Whisky from the heart of Burns Country

9th January 2018 Kirkoswald Kirkyard

We’re surrounded by Burns’ heritage here at A. D. Rattray in Kirkoswald. Aged 16, our National Bard spent the summer of 1775 in the village, studying measurement in the local school. Over the road from us lies the cottage of John Davidson, more famously known as Souter Johnnie, and immortalized in the poem Tam o’ Shanter about his neighbour, Douglas Graham. A little further along is the atmospheric Kirkyard, the final resting place for the main characters of one of Burns most famous works. 

On a clear day, from the Ayrshire coast we look out over the Firth of Clyde to Arran, as Burns would have done so many times in his day (despite never visiting the island). Back then, the island harboured countless illicit stills. Much of the whisky made on Arran was smuggled across the firth to Dunure and Culzean, and ultimately ended up in Kirkoswald. Burns himself referred to Kirkoswald as “a great smuggling coast”, where he witnessed “scenes of swaggering riot” and learned to “mix without fear in a drunken squabble”.

Nowadays, Arran is currently home to just one (legal!) distillery, The Isle of Arran distillery at Lochranza, with work recently starting on a second at Lagg on the south of the island.

We began working with Arran distillery in 2011 when we filled a number of our casks with their new make spirit. We bottled two of these in our Cask Collection during 2016, while the other casks continued to mature. In 2017 we began exploring cask finishing, taking one of our Arran casks and splitting it between different types of wood, creating a unique range of finishes from that one original cask.

The results are in and we're almost ready to share them with you... watch this space!


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