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In 2009, Drambuie launched The Royal Legacy of 1745, an upscale malt whisky liqueur. The 40% alcohol by volume spirit won the Drinks International Travel Retail Award for Best Travel Retail Drinks Launch at the TFWA, Cannes, France in October 2009.
After the Battle of Culloden in 1746, Prince Charles Edward Stuart fled to the island of Skye. There, he was given sanctuary by Captain John MacKinnon of Clan MacKinnon. According to family legend, 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 by Clan MacKinnon to James Ross. Ross ran the Broadford Hotel on Skye, where he developed and improved the recipe, initially for his friends and then later to patrons in the 1870s. Ross then sold it further afield, eventually to France and the United States. The name was registered as a trademark in 1893.
Ross died young, and to pay for their children's education, his widow was obliged to sell the recipe, by coincidence to a different MacKinnon family, in the early 20th century. The latter MacKinnon family has been producing the drink since.
The first commercial distribution of Drambuie, in Edinburgh, was in 1910. Only twelve cases were originally sold. In 1916, Drambuie became the first liqueur to be allowed in the cellars of the House of Lords, and Drambuie began to ship world-wide to stationed British soldiers. In the 1980s, the producers of Drambuie began to advertise the liqueur. More recently work has been done to strengthen the reputation of the brand after a downturn in popularity and sales.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Drambuie being bottled in Edinburgh, the makers launched a new style of bottle and embarked on a television and print advertising campaign in 2010. The new bottle is clear which allows the fluid to be seen. It has a new interlocking ‘DD’ Drambuie icon behind the brand name and this also appears on the neck.