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Gaelic for ‘Big Burn’, Aultmore was founded in 1895 by one Alexander Edward. The distillery stood on a site just north of Keith in Banffshire. Edward was following in the footsteps of his father, who owned Benrinnes some years before. Aultmore was well named as it took its power from the burn using a water wheel. Later it transferred to a steam engine that ran for 70 years. Aultmore was purchased by John Dewar & Sons in 1923. Despite selling the distillery a couple of years later, Dewar’s are once again the proprietors, having reacquired it in 1998.
During the 1950s, Aultmore was one of the first distilleries to pioneer a form of recycling that is still in widespread use today. During the production process, milled barley is mixed with warm water and stirred in a large vessel called a Mashtun. During this procedure, sugar within the barley dissolves into a kind of syrupy liquid, or Wort, and sent to be fermented into alcohol. Back in the mashtun, however, the leftover barley residue, known as draff, is collected and sold to local farmers as Cattle feed. Aultmore is said to have been among the first to adopt this practice.
Most of Aultmore’s output goes into Dewar’s blends but a single malt has been available since around 2004. There are currently there official bottlings available at 12, 21 and 25 years old. However, Aultmore can often be found in the ranges of independent bottlers like Morrison MacKay’s Carn Mor.
Morrison Mackay are a Perthshire-based, family-owned, independent bottler. They specialise in sourcing and bottling single malt from all over Scotland which they release under their Carn Mor brand. I’ll be reviewing a 6-year-old, 2010 vintage Aultmore that was bottled in 2016 at 46%. Importantly, it has been bottled at natural colour and without the use of chill filtration.
Smell: Classic Speyside nose with Apples & Pears, Grass, Honey & Heather & Biscuit.
Taste: On the palate there’s Vanilla, Honey & Malt with Custard, Cinnamon and a touch of Pepper.
Thoughts: Cracking value at £35 a bottle. Not perhaps the most exciting flavour profile, but a good, simple, spirit-forward Speyside malt. It has a youth to it but comes across as fresh and vibrant, rather than raw. There’s far too few Speyside malts at 46% so it’s always a treat to come across one, especially when it’s priced so reasonably.