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Issue 146 - A state of purification

Whisky Magazine Issue 146
September 2017


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A state of purification

We discover a vital part of Aberlour Distillery's process

Scotch whisky is known as the water of life. Deep in the heart of Speyside, finding the purest, clear Scottish spring water has always been a key part of making whisky at Aberlour Distillery. When James Fleming built the distillery in 1879, he chose a location beside the Lour Burn for two reasons. Firstly, the Linn Falls, further up the burn, provided a plentiful supply of water for the distillery's needs. Secondly, the watercourse provided a source of renewable energy to turn the waterwheel that powered much of the distillery equipment. These days, the course of the Lour Burn still flows through the pretty distillery before it gushes into the River Spey. The waterwheel at the distillery may now have been retired, but you can still spy the mill lade through the window during the distillery tour as you move from the mill room to the tun room. It gurgles with a diverted stream from the Lour that the distillery uses for cooling purposes. The production water for making whisky here is drawn further upstream from the Birkenbush springs above the Linn Falls. Large volumes of water are needed for a distillery this size – for example, they add 48,000 litres to the grist as the first water when mashing in. Each charge of the wash still takes 12,000L of wash, and they run the wash stills twice to generate the charge for the spirit still. It may not be the number one topic to discuss over a warming dram of Aberlour A'bunadh, but all Scotch whisky distilleries produce copper-contai...

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