Ignore for a moment that it was probably caused by a tiny drop of water on the lens. Put out of your mind the idea that it is an imperfection. The chromatic aberation on the right hand side of the wall makes it look like Aberlour is at the bottom of the rainbow but instead of a pot of gold there will be some pretty decent whisky. I know this because A’bunadh is one of my stock favourites, a rich, round drink that suits a winter’s evening when you can sit back snug, smile to yourself, and think that the world is not such a bad place, no matter how wild the weather outside. (Actually it suits any time of year (ed))
However my prejudice in favour of this distillery did not cause me to have the forethought to book up a tour well in advance. I turned up, expecting it to be straightforward to find a slot, if not on the day at least on some other day of the week – but it was not to be. No places available before we had to go back home. That’ll learn me for being lackadaisical!
So what can I tell you? Well I can start by saying that the distillery was founded in 1879 on the site of Saint Drostan’s well but if you look at the emblem it tells you that. It is a representation of the well, with the date. The thing you need to know about Saint Drostan is that he was famed for his miracle cures so by extension this whisky should be classified as medicinal. So on the afore mentioned wild winter’s night, when it is making you feel just that little bit more content, remember it is not an illusion, it is genuine healing.
As for the distillery itself – there is something rather cosy about it. You can almost drive by and not notice it is there. It is remarkably unimposing being a cluster of buildings sheltering under the lee of the hill. It actually looks smaller than it really is as it has a capacity of 3,800,000 litres per year and so is solidly in mid table for distillery capacity. It is also the favourite single malt in France and France consumes more whisky than any other European country. So Aberlour is more than the little brother of Glenlivet; it has a substantial presence of its own. Having said that there could not be a greater contrast in the visitor reception area. Instead of a well designed building with plenty of space of circulation and browsing, there is a cramped little room that feels crowded with 6 of us. But it was cosy and very friendly. I got into conversation with the member of staff and another couple, who were visiting and we all nattered about whisky, places to visit and our preferences. It was very convivial and part of what makes going to distilleries a joy – there is engagement and enjoyment from everyone involved. It reinforced my prejudice – I really do like Aberlour.
But back to the whisky. I had a tasting of the non chill-filtered 12 yr old and it was very good. When my current bottle of A’bunadh runs dry I might replace it with this.