Aberlour is one of the most popular Scotch single malt brands in the world. The whisky consistently appears in the Top 10 list for worldwide sales. The biggest market for Aberlour is France, where it has held the number one single malt spot for years.
The award-winning and picturesque distillery is located in the town of the same, which sits on the banks of the fast-flowing River Spey. The famous Speyside region is a relatively small geographic area in the Scottish Highlands, but is home to over 50 of Scotland's 120 distilleries.
Aberlour distills a fruity and robust Speyside style of single malt. The robust style is particularly suited to maturation in sherry casks and this is what Aberlour is best known for. The ex-sherry casks give the single malt a rich and sweet set of aromas and flavours, along with delicate baking spices such as oak and cinnamon.
The annual capacity of Aberlour is four million litres per year.
There is a large mash tun and this feeds six stainless steel washbacks. This is where the fermentation takes place and produces a wash that is around 8% ABV. This is distilled twice, first through one of the two wash stills and then through one of the two spirit stills. The stills are large and with a wide copper pot. This shape, coupled with a long distillation time, gives Aberlour spirit its robust and fruity character.
A major expansion is planned and this will double the production capacity when completed. This will help Aberlour to meet consumer demand as its popularity continues to grow in the future.
Aberlour was founded in 1879 by local businessman James Fleming. He was a renowned figure in Aberlour and was highly influential in developing the town. His investment brought electricity to Aberlour in the late Victorian period and saw him finance the local hospital, school and town hall. Both carry his name to this day. Fleming also built the Penny Brig, a footbridge over the River Spey. He is buried in the graveyard opposite the distillery.
A fire devastated the distillery in 1896. The well known Scottish distillery architect Charles Doig was commissioned to design the replacement. Much of his work from this late Victorian period can still be seen across Speyside. Aberlour has seen numerous changes in ownership during its history. Pernod Ricard purchased it in the 1970s and they remain owners under their Scotch whisky subsidiary of Chivas Brothers. It was they that began the concerted effort to grow Aberlour as a single malt brand, and to the level it is today.
Aberlour has an ever widening core range of single malts. There are age statements at 12, 14, 16 and 18 years old. These are released under Double Cask Matured label and all feature a combination of ex-bourbon American oak and ex-sherry casks that are married together. These are joined by the non age statement Casg Annamh and A'bunadh. Casg Annamh translates as 'rare cask' from Gaelic. The A'bunadh, which translates as 'origin' from Gaelic was launched in 2001. It is matured exclusively in ex-Oloroso sherry casks and released in small batches at cask strength. It has become a cult classic single malt.