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Whisky Whispers

Coldstream: A small town with a big history

By now R&B readers will be familiar with our heritage steeped in the Scottish Borders town of Coldstream. If Richard Day hadn’t walked into J&A Davidson in 1895 and taken a job as an office boy, and therefore gone on to master the art of whisky blending in the Tweeddale region, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Coldstream sits on the River Tweed but not just anywhere along this iconic river’s banks. Coldstream took root at the lowest point where the river can be crossed. Why is this important? It means that during historical conflicts the town often stood between Scottish and English armies looking to cross the border.

It was here that the Coldstream Guards were raised by General Monk in 1660. Recently, in June, we celebrated the commemoration of the Battle of Waterloo at Peniel Haugh in the Scottish Borders. According to the Duke of Wellington, the Coldstream Guards played a crucial role in this battle. Wellington later named Coldstream Guard Sergeant Graham the ‘bravest man in the Army’. He was assisted by his brother, four Coldstream Officers and four members of the Third Guards in ‘closing the Gate’ at Hougoumont farm – a crucial action said to have been the turning point in the battle.

The River Tweed at Coldstream, Scottish Border

It turns out that R&B have more in common with Coldstream than we first realised. This picturesque town was the place to head to for runaway marriages in the 18th and 19th centuries, rivaling popular Gretna in Dumfries and Galloway. With our matchmaking background in Bill Dobbie, founder of online dating site Cupid, we feel right at home with this idea.

Now home to a population of little more than 1700 people, Coldstream has a rich history, including not only whisky but beer as J&A Davidson also handed on their Coldstream Brewery Co. Ltd. business. We found one of their bottles – still holding beer – on a visit to Coldstream Museum.

Coldstream Brewery Co. Ltd. Bottle at Coldstream Museum

 

Whether it’s Coldstream, or one of the other Scottish Borders towns, vote in our The Big Question campaign for the home of our future Borders whisky distillery.

*Thanks to Visit Scotland and Best of the Borders for acting as sourcing of information for this post.

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