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Issue 13 - Natural born distillers (Aberlour)

Whisky Magazine Issue 13
December 2000


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Natural born distillers (Aberlour)

Dave Broom visits Aberlour Distillery, built in a magical location that's home to some of the most knowledgable whisky folk in the world.

Aberlour Distillery's colourful history began in 1826 when it was built by the laird of Aberlour. He was the very man who gave John Smith, Glenlivet's founder, the pair of pistols used to great effect when repelling disgruntled smugglers. The distillery then passed through a number of hands, as distillers took advantage of the newly relaxed laws, before the Grant brothers leased it while waiting for the baronial pile of Glen Grant to be built in Rothes. They then passed the lease on to James Fleming, a grain merchant who had the lease on Dailuiane and had a mill in Aberlour. Fleming moved his operations to Aberlour, demolished the original plant and in 1879 built a new distillery on its current site. These days it is owned by Pernod-Ricard, who bought it (as part of Campbell Distillers) in 1974.

There you have it. Another Speyside distillery that sprang into being in the 1820s, blossomed with the coming of the railway,
benefited from producing the style that blenders wanted and which is now making waves on the single malt market. End of story. That is until you meet manager Alan Winchester.

For him, Aberlour was possibly entering its old age by the time it became legal in the 1820s. He sees it as tapping into the ancient history of the Highlands, back to a half forgotten, semi-mythic Celtic past. “When you look at the history of whisky you realise it was the Celtic monks who knew the secret of how to make it,” he says. “Now, if you accept that it all started in Isl...

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