History in a glass

May I clarify your reports on the Drambuie sale (23 May)?

The donor of the recipe (originally brandy-based) was a French officer supporting Prince Charlie, not the prince himself, who probably gave it to Captain Lachlan Mackinnon.

His descendant, Alexander Mackinnon, passed it to his close friend John Ross, my great-great-grandfather, whose wife Margaret leased the Broadford Inn.

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James Ross, their son, then experimented with it using whisky, herbs, spices and honeys, until he felt he had made the perfect liqueur, which one of his friends (Samuel Campbell, John Macleod or Charles Maclean) pronounced as An Dram Buidheach, the “drink that satisfies”.James coined the phrase “A link with the ’45” and trademarked Drambuie under registration number 172,253 at the London Patent Office on 24 April, 1893.

As Jane Bradley says, the MacKinnon owners (with a capital “K”) since 1914 were not descendants of the 1746 Mackinnons but marketed it brilliantly based on that fortuitous surname coincidence – “Pretenders” themselves, one might say! 

Finally, the current non-family management took over in 2005, not three years ago, and have been instrumental in acknowledging James Ross’s crucial and previously ignored role.

John Birkett

Horseleys Park

St Andrews