Photograph: Ben Matthews

Aberlour Distillery

Aberlour is a distillery of single malt Scotch whisky, located on Aberlour town, Speyside, Scotland at the crossing of rivers Lour and Spey near Ben Rinnes. The Speyside region is the most prolific whisky producing region in Scotland, accounting for over half of all of Scotland’s distilleries. Speyside whiskies are recognized for their “heather-honeyish” character, which is a product of the unique malting processes, local climate, and water sources.


Aberlour is particularly influenced by its water source, flowing from Ben Rinnes, through the local peat and granite of the Lour valley and on to the distillery. It picks up scarce mineral deposits along its journey resulting in a naturally soft water. This water is used in all stages of production, and lends Aberlour its smooth, delicate character.


The whisky comes in a variety of ages including a 10, 12, 15, 16 and a rare 30 year old 1970 vintage malt, as well as a cask strength release (A’bunadh) with no age statement. Several vintages and independent bottlings are also available. Most of the variants are aged for a time in American ex-bourbon casks (a standard for most single malt Scotches). Aberlour also releases a range of malts that, after ageing in bourbon casks, are transferred to casks that have been used previously to mature varieties of fortified wines. This process is known as finishing, and Aberlour offers whisky finished in sherry and bourbon. They also produce a line of sherry finishes specifically for the French market.


Although its labels read 1879, the Aberlour distillery was first founded in 1826 by James Gordon and Peter Weir. The original distillery, which was destroyed in a fire, was rebuilt in 1879 by James Fleming (1830-1895), and this is the date marked on the bottles. In 1898, a second fire consumed several of the distillery buildings and most of the whisky reservoirs, but eventually the site was reconstructed.