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"Stop. Isn't it time for a Drambuie on ice?"
~ Drambuie slogan, 1960s
Stop! And thank you, Clan MacKinnon! If not for you, according to legend, we would not have this honeyed Scotch whisky liqueur, with its secret (and perhaps royal) blend of herbs and spices! Supposedly, after his terrible defeat at the battle of Culloden, Bonnie Prince Charlie received sanctuary from John MacKinnon on the Isle of Skye. 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 more at the recipe ingredients. 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"! 80 Proof! Slàinte! 🥃 👑
For Liqueur Day, October 16th, we celebrate the famous Scottish liqueur, Drambuie, one of several tartans developed for this special beverage.
Drambuie is a sweet, golden coloured liqueur made from scotch whisky, honey, herbs and spices.
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 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.
For more on the folklore of the secret recipe, click the famous label.