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St Drostan’s Well
Aberlour Distillery was founded in 1879 by James Fleming, son of a local farmer. Fleming had been supplying grain to local distillers for years and dreamt of one day owning his own plant. He would realise this dream when he acquired land on the outskirts of Charlestown of Aberlour, a village named after its founder, Charles Grant of Elchies, though much more commonly known, then and now, as simply Aberlour.
Fleming’s land included an excellent water source in the form of St. Drostan’s Well, named after a Scottish Abbot who was trained by St. Columba. Drostan was one of the 12 ‘Brethren of Columba’ who accompanied the famed Saint from Ireland to Scotland around 563AD. There are only a few shreds of historical data regarding Drostan but the story goes that Columba and his followers travelled from Iona to Buchan where, after curing the local chief’s son of illness, they were given land on which to build a monastery. When Columba later returned to Iona he left Drostan behind to serve as Abbot.
Later, Drostan sought out the existence of a hermit and travelled north to Aberdeenshire where he is said to have performed miracles and according to legend, baptised many locals in the same body of water that now feeds Aberlour Distillery.
Aberlour’s early years were tough. The distillery had to be rebuilt in 1879 and 1898, after twice being destroyed by fire. In the years that followed, it was passed from owner to owner before finding a steady home in the 1970s with Pernod Ricard. Today it is part of Pernod’s Chivas Brothers whisky portfolio with a core range made up of a 12-year-old, 12 Year Old Sherry Cask, 15-Year-Old Double Cask Matured, 16 Year Old, 18-Year-Old and A’Bunadh.
This week, however, I’m focusing on the 10-year-old which has long been rumoured to be in danger of discontinuation, a concern backed up by the absence of the product on the official website. For the time being, however, it remains in good numbers in many shops and online retailers. Something of a budget malt, the 10-year-old retails for around £25, though it can often be found even cheaper in UK supermarket chains.
Smell: Sherry notes like Raisins & Sultanas. There’s Orange, Brown Sugar and Honeycomb. Over time in the glass, the Sherry fades a little and some Vanilla, Honey and Lemon come through.
Taste: Orange, Caramel, Winter Spices like Cinnamon and Clove with a little Sherbet.
Thoughts: Speyside whisky can sometimes be a bit tame for me when bottled at 40% but with Aberlour, I find it actually carries enough flavour to make it interesting.
The whiskies orange hue suggests a fairly liberal use of colouring but there’s a decent dram here at an affordable price. It would also make a good entry point to the world of whisky.
Even for the more experienced whisky drinker, it’s a dram that wouldn’t be out of place in most cabinets. Won’t blow your mind, but certainly isn’t a waste of £20 either.
If the whisky featured in this review has caught your eye, you can buy it from Master of Malt here. Please be aware that as an affiliate I can be paid a small commission should you make a purchase after following a link from my page. The whisky is also available from several other excellent retailers.