Scotland and Scotch whisky: Speyside  whisky through the producing distilleries: history, making, maps and tasting notes

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Aultmore


Aultmore Distillery
Keith
Banffshire AB55 3QY
+44 1542 882 762

Owner: Bacardi

Creation year: 1985


The distillery has been build in 1895 by Alexander Edward, son of David Edward, who owned Benrinnes, south of Aberlour. Alexander Edward was an important character in the whisky industry, and he built Craigellachie together with Peter J. Mackie (Restless Peter) in 1898.
The first spirit ran out of the stills in 1897 and less than one year later, the annual production has grown up to 450.000 litres a year. 
In the same year 1898, Alexander Edward acquired the Oban distillery, creating the "Oban and Aultmore-Glenliver Distilleries Ltd".
The year 1899 was the beginning of a whisky crisis and the bankruptcy of the "House Pattirsons Ltd", an important blender from Leith obliged both distilleries to close for a few years. Other blenders bankruptcies followed .A short improvement of the market in 1903/1904 encouraged the distillery to reopen for a while, and just like most of the distilleries, Aultmore closed again during WW1, due to a lack at barley. 
The prohibition in the United states has been fatal to the distillery, and Oban and Aultmore have been both sold to John Dewar and sons in 1923. In 1925, Dewar worked together with DCL, and as a consequence Aultmore became part of the UDV group. 
The distillery closed again during WW2 between 1943 and 1945 because of a new lack at barley. Great renovation works took place en 1970 and 1971, forcing the distillery to close temporarily/
A fusion obliged UDV to sell the distillery in 1998.
A great part of the production is used in the blends VAT69, Dewar’s White Label, and Johnnie Walker Black Label.




Auchroisk


 

Auchroisk Distillery
Mulben - Banffshire EB55 6XS
+44 1542 885 000

Owner: Diageo

Creation year: 1974


The single malt produced by the young and modern distillery Auchroisk is called "The Singleton". The first bottling of "The Singleton" dates from1986. The distillery was build in 1973 and has been build because the demand of the blended whisky industry was very high. The stills produced their first alcohol in 1974.
This very elegant distillery has won lots of architecture prizes and its whisky was awarded more than once. About 10% of the production is marketed as single malt, the remaining being used in blends, specially in the famous J&B.
The distillery found out an original system to avoid the wash to overflow during the first phase of the fermentation. At the difference with other distilleries who use a rotating motor with a kind of propeller, the system of Auchroisk consists of 4 stainless steel bars above each wash back. As soon as foam reaches one of the bars, a mechanism lets fall a solution based on dietary fiber and the effect is immediate: the foam produced by the fermentation goes down.
As the distillery works for about 90% for blending, specially for J&B, the owners use to mix their single malt prior to send the casks for blending (vatting).
In addition, a number of casks from other distilleries are maturing in the Auchroisk warehouses, in prevision of future blends.




Knockdhu (An Cnoc)


Knockdhu Distillery 
Knock by Huntly 
Aberdeenshire AB54 7LH
+44 1466 771 223 
Owner: Inver House Distillers
Creation year: 1877

John Morrison bought the Knock estate in 1892 from the Duke of Fife and discovered later some nice water burns on the Knock hillside. John Morrison was so impressed by the quality of the water that he let examine it by a specialised laboratory. One month later, the negotiations necessary to build a distillery were finished, and Knockdhu was born.
The choice of the site was also partially imposed by the proximity of the railway station on the "Great North of Scotland" line, between Aberdeen and Elgin. This railway does not exist anymore.
The architects Gordon & Macbey from Elgin were in charge of the construction and the foundations were ready in May 1893. The distillery is build with granite from the area, and is still admired by all the visitors, even more than one century after its creation.
The first whisky production happened in 1894.
A new malt grinder has been installed in 1928, in replacement of the old one which was at the origin of a fire who destroyed partially the wall of the still room.
During the great recession from 1931 to 1933, the distillery was closed. World War II also forced the distillery to close due to restriction on the barley distribution in those days.
Lots of distilleries have been used to lodge soldiers during the war. Knockdhu was occupied by an unit of the Indian Army. Stables and a slaughterhouse were build on the site to feed the troops.
The distillery closed down a third time in 1983 before being acquired by the Inver House group who resumed the production on 6 February 1989.
It's single malt has been renamed An Cnoc in 1994 to avoid any confusion with the famous Knockando.
The single malt of the distillery is used in lots of blends, among others in Mac Arthurs's, Catto, Inverhouse, Blairmhor, Glen Talloch, Heater Cream and Hankey Bannister.

