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Fascinating Facts about Allt a Bhainne

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Fascinating Facts about Allt a Bhainne

Postby Iain » Wed Jan 17, 2007 7:21 pm

Do you have a fascinating fact you would like to share about this allegedly boring distillery?!
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Postby vitara7 » Wed Jan 17, 2007 7:39 pm

hm this'll be a long post ;)
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Postby Paul A Jellis » Wed Jan 17, 2007 9:07 pm

Built in 1975 of local granite-harled walls and blue slated roofs.

There are the four small pagoda roofs framed against the background of the granite hillside of Ben Rinnes.

It is a hi-tech distillery, and the whole process is conducted by just one person.

Allt a Bhainne means "Burn of milk" in Gaelic

Tasting Notes:
Nose: Orange glazed gingerbread. Acacia honey, light iodine and cloves.
Body: Sweet, prunes, peppery, chocolate, fudge, rubbery.
Finish: Soft sweetness, wild strawberry jam. Comforting.

Absolutely fascinating!
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Postby Bullie » Wed Jan 17, 2007 9:30 pm

First of all: The distillery has got a beautiful name. And that's always a good start.

And the distillery building in itself makes it interesting. Why build it like that, and not as a 'traditional' distillery? Makes you think... And what about those strange version of pagodas? ;) I kind of like the look of it... And the interior looks quite nice as well, with the wooden panels.

It was mothballed in 2003 and re-opened in 2005. The whisky is sought after in the blending industry. That is also a fascinating fact. Why does a distillery like Allt A Bhainne survive and florish, when a distillery like Brora is closed (even though it would be possible to open Brora again)? Makes you think as well...

And the process can be managed by one (1!!) person alone. And still it produces app. 4.5 million liters of spirit each year.

Another thing that makes it interesting is just the fact that it is hard to get. There aren't that much different bottlings of this whisky out there.

I'm sure that there are 'fun' stories about this distillery as well. It has been open for more than 30 years, so the employees must have experienced stuff of legends at this distillery as well as at any other...

I'll come back with more later. :)
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Postby vitara7 » Wed Jan 17, 2007 10:15 pm

the thing i dont like about it is it has no storage on site apart from tanks to store the whisky in. i mean, its not matured on site, no casks anywhere. its more like a factory as a whisky distillery.
in the same way royal braclka has went down in my veiw since they put int he new scada system and they dont use there warehouses. one or two of the warehouses at brackla are used, but not for their stuff, they rent them out to diagio for £1 a year for diagio's own stuff that they move from where ever.
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Postby dram_time » Wed Jan 17, 2007 11:03 pm

Bullie wrote: Why does a distillery like Allt A Bhainne survive and florish, when a distillery like Brora is closed (even though it would be possible to open Brora again)


I thought that the stills from Brora all went to China??

Dt.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Jan 18, 2007 8:36 am

Brora (which was known as Clynelish during its lifetime) didn't close; it modernized and moved next door.

As for why Allt-A-Bhainne flourishes, you've answered your own question: one person can run it. It is cheap and anonymous blend fodder.

There may be uglier distilleries, but I can't think of any with architecture more deserving of disdain. It's '70's bastard shopping center crap, with a fake mansard wraparound roof with real slate, bizarre and an utter waste. Imperial's industrial dreariness is at least honest. I'll post a photo soon.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Jan 18, 2007 11:16 am

So in summary:

    Allt a'Bhainne distills whisky

    It is located in a building

    Its name would be pretty, if only anyone would learn how to pronounce it properly.

Have I got this right?
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Postby Drrich1965 » Thu Jan 18, 2007 11:58 am

Why it survives and others die most likely is due to efficecy. The old Brora and Port Ellen was expnesive to produce due to inefficencies and repair issues; a newer distillery would not have such prolbems
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Postby Paul A Jellis » Thu Jan 18, 2007 12:39 pm

Allt-A-Bhainne survives because it was built for a purpose, to supply malt for Chivas Regal and 100 Pipers blends, a job which it still does very well.

Recently new owners Pernod Ricard decided to make Chivas Regal the number one premium blend in their whisky portfolio.
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Postby The Fachan » Thu Jan 18, 2007 12:41 pm

Nick,


Not 100% sure of the spelling but its close to Allt A'vanya.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Jan 18, 2007 3:42 pm

Yeah, I always think of Uncle Vanya. Worth noting that the workers and locals pronounce it alt a bane. I will take a bit of Nick's umbrage and continue to attempt reasonably proper Gaelic pronunciation.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Jan 18, 2007 4:31 pm

I'll know we've hit home when people start to get Dailuaine right:

dal OO ahn ya
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Postby Iain » Thu Jan 18, 2007 5:02 pm

"The whisky is sought after in the blending industry. That is also a fascinating fact"

Bullie, I think I have to ask for that fact to be discounted on the ground that it's not really fascinating (imho of course!).

