"Stop. Isn't it time for a Drambuie on ice?"
~ Drambuie slogan
This golden Scotch whisky liqueur, with its secret blend of herbs and spices has a colourful backstory. Legend has it that Bonnie Prince Charlie received sanctuary from John MacKinnon on the Isle of Skye following the battle of Culloden in 1746. In gratitude (or battle shock), the prince passed a royal recipe to his host. MacKinnon may have coined the drink's name, from the Gaelic phrase “An Dram Buidheach,” meaning “the drink that satisfies" though its literal meaning "yellow hills" hints at the recipe. Though many people have tried to duplicate the secret recipe, using clues from various sources, aside from a few probables – scotch, heather honey, herbs, saffron – the recipe remains secret and safe. Many do-it-yourself-recipes include cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, angelica, fennel, or rosemary in an attempt to try to duplicate the special taste. Well known cocktails using Drambuie include the Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Rusty Nail, and Scotch Coffee! Slàinte! 🥃
For Liqueur Day, October 16th, we celebrate the famous Scottish liqueur, Drambuie, one of several tartans developed for this special beverage.
Based on the McKinnon tartan, the family which held the original secret recipe, the Drambuie tartan colours reflect the corporate and labeling colours (and perhaps some of the secret ingredients).
According to family legend, after the Battle of Culloden in 1746, Prince Charles Edward Stuart fled to the isle of Skye where he was given sanctuary by Captain John MacKinnon of Clan MacKinnon. After staying with the captain, the prince rewarded him with this prized drink recipe. This version of events is disputed by historians who believe it to be a story concocted to boost sales of the drink.
The MacKinnon family concocted variations of this ancient recipe - which became known locally on Skye as "dram buidhe", the yellow drink, or "an Dram Buidheach", meaning the drink that satisfies.
The legend holds that the recipe was then given in the late 19th century to James Ross by Clan MacKinnon. Ross ran the Broadford Hotel on Skye, where he developed and improved the recipe, initially for his friends and then later for patrons in the 1870s. The name was registered as a trademark in 1893.
Though many people have tried to duplicate the secret recipe, using hints from various sources, aside from a few probables – scotch, heather honey, herbs, saffron – the recipe remains safe. Many do-it-yourself-recipes include cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, angelica, fennel, or rosemary to try to duplicate the special taste.
For more on the folklore of the secret recipe, click the famous label.