Cream Liqueur.
The front label says:
and the back label reads:
This ancient and delicate Liqueur was prepared in Skye when the Recipe was
first brought to Scotland in 1745.
Around this text is written:
Drambuie forms a link with one of the most romantic episodes in the history
of Great Britain. When Bonnie Prince Charlie came to Scotland in 1745 to
make his gallant but unsuccesful attempt to regain the throne of his
ancestors, he presented the recipe to a MacKinnon of Skye as a reward for
his services. The secret of its preparation has remained with the MacKinnon
family, and the manufacture has been carried on by successive generations to
this day. It is the only traditional liqueur to use a base of 100% aged
Scotch Whiskies, many of which are 15 to 17 year old malts, blended with the
finest herbs and honey. Drambuie comes from the Gaelic: "An Dram Buidheach"
meaning the drink that satisfies.
As for the remark where the name Drambuie comes from,
the entry on Liqueur Whisky in the booklet
Bluff your way in Whisky says:
Cuimhnich an tabhartas orionnsa -- Remember the gift of the prince
The origin of the Drambuie as given above is taken from the label of
the bottle and it is linked with the stories of Bonnie Prince Charlie's
attempts to regain the (Scottish) throne.
Note that 'Drambuie' derives from the Gaelic for 'yellow drink', rather
than 'an dram buidheach' - 'the drink that satisfies'. Scotland is full of
hills called Ben Buie and logs called Loch Buie, and none of them is
supposed to be satisfying.
Michael Shoshani wrote me an email saying that
he has "a guide to whiskey written by Jim Murray, who
has been the Glenfiddich Whisky Writer Of The Year three times, and it
mentions Drambuie, but with no connections to either the MacKinnons or
Bonnie Prince Charlie. His entry on Talisker Whisky [the only malt whisky
produced on Skye] contains the following:"
"I wonder what the real story is," Michael adds, and so do I. It is,
of course, possible that these two texts refer to the same drink: that
the liqueur made at the Broadford Hotel was a form of the Drambuie
given to the MacKinnon of Skye. When Michael checked the story with the
Drambuie makers, he got a very polite denial: they had never heard the
story and it must be mistaken. So the mystery of the origin of
Drambuie remains hidden in the famous mists of Skye ...
It was about this time (1892) that a liqueur made at
Broadford Hotel on the
other side of the island [of Skye]
by the proprietor, John Ross, was beginning to gain in popularity.
On April 24, 1893, Ross applied for and obtained from the Patent Office
in London the trade mark for a liqueur which he called "Drambuie" at the
suggestion of one of his customers (in Gaelic it means "the dram that
satisfies"). In 1965 a relation of Ross recalled in her unpublished
memoirs: "I remember helping to peel the lemons and [Ross] used loaf
sugar -- pure cane sugar and Talisker whisky and saffron."
Quite some time after the above was written here, Ben Geary (a distant
decendant of James Ross) blew away the mists of Skye with this explanation:
The reference to John Ross is true, yet it was his son James Ross that
applied for patent in London. He also was the first to bottle and sell
it, first to friends then later he sold it around the country and
overseas. When he died it was his widow who could not sustain the
business sold the rights to a different MacKinnon family to the original
Captain John MacKinnon's. This side of the true history was originally on
the bottles of the drink, yet the MacKinnon's changed the label to remove
the Ross Family out of the History. Recent cases against the Company by
decendents of the Ross Family have forced the company to remove denial of
Ross' involvement, yet this is not enforced. His decendants on the isle
repeatedly defend the true history of the drink.
The entry on Liqueur Whisky in
Bluff your way in Whisky also refers to MacKinnon, by the way, but
with a "was supposed to have been given" to MacKinnon.
Picture of the bottle:
JPEG-format (5.6 kb)
GIF-format (16.8 kb)
There is also a Drambuie fansite on the web.
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last modified: 9 October 2011