Aberfeldy Distillery in the Grampians
Aberfeldy Distillery is well-known as the location of Dewar’s World of Whisky, an innovative center that takes visitors on an interactive journey about Dewar’s Whisky and its making. Nestling in the heart of the Grampian Mountains, Aberfeldy is one of the precious few distilleries from the South of the Highlands. The distillery was built on the Aberfeldy Perth railway line.
Aberfeldy Distillery was built in 1898 by John and Tommy Dewar on the site of the old Pitlie distillery. They were the sons of Thomas Dewar, the first Scottish blender, and this distillery was set up to produce the malt needed for the production of the Dewar blends. The distillery has been functioning continuously since then, except for a short period during World War II. The water for production comes from the Pitilie Burn.
There have been several changes in the distillery since its inception but the high quality of spirit produced remains unchanged. The still house and tun-room of the distillery were completely rebuilt in 1973 using the original stonework. Aberfeldy no longer makes its own malt; instead medium peated malt is supplied by specialist malters, Glenesk Maltings from Montrose.
The trademark pagoda shaped roof of the kiln, however, is still visible at this continuous assembly line unit. The old malting floor is now contains a production unit used for make a pot ale syrup known as ‘Dark Grains’. This is high protein cattle feed made from the lees of the first distillation of the distilling process. The distillery also treats its own effluents and converts the residue into fertilizer for local crops.
The washroom has eight wooden wash backs made from Siberian larch and two state of the art steel wash backs. There are two spirit and two wash stills that are unique to Aberfeldy. These four copper onion shaped pot stills are made to exact dimensions and their shape and size influence the flavor of the spirit. The spirit is stored in the distillery warehouse in a variety of casks that have previously held sherry or bourbon that add to the flavor.
Dewars became a part of DCL in 1925 and joined United Distillers in the 1980s. Almost all of the production of Aberfeldy now goes into United Distiller’s blends, most notably Dewar’s White Label. The distillery does however have two single malts noted for their flavor of heather and honey. One is a refreshing lighthearted 12 years old and the other is the mellower 21 year old single malt. It fills out from a light peaty aroma to a fruity flavor. The red squirrel on the label is a tribute to the beautiful woodlands surrounding the distillery that is home to a colony of a rare breed of red squirrels.