Thursday, November 23, 2017

Around The Whisk(e)y World In 7 Days - Thursday

Distillery: Aultmore
Location: Keith, Scotland
By: Chris Joseph

The Rarest of Speyside: Aultmore

In the heart of Speyside, along the Old Buckie Road that runs from Keith (home of Strathisla) to the fishing ports along the Moray Firth, you'll find the peat infused waters of the Foggie Moss Burn and Aultmore distillery. Founded in 1896, by whisky pioneer Alexander Edward, who also owned Benrinnes and built Craigellachie, Aultmore is an unfamiliar name to many scotch drinkers. Yet, the whiskies produced along the Foggie Moss have been unknowingly sampled by many readers of this blog. It's a well kept secret that Aultmore is one of the main components in Dewar's blends, including the top selling White Label.

Back to the late 1800s. Just two shorts years after construction began, Aultmore whisky had become so popular throughout northern Scotland that extensive improvements were announced by Edwards. Alterations included additional malt barns, a mash tun room and two duty free warehouses. By July, 1898, Aultmore’s capacity had doubled to 100,000 gallons a year. In addition, an Abernethy steam engine of 10 horsepower was installed to supplement the original source of power, a water-wheel driven by a lade from the distillery dam. All machinery in the plant was interconnected to allow it to be powered by either the steam engine or the water-wheel. After the water-wheel fell into disuse the steam engine worked the barley and malt conveying plant, the malt dresser and mill, the mashing machine, along with the wash still and various pumps. This piece of engineering brilliance continued to give service for almost three quarters of a century and is preserved inside the entrance of the distillery today.

Sadly for Alexander Edward, the whisky boom of the late 19th century was short lived. Due to barley shortages brought on by WWI, Aultmore was forced to close its doors for several years. In 1923 the distillery was purchased by John Dewar & Sons, which was not surprising as Edward and Tommy Dewar were good friends. Dewar's immediately began using Aultmore in its blends and demand exploded. Over time, so highly prized was Aultmore as a blending malt, it was said that when Bacardi was in the process of buying Dewar’s from Diageo, it was willing to walk away from the deal if the distillery wasn’t included.

These days, based on the uninspiring appearance of the distillery, it is easy to dismiss Aultmore as little more than a functional factory. Fortunately for us, the character of the Foggie Moss single malts can now be easily sampled. A variety of independent releases are available and Dewar's themselves have brought out several age statement expressions that are fairly priced and exceed the quality of the more glamorous, heavily marketed brands. Grab yourself a dram or bottle of the Old Buckie Road and find out what the blenders have been keeping secret for decades.

Did you know?  Aultmore’s founder, Alexander Edward, also owned Benrinnes distillery (inherited from his father), founded Craigellachie distillery and was one of the primary investors in both Dallas Dhu and Benromach.  If all that wasn’t enough, for a time he managed Oban distillery.

To learn more about Aultmore Distillery, check out their website here

Photos & Article By: Chris Joseph
Graphic Art By: Seth Brown


Greetings everyone! This is Chris Joseph, the Whisky Highlander, coming to you straight from Speyside, Scotland. Living in a region that is home to over fifty distilleries, it's hard to not know a thing or two about the water of life. I've hiked along the Smugglers Trail, where back in the early 1800s many illicit stills were hidden away from the exciseman. I ride my mountain bike on trails along the river Spey, which provides the water source for a great deal of the scotch we all enjoy. For those of you that follow my Instagram account, it's easy to tell that I'm more photographer than writer. I enjoy showcasing the beauty of northern Scotland along with whiskies from all around my home country. Personally, I'm partial to cask strength, sherry monsters, many that are only available from the distillery shops. There are most definitely advantages to living here. Thank you for checking out my post and supporting SOWC.

Slàinte from Speyside!


Make sure to check back in tomorrow, where we are heading to Westland Distillery in Columbus, Ohio, USA with Aaron Cave.

Want to read our previously distillery visits? Click the links below!