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Issue 99 - First and Last

Whisky Magazine Issue 99
October 2011

 

This article is 3 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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First and Last

Neil Wilson visits a vision in the making.

Almost always it remains an unfulfilled dream. A couple of whisky lovers happen upon a defunct distillery over 180 years old, they covet it and manage to buy it, then they set about the really hard part, bringing it all back to life and achieving that lifelong ambition.

For David Thomson, a former cereal chemist, and his wife Teresa Church, both co-owners of the multinational MMR market research company, that ambition is now being fulfilled on the outskirts of Annan in Dumfriesshire. They met while he was studying for a doctorate in consumer psychology at Bristol University in the late 1970s and they went on to create MMR which now has sensory science centres in China, USA and the UK. Employing almost 150 people, MMR has an annual turnover of over $35m and has afforded them the means to underwrite the costs of rebuilding the picturesque Annandale Distillery, established in 1830, at Northfield. In doing so Annandale will become the first distillery visitors crossing the border from England encounter, and the last as they return south.

I first visited Annandale in 1987 when I was preparing a broadcast for BBC Radio Solway which followed in Alfred Barnard's footsteps as he toured through the region taking in Langholm, Glen Tarras, Annandale and Bladnoch distilleries. Back then I was shown round by one of the Robinson family who owned the farm and distillery and I was surprised by the generally good state of preservation of the place.

Today, looking at the amount of work now b...

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