It would be a fascinating fact about a working distillery if said distillery produces spirit that is NOT sought after by the blenders :wink:
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Jan 18, 2007 6:19 pm

Nick Brown wrote:I'll know we've hit home when people start to get Dailuaine right:

dal OO ahn ya


Yikes! I'm not sure I can wrap my head around that. A check here:

http://www.dcs.ed.ac.uk/home/jhb/whisky/pronounc.html

confirms. I'm going to have to spend the weekend saying that out loud to get it firmly ingrained.

Albissiainne! 8)
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Postby vitara7 » Thu Jan 18, 2007 6:54 pm

yeh when you also speak to locals of these distilleries or workers at them, they often say it diffrent as well.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Jan 18, 2007 8:25 pm

I am a bit torn about this sort of thing--Mr Picky observes two contradictory rules. One is that words clearly in a language other than English ought to be pronounced according to the rules of that language, when possible. (He even pronounces "lingerie" as a Frenchman would, when in fact he has the nerve to pronounce it at all.) The other is that local usage is inherently correct. It's really rather complicated. Nick has noted, for example, that the pronunciation of Bruichladdich (and such things as using "BL" as a logo) is inconsistent with its Gaelic origin. But this is a placename that has been corrupted over the years, so that it can hardly be considered proper Gaelic any more. Allt-a-Bhainne, on the other hand, seems to me to be intended to be a proper Gaelic phrase. Suffice it to say that distillery workers are not necessarily the best authorities on Gaelic pronunciation, but people who live in a place cannot easily be contradicted on the pronunciation of the name of that place. I wonder if the locals living adjacent to the Burn of Milk (so named, I understand, because the milkmaids used it to wash out their milking cans) actually use the Gaelic name for it, and how they pronounce it.
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Postby Iain » Thu Jan 18, 2007 9:11 pm

There is a good reason for the locals mispronouncing the name - it's because it only turned up on their doorsteps in the 1970s!

Stewart MacBain, who was director of Northern Operations for Chivas back then, told me (after he retired) that the company struggled to come up with a good name for the distillery ("Glenrinnes" sounds too much like Benrinnes, etc). Then he heard some chat about "the Milk Burn". But "Milk Burn" didn't sound suitable either, so he spoke to a Gaelic speaker in Paisley (!), asked him to translate "Milk Burn" into Gaelic, and - hey presto - Allt a Bhainne was born!

I think this is possibly the only fascinating fact I've ever heard about Allt a Bhainne - that the name was invented by a non-Gaelic speaker because he couldn't think of anything interesting to call it in English! :D
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Postby adogranonthepitch » Thu Jan 18, 2007 9:33 pm

I have read a few books about whisky which mentioned this Alto-Beno distillery.. is that interesting?
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Jan 18, 2007 11:35 pm

Well, there you go--thanks, Iain. "Milkburn" would sound too much like "Millburn", as well.
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Postby Iain » Fri Jan 19, 2007 9:49 am

"I have read a few books about whisky which mentioned this Alto-Beno distillery.. is that interesting?"

Well, ADROTP, I'm sure folks will be interested to learn that you've been reading whisky books. :)

But imho that that would be an interesting fact about you, rather than a fascinating fact about Allt a Bhainne. :wink:
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Postby Bullie » Fri Jan 26, 2007 6:37 pm

Allt a Bhainne was the first distillery to experiment in various ways to cool the wash, in order to better control the fermentation. Among other trials, one was made by letting cool water trickle down on the outside of the washbacks.

This was abandoned, even though they succeeded to keep a steady temperature. The reason was that this procedure created yeast...

Another fact is that they started mashing and fermenting before the distillery were completed.

The distillery manager who started the operations was Rob MacPherson.
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Postby vitara7 » Fri Jan 26, 2007 11:07 pm

i can hardly keep up with all the facts coming in thick and fast about this distillery, why didnt anyone tell me before how interesting it is.....
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Postby Iain » Sat Jan 27, 2007 9:33 pm

Good stuff Bullie, but I have to query that last sentence -

"The distillery manager who started the operations was Rob MacPherson."

It's certainly a fact about Allt a Bhainne, but is it fascinating? :wink:

ps: I believe Bob was subsequently a manager at Longmorn and Glen Grant and no doubt worked at a lot more places too. Last I heard he was working at the visitor centre at Strathisla, but that was a few years back. He's a great story-teller!
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Postby Bullie » Sun Jan 28, 2007 11:29 am

Iain wrote:Good stuff Bullie, but I have to query that last sentence -

"The distillery manager who started the operations was Rob MacPherson."

It's certainly a fact about Allt a Bhainne, but is it fascinating? :wink:

ps: I believe Bob was subsequently a manager at Longmorn and Glen Grant and no doubt worked at a lot more places too. Last I heard he was working at the visitor centre at Strathisla, but that was a few years back. He's a great story-teller!


Well, the last fact about Rob isn't perhaps the most facinating, but thinking of how little there is written about AaB distillery, most facts are in a way interesting. Rob was at the same time distillerymanager for three other distilleries, among them Braeval. He is now taking care of visitors at Balvenie and Glenfiddich. He told me more stuff about AaB as well.... :)
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