Russell Brinklow debuts with his first Blog for Inverurie Whisky Shop as we headed to the usually closed distillery at Aultmore to take in a rare chance to tour the site, offered as part of the Spirit of Speyside celebrations.
We do enjoy an Aultmore at the Inverurie Whisky Shop with its beautiful summer flavours of peaches and lemonade, toffee and ice cream soda, fudge and milky coffee with some spice and the wonderful nose of freshly mown grass.
One could be forgiven for thinking you were on a picnic in an orchard while sitting back and enjoying this dram.
Typically, this whisky can be found in traditional ex-bourbon matured state, there are limited expressions from the distillery, but many more can be found from Independent Bottling companies. Sherry finishes are available, out there in the wild, but it is in the pure ex-bourbon condition that this spirit excels as a single malt. It deserves the title of “Bourbon Bomb” and we made sure to add one to our tasting night under that guise earlier this year.
One of Speysides hidden gems, Aultmore Distillery sits in the small hamlet of the same name close to the town of Keith on the Buckie road (B9016). It was built in 1896 by Alexander Edwards who was also the owner of Benrinnes Distillery and co-founder of the Craigellachie Distillery.
Production commenced the following year and quickly doubled in output before being sold to John Dewars & sons for £20,000 in 1923.
The distillery in its present guise is very different to the original having been rebuild entirely in the 1960/70s, passers-by will notice the roll up glass windows which serve the purpose of ease of access when replacing the stills as well as providing a nice cool air in the hot still house. These windows are also evident in sister distilleries at Craigellachie and Aberfeldy.
There are not many legendary stories around this distillery which has been the backbone of many blends, but one is around the bold white label on the bottles of “Foggie Moss”, the distillery bottlings which are available at 12 and 21 years old. The Foggie Moss is where the distillery stands and where the water is drawn from for the spirit.
In the days of travelling excise men, the locals would place a large white sheet or tarpaulin over the peat stacks to warn all the illicit distillers to hide their equipment.
In recent times the Aultmore has become popular in the far east, China and Thailand in particular where the name Buckie on the bottle has significance. If you want a dram of Aultmore in a bar in Keith you could ask for the “Buckie Road” and the bartender should know what you are looking for.
Autmore hamlet itself is situated of course on the road to Buckie just off the A96.
The Thai significance is that a ‘Buckie’ is a term used to describe people who are successful financially and upwardly mobile……so a bottle of Aultmore is seen as a sign of wealth.
The distillery is not open to the public, but one day each year the doors are open to those lucky enough to get their hands on a Spirit of Speyside ticket for the open day.
Mike and I were able to visit this year and enjoyed a guided tour by Matthew Cordiner Global Brand Ambassador with Dewars, The Grainman, Gary Ross was also on hand giving us some great, in depth (and some quite ridiculous) facts and figures!
The distillery was in production and it was great to see the vast Mash tun with viewing window, and then to inhale the aromas in the Washback room. The stills were bubbling away in the still house and we were able to observe the stillman measuring the cuts in the spirit safe.
When you see the stills you would be forgiven for looking for a heavy, sulphuric and meaty spirit. Short, dumpy and with a downward sloping Lyne-arm, we expect this to create something akin to The MacAllan, however the opposite spirit flavour is achieved by distilling at a lower temperature for longer. Ultimately throwing the argument of still shape up in the air once more.
There is no warehousing at Aultmore at present, but all told this was a rare and exciting experience to get inside this hidden gem of Speyside
We have a fantastic selection of Aultmore in the shop just now, why not give this wonderful whisky a try. From single casks to small batch creations there is certainly a secret Speyside wonder for you.
Written by Russell Brinklow and Mike Stuart
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