Allt-a-Bhainne

Allt-á-Bhainne (pronounced alt-a-vain) is a single malt distillery in the Speyside region of Scotland. The primary function of the distillery is to provide spirit for blended Scotch whiskies. It is a key component of leading brands such as Ballantine's, Chivas Regal and 100 Pipers.

The name translates as 'burn of milk' from Gaelic and refers to a hazy stream close to the distillery. Only recently was the first-ever distillery bottling released and Allt-á-Bhainne whiskies remain rare. They are mainly available through independent bottlers.      

Alt-a-Bhainne distillery with dark roofs and beige walls with its name sign lying on the grass in the front
Alt-a-Bhainne distillery

style

Allt-á-Bhainne is a light, zesty, floral and fresh spirit with an estery background characteristic. Notes of green fruit (especially apple and pear), honey, butterscotch and orange are commonly detected. In recent years lightly peated spirits have also been produced. This amounts to approximately a third of total output each year.

Peated spirit production is rare on Speyside and Allt-á-Bhainne has a specification of 15-20ppm (phenol parts per million, with phenol being the compound released by peat when burned). Both styles are predominantly matured in bourbon whiskey casks.    

Collection of various flower heads
red apple with green pear and one pear sliced open
Honey running down honeycomb
Pieces of toffee

production

All the equipment at Allt-á-Bhainne is housed in one room. It was one of the first distilleries to be designed for single person operation when created in the 1970s. There is a nine-tonne mash tun and they operate 25 mashes per week. This feeds eight stainless steel washbacks. The fermentation time is short at 48 hours. There are two pairs of copper pot stills and these produce 4.5 million litres annually. Water for production is taken from a series of natural springs located on Ben Rinnes.    


history

Allt-á-Bhainne was founded by Seagrams in 1975 and operated under their Scotch whisky wing of Chivas Brothers. It is located at the southern foot of the Ben Rinnes mountain, close to the Speyside town of Dufftown and hamlet of Glenrinnes.

Seagrams was taken over by Diageo and Pernod Ricard in 2001. The two companies strategically divided Seagrams' Scotch whisky distilleries between them. All of the Chivas Brothers distilleries, including Allt-á-Bhainne, went to Pernod Ricard. The company remains as its owner today.

Allt-á-Bhainne was mothballed in 2022 - the process where a distillery is closed for production, but all equipment remains ready to go when needed. It remained closed until 2005 when distillation restarted.

The inaugural distillery bottling of Allt-á-Bhainne was released in 2018. This was no age statement and created using the lightly peated single malt. The only other official bottling is the 15 years old Cask Strength, which forms part of Chivas Brothers' Distillery Reserve Collection. This is available at all Chivas visitor centres. Otherwise, availability is via independent bottlers with decent stocks at Hunter Laing, Signatory Vintage and That Boutique-y Whisky Co.