The Aberlour Distillery
Aberlour was the brainchild of James Fleming, wholesaler, distiller and philanthropist. He built the most perfect, modern distillery of its time in 1879 at an ideal location. Aberlour Distillery is situated in Speyside in the Highlands, the home of malt Scotch whisky and numerous distilleries. It was built at the confluence of the two important rivers of the region, the rivers Lour and Spey. The incredibly beautiful surroundings of the distillery are dominated by the rugged peaks of Ben Rinnes which is just a short distance away.
Pure spring water for making the whisky is drawn from the St Drostan’s Well, which is a spring in the river Lour. Thus the distillery has the perennial advantage and benefit of this priceless source of pure spring water. The sparkling clear spring water that cascades down the slopes of Ben Rinnes and descends through the Lour valley to the distillery, is the most precious commodity of Aberlour malt whisky.
Unfortunately in 1898, as was common in those days, a devastating fire destroyed several of the buildings and most of the stock of whisky. The Aberlour Distillery was largely rebuilt after that. Over the decades, modernization and new technology altered the layout of the distillery though many of the original features are still there. However, the traditional methods and working and dedication of the team remain unchanged.
The Aberlour Distillery has a workforce of fewer than fifteen people which is how it has always been. Aberlour Single Malt is testimony to the efforts of the brewer, still-man and blender at the distillery. At Aberlour the whisky is matured for at least ten years before the spirit is judged ready for bottling. It is matured in oak casks that have previously been used for bourbon or sherry.
It is essentially the chief blender’s responsibility to choose the right mix of used bourbon and sherry casks in which to mature the various whiskies. The casks make a crucial contribution to the color and flavor of the spirit. When the whisky is ready for bottling he selects a mixture of casks that will maintain the award-winning quality of Aberlour.
The distillery warehouse is sheltered from strong winds and hot sun. However the porous casks reap the benefit of the moist and fragrant Highland air. A tiny amount of alcohol evaporates and escapes into the air. This is known as the ‘angel’s share’.
Some Aberlour Single Malts, particularly the 10 Year Old and 12 Year Old, are double-cask matured. This means that the whisky is matured separately in specially selected bourbon and sherry casks for the duration needed for it to come of age. At this stage, whisky from the two casks is brought together and the different flavors blended together. This unique method of parallel maturation gives Aberlour its distinctive taste and color.