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Storyman: an award-winning whisky with a tale to tell

© Supplied by Annandale DistilleryJames Cosmo Storyman whisky
Developed with iconic actor James Cosmo, Storyman whisky is making quite a name for itself.

How James Cosmo’s Storyman whisky tells his personal tale, and a lot more too.

They say every picture tells a story. However, every whisky tells a story too, and Storyman whisky has an interesting tale to tell.

Born from a collaboration between Annandale Distillery and iconic Scottish actor James Cosmo, the award-winning premium blended scotch whisky has made quite a name for itself since its launch last year.

With an acting career that includes the likes of Game of Thrones, Braveheart and Troy, proud Scot James Cosmo MBE is instantly recognisable. It was while filming Netflix’s Outlaw King, which tells the story of Robert the Bruce, that James discovered Annandale Distillery, located in the heart of the Bruce lands in Dumfries and Galloway.

When distillery owner, Professor David Thomson, offered whisky lover James the opportunity to create his own blend, it was met with a resounding yes, and the Storyman journey began.

James Cosmo at Annandale Distillery for Storyman Whisky © Supplied by Annandale Distillery
Keith Law, James Cosmo and Professor David Thomson tasting a dram at Annandale Distillery.

Finding the perfect blend

James and David turned to master whisky blender, Keith Law, to help make Storyman a reality.

We spoke to Keith to discover how he was able to create a whisky that not only resonates with James and his story, but tells a few stories of its own too.

He said: “James is such a lovely guy, he’s full of stories. When we were discussing the concept, the name Storyman summed him up perfectly. When you talk to him, there are so many layers and so much depth to him as a person.

“I kept thinking, if we’re making a whisky for this guy, I want to do what’s right by him and create a good one!

“His ask was for a whisky to be sipped and savoured with friends by the fire while stories are shared. That was my starting point.”

Annandale Distillery stills © Supplied by Annandale Distillery
Annandale Distillery re-opened in 2014 after full renovation and refurbishment.

James and David were involved at each stage of tasting, helping Keith tweak and refine the flavour profile. Keith explained: “Talking to James really helped guide me, the contemplative storytelling notion was the main inspiration for me.

“I was working with the idea that Storyman was not just the story of James, but of Annandale Distillery and the different types of whisky that they had in their stocks too.”

Discovering stories in a cask

So, how do you discover the story of a whisky? Keith explained: “When we were tasting I’d create three or four variants of a style and they’d each tell a different story.

“Whisky blenders say, ‘that cask talks about the wood’ or ‘that spirit talks about the distillery character’. On your nose and palate there is a story within that cask.

“For example, if it’s ‘woody’ that’s a story of the type of oak cask it was matured in. Or, if it’s ‘fresh fruity’ or ‘smoky’ it’s a story about the unique distillery character which is created from a combination of the raw materials, fermentation and distillation process.”

Having previously worked with Annandale to assess their whisky stocks, Keith’s in-depth knowledge of Annandale Distillery’s casks gave him plenty of scope to find the perfect combination to create James’ vision.

James Cosmo Storyman Whisky © Supplied by Annandale Distillery
Storyman not only found favour with James, the award-winning whisky is proving popular the public too.

“As a blender you’re looking for the colours to paint the picture,” said Keith. “Some of the wood casks that Annandale have are very active, so they’ve got a lot of wood flavour, whereas some of the casks have matured the whisky more gently.”

“That’s the one, that’s Storyman whisky”

After many iterations, the whisky was continually refined until at one tasting James declared with certainty: “That’s the one, that’s Storyman.”

When he tasted it, James felt the resonance with his story and what he had set out achieve; a spirit that whether drinking it with friends or enjoying a wee dram by yourself after a long day, it would suit the occasion.

Since its launch Storyman has found great favour with the public too. It recently took the gold medal in the prestigious Scotch Heroes category at the People’s Choice Spirits Awards.

For Keith, whisky is all about stories. He is proud at his involvement in the Storyman journey however, he is quick to share the acclaim. Keith said: “As a blender I’m working with other people’s hard work. If the coopers didn’t make good casks and if the distillers didn’t make good spirit, I’ve got nothing to work with. I need those guys to make good quality things.

“I doff my cap to the guys at Annandale, I had great whisky to work with!”

Storyman is available to buy online from Annandale Distillery and selected retailers.

Hear his stories from the man himself at ‘An Evening with James Cosmo’ taking place at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Friday 3 May 2024. Join James as he shares insights into his craft, the challenges of the industry, and the moments that have defined his illustrious career.