Whisky Magazine Issue 58
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Ghosts are a common feature in whisky distilleries. Robin Laing goes in search of some of the most famous onces
Scotland is a land of story tellers; maybe it's the whisky.
Certainly in the Highlands (the spiritual home of Uisge Beatha) folk would gather together to share a dram and make music, sing songs and tell tales.
Perhaps because of our blend of strict religion and primitive beliefs, many of the stories are about supernatural subjects. The folklore of Scotland is alive with witches, devils, fairies and ghosts. There is a definite interface between other-world spirits and distilled spirits; the devil features regularly in whisky mythology and there is a small army of distillery ghosts.
The ghosts that inhabit distilleries are naturally shy and elusive. There is a tantalising assertion in Misako Udo's book The Scottish Whisky Distilleries that Aberlour distillery “is haunted by a lady and a dog.” Fascinated, I sought more information, but Misako could not remember where she read about it. I asked various people at Aberlour, including Alan Winchester, and if there is anything to know about Aberlour, Alan knows it. But he knew nothing about the lady and dog phantoms. So here is a spectral snippet waiting either for deeper research or for someone to make up a story to fit.
Mind you, Aberlour does have a ‘Fairy Knowe' at the back of the distillery. This signpost to another realm is even marked on the Ordnance Survey map.
The name Aberlour itself, means ‘mouth of the chattering burn' and this suggests a pre- Christian belief in talking spirits. Alan Winchester who, as far...