The Annandale Distillery produces both peated and unpeated single malt Scotch whisky – the Man O'Sword releases are the peaty ones, while the Man O'Words releases are unpeated. This one right here is a smoky treat, distilled back in 2014 and aged in a bourbon cask until it was eventually bottled up at cask strength. Glorious stuff, with plenty of malty notes complemented by the smoky, savoury elements. ~ Master of Malt
We were curious to learn why there were so few whiskey distilleries in the South of Scotland right away. At the time (2006–2007), Bladnoch Distillery (located close to Newton Stewart, Wigtownshire), had been shuttered for about 90 years and was in the extremely sad process of going out of business. The only operating whiskey distilleries in the South of Scotland were William Grant's massive grain distillery at Girvan and Diageo's Glenkinchie Distillery to the east of Edinburgh (although neither of these are truly southern in a strictly geographic sense). In the past, the Scottish Borders had been home to two more distilleries, Glen Tarras and Langholm, but both had stopped operating in the early 1900s. When looking for an answer, it becomes clear right away that South West Scotland's environment would have been too wet to support the cultivation of the barley varieties used 100 to 150 years ago. But if not, there would have been plenty of water, peat, and coal, and the wet and warm weather would have been perfect for whiskey maturation. Additionally, Southern Scotland had a developed rail system by the 1890s, which should have made moving finished whiskey out and imported barley into the region quite simple. (Any difficulties faced by South of Scotland distillers must have been insignificant in comparison to those experienced by Islay distillers.) This forced us to the unavoidable conclusion that Southern Scotland could and should create first-rate Single Malt Scotch whiskey, and that there isn't and probably never has been a fundamental reason why it couldn't or shouldn't. There was definitely something to prove!