Well, well, well. Aberlour’s history goes deep.

A reaper cutting rye in Germany 1949

A reaper cutting rye in Germany 1949 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most folks are well-acquainted with the phrase, You reap what you sow. It’s relevant whether you’re making a stew, knitting an afghan, or training cats to swim.

If you use last year’s carrots and potatoes, dinner is going to taste like dirt. (I just call it earthy.)

If you weave a blanket made from strips of recycled milk jugs, chances are most folks at the office are going to keep their fingers crossed you didn’t draw their name from the Secret Santa hat.

If you … all right, I won’t even go there.

The point is, your INGREDIENTS matter.

Water colored by peat in Aberlour Distillery, ...

Water colored by peat in Aberlour Distillery, Scotland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve written before about the importance of water to each distillery, and how they guard their source more closely than Mitt Romney hid his tax returns. In the end, most agree, it’s essential that the water’s flavor be supreme to begin with, because no amount of praying will make a miraculous change to your end product.

That is, unless you happen to be Aberlour Distillery and draw your source from St. Drostan’s well.

Columba banging on the gate of Bridei, son of ...

Columba banging on the gate of Bridei.

Drostan accompanied Columba from Iona to Aberdeenshire in the 6th century, determined to give the Picts a taste from the Christian buffet table, and hoping to gather up a few more players for Team God. Apparently, Drostan was a fairly likeable fellow. Maybe it was due to his gentle touch when baptizing converts. Perhaps his “alleged” restoration of sight to a blind fellow monk did the trick and brought him fame. Possibly, he shared the old Irish monastic recipe for making a little aquavitae. And I think we all know just how an individual can either take on a “saint-like” quality simply for sharing his private stash, or how firewater can make magic and miraculous things appear before your eyes if you have enough of it.

Whatever the reason, the saint’s well is occasionally credited for its fine contribution to the whisky’s flavor profile.

If not divine intervention, perhaps Aberlour’s success was fiddled with by fairies. Behind the distillery, visitors will come across the Pictish standing stones of Fairy Knowe: yet another nod toward legend, lore and luminary.

Dream Fairy

Dream Fairy (Photo credit: Alexandria LaNier)

It comes as no surprise that the name Aberlour translates from Gaelic to mouth of the chattering burn. Might those prattling pixies have a hand transporting dram drinkers into another realm entirely?

Of course, there is the notion that practice makes perfect, and that after nearly two hundred years of whisky making (actually, there are four dates of foundation), these folks really know what they’re doing and have the recipe down pat.

As the majority of Aberlour’s single malts are double matured, dividing their maturation time between ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, many of the available expressions are filled with fruit, and seasoned with various shades of sherry–some, a veritable nectar of the gods.

Aberlour a’bunadh

Aberlour a’bunadh (Photo credit: Peter Hellberg)

One in particular that garners some well-deserved attention is Aberlour’s expression, A’bunadh, which is again Gaelic for origin, and one emulating what the distillers feel is representative of Aberlour’s original spirit from the 19th century.  Described as dark and dusty, spicy and dangerous, one may be confused as to whether we’re describing a whisky or an old pie safe. Rest assured, after a few moments lingering in the mouth, most folks are searching for a hand to shake.

And this brings us full circle to the argument of credit. Heavenly? Mystical? Earthly?

You decide. Personally, my dram is transcendental anyway you look at it.


Don’t forget to check out what I blethered on about this week on the main post page (here) and find out what’s cookin’ in the scullery too (here)!


4 thoughts on “Well, well, well. Aberlour’s history goes deep.

  1. how scholarly! plus the requisite “field work”, eh? your description(s) really do make me wanna find some of this stuff! (and tho’ betty doesn’t like “the stuff” so much, she wants to GO THERE). i dunno. mebbe we will.

    now … how successful have you been teaching cats to swim?
    axually JUST LAST NIGHT i left the washer top up after it had filled, to go get more sox and stinky hockey stuff. i heard a YEEE OWL and intense metallic scratching as THE CAT (the ‘hero’ of Perils of Feline Arboreal Extraction) had leapt up (we sometimes have cat treats up there — when it’s closed) and slipped in. he was just mildly wet, but, uh, pist.

    • You can tell Betty that I thought the stuff was vile from the get go. And I made a full recovery. Going there helped immeasurably. (leaving was the dreadful part–I’m warning you, it’s addictive)
      And the cats? No. It’s clear I am not the cat whisperer. And clearly your cat would have a few words on the topic as well. Poor thing. I bet she’ll never do laundry again. I’m guessing this is what’s happened to my teenage daughter as well–she likely fell into the washer at some point–as she would rather do a three hour calculus exam with nothing more than a dull stick and her own blood as ink than do a load of laundry.

  2. i purchased a 12-year “standard” Arberlour (the store across the street from the office did not have a’bunadh) and thanks to you. had some: the jury’s out but (unfortunately?) the bottle may disappear kwyk. when i get home (a week-point-five from now) i’ll savor a dram and THINK ABOUT IT. and, wha- aa? yoove gen to krestid beeyoot?

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