Places to Visit in Scotland
- The Drambuie Trail
Take the Drambuie Trail...
....and follow in the footsteps of Bonnie Prince Charlie:
"Speed bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward the sailors cry,
Carry the lad that's born to be king,
Over the sea to Skye."
The North-west of Scotland is rich in its own individual Scottish history, legends, myth and magic - none more so than the romantic tale of Bonnie Prince Charlie, the rebel with a cause. Leading the Jacobite Army to battle in his fight to secure the British crown, he finally and tragically became "the bird on the wing" as immortalised in that song. Flora Macdonald was the heroic young lady who rowed him safely to Skye and members of the MacKinnon clan too were part of the story in protecting the Prince.
His gift in gratitude of their support was a precious recipe for a honey-sweet drink which has been passed down through several generations of the MacKinnon family and today is enjoyed by millions across the world. This is the famous Drambuie, a golden liqueur based on the finest Scotch malt whisky, sweetened with a hint of heather honey and flavoured with herbs. It takes its name from the Gaelic phrase An Dram Buidheach - the drink that satisfies.
Now, to celebrate the liqueur's legendary links with the Jacobite Rebellion, the incentive travel and tour company, Experience Scotland, has created the Drambuie Trail, a fascinating cultural tour of Scotland which retraces Bonnie Prince Charlie's journey of 250 years ago when the exiled Prince, aged just 23, returned to Scotland to claim his birthright as King of Scotland and England.
Tailor made for individuals and small groups, this four day (flexible duration) itinerary will appeal to all who are interested in Scottish history, clan ancestry, castles, battlefields and Royal palaces, as well as those who appreciate the wild Highland landscape, fine food and whisky. Take the high road north through mountain glen and over the sea to Skye, along sea and lochshore to Inverness, and finally south again over the Forth Bridge to Edinburgh, this magical tour will captivate the imagination and inspire the senses.
To whet the appetite and to give a little more background to the Drambuie Trail, here is the story of the Prince and the creation of Drambuie in a nutshell, as related by travel writer Vivien Devlin.
The Jacobite Uprising
When George I, a Protestant, was proclaimed King of Great Britain in 1715, thousands of opponents across the nation supported the true succession of the Scottish Stuart dynasty under King James, a Catholic, who had been ousted and sent into exile. News of his baby son, Prince Charles Edward, born in Rome in 1720 brought renewed hope and strength to their cause; as a young boy he must have quickly appreciated the importance of his role in claiming his family's right to the throne.
In July 1745, aged just 25 years old, Prince Charles arrived in Scotland on the island of Eriskay where he soon gathered together his personal troupe of companions - The Seven Men of Moidart - and together they set off to row across to the mainland, up Loch Shiel to land at Glenfinnan where he raised his Standard. The monument to commemmorate that event is pictured above. The Jacobite Rebellion had begun. Supporters included the clan Chieftain Iain Dubh MacKinnon who marched from Skye to offer his sword to the Prince, with several hundred clan members. The army made swift progress to Edinburgh where Charles held court at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, his charm as host at glittering parties inspiring further support. Travelling south towards England and reached as far as Derby with King George's army under the Duke of Cumberland advancing towards them but reinforcements from England, Wales and France failed to join the Jacobites and they were forced to retreat.
Defeat at Culloden
Back in Scotland it was now the heart of the winter with atrocious conditions as they prepared for the battle of Falkirk, which left over 50 Highlanders dead. The Jacobite Army was then divided into two regiments, one led by Captain John MacKinnon as they travelled north. The aim was to ensure loyalty for the Stuart crown throughout Scotland before attempting to conquer England. Meanwhile the government troops were raising their own support in opposition and by April 1746 the two armies gathered near Inverness preparing for battle on Drummossie Moor, Culloden. In the preceding days Prince Charles, his Lieutenant-General, Lord George Murray and army staff were guests of Duncan Forbes at his home, Culloden House as they began to plan their attack.
But Bonnie Prince Charlie's dream of heroic victory was soon to be shattered. Everything was against him - The Duke of Cumberland's professional army was twice the strength of the Jacobites - Highland clansmen, English and Irish volunteers and French mercenaries - who were exhausted and hungry, having been on the march for six months and given few provisions. Murray was well aware of the problem "The men had only got that day a biscuit each, and some not that" but despite little sleep and food they were forced to march through the night. The Battle of Culloden resulted in a fierce and bloodthirsty attack on the sadly diminished Jacobite Army and a decisive victory to Cumberland.
A Gift from a Fugitive
The prince escaped and a ransom of £30,000 (£15 million in today's money) was offered for his capture. He quickly headed to the west coast, to Loch Morar then sailed over to the Western Isles of Benbecula, Lewis and South Uist. As a fugitive, it was important to keep travelling as well as finding trustworthy people to assist and offer him a safe house. Flora Macdonald was selected to protect the prince, a duty which would bring her "honour and immortality". It was decided that Charles, disguised as a servant girl Betty Burke would be taken aboard Flora's boat for a rough crossing from South Uist to the Isle of Skye. The journey went according to plan and on Skye he was met by Captain Malcolm Macleod who led Charles to Elgol and the home of his sister who was married to Captain John MacKinnon, the clan who had long shown staunch allegiance to the Jacobite cause. He then rowed the Prince across the Sound of Sleat to Mallaig for the next stage in his journey to find sanctuary. McKinnon's role in royal protection was now over but not without receiving heartfelt gratitude from the Prince. As a man on the run, who had lost all possessions, he had nothing to offer Mackinnon as a farewell gift except the precious recipe for his personal "eau de vie" liqueur, which he carried with him as a medicinal tincture.