 
 


An Cnoc (Knockdhu)


Knockdhu Distillery 
Knock by Huntly 
Aberdeenshire AB54 7LH
+44 1466 771 223 
Owner: Inver House Distillers
Creation year: 1877

John Morrison bought the Knock estate in 1892 from the Duke of Fife and discovered later some nice water burns on the Knock hillside. John Morrison was so impressed by the quality of the water that he let examine it by a specialised laboratory. One month later, the negotiations necessary to build a distillery were finished, and Knockdhu was born.
The choice of the site was also partially imposed by the proximity of the railway station on the "Great North of Scotland" line, between Aberdeen and Elgin. This railway does not exist anymore.
The architects Gordon & Macbey from Elgin were in charge of the construction and the foundations were ready in May 1893. The distillery is build with granite from the area, and is still admired by all the visitors, even more than one century after its creation.
The first whisky production happened in 1894.
A new malt grinder has been installed in 1928, in replacement of the old one which was at the origin of a fire who destroyed partially the wall of the still room.
During the great recession from 1931 to 1933, the distillery was closed. World War II also forced the distillery to close due to restriction on the barley distribution in those days.
Lots of distilleries have been used to lodge soldiers during the war. Knockdhu was occupied by an unit of the Indian Army. Stables and a slaughterhouse were build on the site to feed the troops.
The distillery closed down a third time in 1983 before being acquired by the Inver House group who resumed the production on 6 February 1989.
It's single malt has been renamed An Cnoc in 1994 to avoid any confusion with the famous Knockando.
The single malt of the distillery is used in lots of blends, among others in Mac Arthurs's, Catto, Inverhouse, Blairmhor, Glen Talloch, Heater Cream and Hankey Bannister.

 
 


Allt-a-Bhainne


Allt-a-Bhainne Distillery 
Glenrinnes, Dufftown 
Banffshire AB55 4DI 
+44 1542 783 331
Owner: Pernod-Ricard
Creation year: 1975

The distillery has been founded in 1975 by Seagram (Chivas and Glenlivet group) to produce whisky needed for the blends of the group.
The first distilling took place in 1975, and the production capacity has been doubled in 1990.
It is a hi-tech distillery, and the whole process is conducted by just one person. This is possible because everything in the distillery is situated on the same level.
When the whisky is distilled, it is transported by tanker lorry to warehouses in Keith where it is transferred in casks and matured.
The production is used for the blends of the group: Chivas Regal, Passport, Something Special et 100 Pipers. It is not marketed as single malt, with some rare exceptions, like Ian McLeod who sells it.





Aberlour

Aberlour distillery
Aberlour Banffshire AB38 9PJ
+44 1340 871 204

Owner: Pernod-Ricard

Creation year: 1826


Settled in the village of Aberlour in the heart of the Speyside area, the Aberlour distillery is officially running since 1826, but it was probably active before this date.
The distillery has been founded by James Gordon but was transferred to its current location by James Flemming in 1879.
There were two distilleries in the village of Aberlour up to 1948. Aberlour distillery has been sold by James Flemming to the Thorne & Sons group in 1982, but James stayed in the distillery as a manager until 1920.
An explosion in the millhouse in 1989 caused a fire which completely destroyed the distillery. It was quickly rebuild so the production could resume.The distillery only closed during the two world wars.
The distillery has been extended in 1945 just after its acquisition by the Campbell Distillers group. This group became part of the French group Pernod-Ricard in 1974. The distillery has been completely demolished and rebuild in 1973 when French group took it over.
The shape of the stills, with a very wide base, dates from the second rebuild of the distillery in 1898.
The village of Aberlour has probably been founded during the 7th century when St Dustan used to baptise the converts in the water of the burn flowing from the granite mountain Ben Rinnes.
Peat from the region is used sparingly.
25 to 50 % of the production is matured in sherry casks, the remaining part being matured in bourbon casks.
About 50% of the production is marketed as single malt, the remaining part being used for the Clan Campbell blend, belonging to the same group.




 

Glenfiddich


Glenfiddich Distillery
Dufftown, Keith
Banffshire AB55 4DH
+44 1340 820 000

Owner: William Grant & Sons Ltd

Creation year: 1887


Just like Glenfarclas and Springbank, Glenfiddich is still driven by the founders family. This is nowadays very unusual in the scotch whisky industry. William Grant founded the distillery and used therefore second hand material bought from Elisabeth Cumming, from the Cardhu distillery.
This idea was not based on economic reasons, but William Grant refused to start a distillery without knowing for sure the stills were working properly. William has been working for over 20 years in the whisky industry as a manager and accountant at the Mortlach distillery before founding Glenfiddich.
The first spirit came out of the stills during Christmas Eve in 1887, and the distillery became quickly very successful. After five years, William Grant started building his second distillery, Balvenie.
After the bankrupt of one of his best clients, Robert Pattison, William Grant began making his blends by himself, and was very successful with his first products called "Standfast" and "Best Procurable".
The Grant's distilleries were amongst the only ones which continued producing their whisky during the two world wars.
One of William's sons, Charles Grant bought the distillery Glendronach, and sold it forty years later to William Teacher.
The present owners of the distillery represent the fifth generation of Grants managing the business. To be sure to be able to produce their blends, the Grants must guarantee the follow up of grain whisky. In order to achieve this, the family decided the construction of the Girvan grain distillery on the ground of the Lowland "Ladyburn" distillery which closed in 1976.
Glenfiddich was the very first scotch distillery to export its single malt outside of Scotland. This was a kind of revolution in the world of whisky.
In 1990 the family Grant founded a new distillery called Kininvie.
Glenfiddich is much more than a famous single malt, it is a real ambassador or Scotland around the world.
About 90% of the production is sold as single malt, and the remaining 10% are used in the Grant's blend.




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