Nestled in a valley near the mountain Ben Rinnes, Aberlour Distillery was initially built in 1826, destroyed by a fire in 1879 and then rebuilt in the same year by James Fleming, a farmer’s son. Its location, with an abundance of timber, pristine waters of the River Spey and resourceful Scotsmen, is part of the same stunning convergence of natural resources that has turned this central Speyside region into a hotbed of whisky brands: Macallan, Glenfiddich, Glenlivet and Ardmore to name a few. This is, truly, the Napa Valley of whisky.
Among those names, Aberlour garners less recognition than most. And yet it’s consistently produced one of the most decorated single malt whiskies, with more than 185 awards since the mid-1980s; theirs was the first single malt whisky to win the Gold Medal at the International Wine and Spirits Competition twice, in 1990. Walking among Aberlour’s grounds, among forests of Spanish ex-Oloroso sherry and ex-American whiskey casks, intent workers, and well-kept stone buildings, it’s easy to see why. Each step of Aberlour’s process is deliberate, from the temperature of their stills to their interactions with malt suppliers. Only the smallest components have been computerized; the human element remains the beating heart of this operation, and it’s as healthy as ever.
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