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Issue 50 - Grossly misunderstood (Aberfeldy)

Whisky Magazine Issue 50
September 2005

 

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Grossly misunderstood (Aberfeldy)

Ian Buxton goes among old friends and visits Aberfeldy

They say confession is good for the soul: so here goes... I know the folk at Dewar's pretty well. From time to time I do consulting work for them, and (back in the last millennium) I was heavily involved in the design and construction of their visitor centre at Aberfeldy. So naturally, I think it's pretty good and I rate their whisky highly.

If you think that rules me out from writing this article, then stop right now! But there's a lot happening with Dewar's, especially at the pretty distillery, that merits reading on. So, if you're still here, let's begin on safe ground: with some historical events that I wasn't involved in.

Building the Aberfeldy distillery was either an act of great courage by John and Tommy Dewar or one of foolhardy daring.

In the late 1890s, when they started building, Scotch whisky was going through a massive boom. Sales were growing rapidly as newly-perfected blended whiskies spread across the British Empire. New distilleries were being constructed all across Scotland.

No-one had ever seen anything like this before. The demand seemed endless.

As a blending firm founded in 1846, Dewar's had never owned its own distillery.

True, it had rented a small farm distillery at nearby Tullymet (now demolished) but in the late Victorian whisky boom, as it watched its rivals expand and grow, building its own smart new operation seemed the logical step.

But the mood of optimism was soon to end.

Pattisons, an Edinburgh firm of blenders and distillers, expand...

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