Aberfeldy is a picturesque single malt distillery that sits nestled in the Southern Highlands. It is one of the most visited distilleries in Scotland due to its proximity to both Glasgow and Edinburgh. This is despite Aberfeldy not being within the Top 20 best selling single malts globally. However its importance to Dewar's, one of the Top 5 best selling Scotch brands in the world, is the key. Dewar's is particularly popular in America and the distillery is home to the Dewar's World of Whisky. Aberfeldy has been a major ingredient for the blend ever since it was built, but has recently been gaining a name for itself with a delicious range of single malts.
Aberfeldy is known for its sweet, rich and cereal-led style. Robust malty notes mingle with honey, honeycomb and toffee. These are accentuated by further fruit notes of cooked apple and poached pear to give extra depth, softness and complexity to the single malt.
The main cask type for maturation is American oak ex-bourbon, although some ex-Oloroso sherry barrels are also used.
The core range is small but highly regarded. Most whisky produced at Aberfeldy is still used within the Dewar's blended Scotch ranges. The most popular and widely available expression is Aberfeldy 12 years old. This is joined by further bottlings at 16 and 21 years of age. Also available are the more limited Exceptional Cask Series and French Red Wine Cask Collection.
Aberfeldy is a decent sized distillery with an annual production capacity of 3.4 million litres. There is a 7.5 tonne mash tun, which operates 23 mashes per week. There are eight wooden washbacks made of Siberian larch and two more made of stainless steel. The fermentation time is 72 hours. There are four copper pot stills and these work in pairs (2x wash stills and 2x spirit stills). Water for production and cooling is taken from the Pitilie Burn, which runs alongside the distillery and flows into the River Tay shortly afterwards.
Aberfeldy was founded in the year 1896 by John Dewar & Sons in the Highland village of the same name. It was built to help the company expand and to supply single malt for their increasingly popular Dewar's White Label blend. The location was chosen for its close proximity to the company's Perth headquarters. The Dewar's brand was first launched out of John Dewar's grocery and wine store in Perth in 1846.
The distillery was designed by renowned architect Charles Doig. He was responsible for numerous new distilleries in the Highlands and Speyside in the late Victorian era. He is best known for designing the recognisable pagoda shape that sits atop the kiln at those distilleries. This is known as a Doig Ventilator. Production finally began in 1898.
Aberfeldy was closed during both the First and Second World Wars due to barley shortages and rationing. In the meantime, John Dewar & Sons had been amalgamated into the larger Distillers Company Ltd (DCL) in 1925. The distillery remains under the ownership of John Dewar & Sons today, albeit the company is now a part of the larger Bacardi group. Bacardi purchased Dewar's and its group of single malt distilleries - Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Craigellachie, Macduff and Royal Brackla - from Diageo in 1998.
Visit and tasting tours are available at the distillery.