Aberlour, located right in the village of Aberlour and just a few blocks down from the Walker’s shortbread factory. I didn’t know what all of the fuss was about Walker’s biscuits (cookies), but I had a lemon fruit one and I will be buying as many of those bad boys as I can before I leave Scotland! Aberlour is owned by Chivas Brothers/Pernod Ricard and according to their website and multiple marketing materials, they are the number one single malt in France right now. There were actually a few young French men on the tour, much skinnier than me of course because all French people eat tons of bread and still seem to be skinnier than me, and they said they didn’t feel this was true. Who knows, it was a small sample group I asked I guess. Aberlour was actually Pernod Ricard’s first Scotch whisky distillery purchase. As many of you know now they are a major player and now that they absorbed Chivas, they have 14 wholly owned Scottish Distilleries now.
James Fleming was the founder of the distillery and was a grain merchant first. He was selling to other distilleries when he realized there was a lot of money to be had in whisky making and decided to start up his own. During his time he has been very active in the Aberlour community and many buildings are dedicated to him in the town. His favorite quote apparently was “let the deed show”, meaning actions speak louder than words. I like this slogan. He didn’t have any children to pass the business down to and ended up selling the distillery. As of today they produce around 3.8 Million liters of new make spirit per year and use the Ben Rinnes as their water source.
Their mashtun is stainless steel and they run three waters through the grist. Once it goes into the washback’s at about 18 degrees Celsius they then ferment the wort for about 48 hours. This is probably the shortest time period I have heard yet. They only have six washbacks and I literally wrote in my notebook “all were ugly, stainless steel”. Surprisingly for having only a few washbacks, they had two spirit and two wash stills. As of this year they are running 17 mashes per week and it is keeping men staffed for 7 days a week, 24 hours per day. At the time I was visiting they were having a few repairs done to the mill, so nothing was really going on. I guess we could call this a “forced” silent season. In regards to casks, they primarily work with Oloroso sherry from Spain and Jim Beam from the states. As of right now they don’t do or use any sort of finishing casks.
I would like to also mention that my tour guide was quite cool and suave and continually said that when it comes to whisky it is “different strokes for different folks”. I quite like this and find it slightly humorous when someone says it out loud! I was able to try over five bottlings. I will share a few of them below. There was a combination of Non-Age Statements, sherry finishes and bourbon cask finished. They used to have a 10 year old, but it didn’t take off due to pricing too close to their popular 12.
A’Bunadh- Non Age Statement.
Holly’s Tasting Note..
Nose: Fruit cakes, berries, fudge, dark chocolate.
Palate: Dried craisins, raisins, mud and milk chocolate. A thick ending to it. Can really taste the sherry finish in this one.
A’Bunadh means “original” in Gaelic. Apparently old, original bottles of Aberlour whisky were found in the walls of a warehouse and the distillery managers loved it. They wanted to create it again and in the same fashion. Meaning no age statements, so a bit of a younger whisky and in batches. This is one of the “batch” made whiskies. Meaning that the variation between each bottling is justified and consistency is not as important as it is expected to have different results for different “batches”. This is becoming popular with some distilleries/companies because then there is an expectation already set here of what consistency should be. This is probably one of the best Non-Age Statements I have had on my trip. It apparently is selling really well too.
16 Year Aberlour
Holly’s Tasting Note..
Nose: Plum, honey and peanuts.
Palate: Sweet nectar, peach with a warm finish on this one.
This was a delicious dram.
Next up is Ballindalloch Single Estate Distillery..