James Allardice


You are probably wondering how it all began, so let us start at the beginning on a chilly winter’s night in 1826…

Hidden in the valley of Forgue, deep within the Scottish Highlands, a plume of smoke ascends from the chimney of a grand country house, Glen House. The smell of peat from a large crackling fire fills the drawing room, and there sits James Allardice, feet up, with a dram of a whisky that he had spent quite some time making. He was feeling quite cheery with the results of his new creation, which he had decided to call… GlenDronach. His next challenge was to sell his stock, so there he sat, pondering on what would be his best plan. James was up with the birds the following morning and set out with a spring in his step for the capital, with a large barrel and flagon in tow. But on arrival in Edinburgh, he discovered that selling GlenDronach was going to be trickier than he first thought. “We already have our stock for the season,” the landlords all said, “but we’ll bear you in mind for next year.”

Ladies of the Night

After only selling a trickle, a disheartened Allardice wanders back to his hotel, ready to admit defeat. But, walking up the Canongate, he is accosted by two young ladies of the night who want him to take them…for a drink. James tells the women that he has his very own ‘Guid GlenDronach’ whisky that they can sup on, and so he returns to his hotel room, to the mortification of the hotel staff, with the two ladies on each arm! The following day, word of mouth spread like wildfire about the previous night’s shenanigans and the two women return for another bottle of GlenDronach to share with their friends. James had pretty much given up on his abortive sales drive in Edinburgh and had planned to return home, so he gave the women the remainder of his flagon.

The ‘Guid GlenDronach’

Later that afternoon, the street was full of women who had consumed one drop too many. This got the neighbourhood talking and everyone became curious to try some of what the ladies were drinking. So they started requesting GlenDronach by name when they went into their local pubs. As the story goes, James did not return home as planned the following day. Instead, he stayed a while in Edinburgh where he sold all of his stock. Not long after, bottles could be found in every pub along the Royal Mile. GlenDronach had arrived!  

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