Thereafter Bonnie Prince Charlie, knowing his fight for the crown was over, took the decision to flee to France never to return to Scotland. He died aged 67 in Rome the city of his birth, by then a disillusioned, sick and sad man.
The secret recipe was preserved by generations of the MacKinnon family, before finally creating at the turn of the 20th century, what would become a world famous liqueur.
Fact or Fiction?
Pick up a bottle of Drambuie today and you'll see the distinctive banner, "Remember the gift of the Prince - Prince Charles Edward's Liqueur." A heartwarming and heroic tale indeed - but should it be dismissed as mere romantic legend? Historic evidence implies otherwise.
- There is accurate proof of the popularity of liqueurs as a digestif, an after-dinner drink based on spirits flavoured with herbs, spices and sugar across Europe, especially the Royal courts. Prince Charles brought up in Italy and France would have developed a taste for such sweetened and flavoured liqueurs as a young man.
- Many witnesses in Scotland saw the Prince take a small bottle from which he would take a few drops during the day. This was his personal eau de vie mixture, an alcoholic, herbal drink. Prince Charles's medicine cabinet from Culloden is now preserved at the Royal College of Physicians. This contains a collection of small bottles, essences, tinctures together with recipes and measuring scales.
- Dr. Samuel Johnson and James Boswell visited Skye during their tour of Scotland in 1773 and visited Lachlan MacKinnon, who was more than generous with his hospitality. Boswell wrote in his journals of `their kind host and hostess and a very good dinner` they enjoyed. " While the punch went round the table, Dr. Johnson kept conference with Mrs. MacKinnon, the subject of which was the particulars of Prince Charles escape. The company were entertained. "
- More conclusive proof to the story comes a century on when in the 1870s, John Ross, the owner of the Broadford Inn on Skye persuaded the MacKinnons to make up large quantities of their family liqueur and sell it to his customers. By this time it was a well-known local drink, produced for family use. Twenty years later in 1893 John Ross's son, James, recognising the popularity and unique quality of the Isle of Skye liqueur, was far-sighted enough to patent the name Drambuie as a trademark name.
Today's Drambuie Trail
Designed for the discerning traveller, transport and accommodation throughout is of superior comfort and quality with country house hotels selected particularly for their historic interest and architectural style as well as superb cuisine and gracious hospitality. Depending on the size of the group, travel is by luxury people-carrier or mini-bus with an official driver/guide, ensuring personal attention on this comprehensive yet small-scale, exclusive tour of Scotland.
If you've been inspired by Bonnie Prince Charlie's adventures, then join this specially created tour which includes these highlights.
- Stirling Castle - the Stuart Royal Family's favourite residence.
- Glenfinnan Monument - where the Prince raised his standard.
- Eilean Donan Castle - probably the most romantic (and most photographed - see picture above) castle in Scotland; family home of the MacCrae family
- Culloden battlefield - walk around the barren moorland with original 1745 cottage.
- Culloden Visitor Centre - documentary film and exhibition on the Jacobite rebellion.
- Dalwhinnie Distillery -the highest distillery in Scotland.
- Blair Castle - home to the Duke of Atholl, with its magnificent collection of furniture, paintings, porcelain and armoury.
Where You Will Stay
- Kinloch Lodge, Isle of Skye. Ancestral home of Lord and Lady Macdonald where you will experience log fires, delicious cuisine from home made bread to local seafood, and lovely views up the Sound of Sleat. Kinloch Lodge is illustrated here.
- Culloden House, near Inverness - where Prince Charles stayed before the battle and now a fine country house hotel. Beautifully furnished with ornate ceilings, fireplaces and chandeliers. Comfortable and relaxing.
- Prestonfield House, Edinburgh. Magnificent 17th century white washed mansion set in pretty parkland. Luxurious accommodation, French antiques, art and exotic furnishings in rich purple and red velvet.
End the journey with a tour of Edinburgh, visiting the Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse with its collection of Mary Queen of Scots and Jacobite memorabilia. If time allows, a ten minute drive from here is the Sheep Heid Inn at Duddingston Village, where Charles lived for a time and the Inn was his local pub. Here you'll enjoy good Scottish home cooking and a lively atmosphere welcoming locals and visitors. Just the place to drink a toast to the Bonnie Prince.
For more information on the Drambuie Trail see their Web site at www.experiencescotland.co.uk/.
Return to Index of Places to Visit
Where else would you like to go in Scotland?
News & Views>
All Features Index>
Search This Site>
Scottish Pictorial Calendar>
Places to Visit>