Aberfeldy Distillery is tucked away in a scenic location in the Highlands. It is located about a 2 hour drive from Edinburgh. And also not too far away from Pitlochry either, where you’ll also find another two distilleries: Blair Athol and Edradour. I got the chance to visit on a cold crisp day in February with my previous job. And it turned out to be a lovely experience!
Visiting Aberfeldy Distillery – on a cold February day
Good to know
£9 for the Aberfeldy Distillery Tour, £16.50 for the Cask Tasting Tour and £26.50 for the Whisky Connoisseur Tour
How to get here?
You can drive and if you still want to be able to sample whiskies, request a drivers pack. It’s also possible to get a train to Pitlochry and take the bus or a taxi to and from Aberfeldy. Just be aware that it can be a bit tricky to get the timings right if you are planning on taking the bus.
Do I get to try whisky on the tour?
Yes,if you are of legal drinking age of course (and not driving)! The samples vary between the tours so check them out on their website before you book.
How long is the Aberfeldy Distillery Tour?
It varies between the different tours. 1.5h for the Aberfeldy Distillery Tour, 1.45h for the Cask Tasting Tour and 2h for the Whisky Connoisseur Tour.
We went in a minibus and upon arrival we were greeted by Matthew, Dewar’s Brand Home Ambassador (now Global Ambassador – congratulations Matthew!), who would guide us around for the day. We started out with food. Some lovely mushroom soup with cheese & ham sandwiches – perfect for a chilly winters day.
We also made sure to drink lots of water before our tour! Water was served in these branded tumbler glasses- aren’t they stunning? I may have bought one in the shop after the tour… I also bought some copita glasses and I’m now regretting that I didn’t buy the book about Tommy Dewar’s travels around the world. And perhaps also one of the Aberfeldy Distillery single cask distillery exclusive bottles. Might have to go back soon.
After lunch we started the tour and got to watch a film about the history of Dewars. Dewars is the company that owns Aberfeldy Distillery. The spirit made here in an important component of the Dewars Blended Whisky. There’s some really interesting stories about the Dewar brothers, especially Tommy Dewar and his marketing tricks.
Tasting by the water source
Matthew spoke a lot about the history of Aberfeldy Distillery. And it was great to listen to someone who really knew their stuff and had such a passion for it. It made learning about everything so much more enjoyable. He then led us along to Aberfeldys nearby water source. This was one of the most memorable tastings I’ve ever been too. Just look at this display! After this tasting, Dewars 12 will always bring back memories of this experience. How often do you get to drink nice whisky right next to the water source on the grounds of the distillery?
Smooth golden honey liquid.
Inside the main building we also had some time to have a look around a self guided part of the tour where you can see a replica of the Dewars brothers office and learn more about them. But my favourite part was looking at all the vintage posters. They also have an automaton which is made to look like the moving advertisement that Tommy created. It’s something that would’ve been very unique for its time. One of my other favourite stories is that they had their brand and slogan printed in to tires of bicycles in London which would then leave prints in the mud as advertisement for the whisky.
The old warehouse
To my delight we also got to visit the warehouse. The warehouse by the distillery is not primarily used for storing casks but more as a part of the tour. Which of course is the case with a lot of other distilleries since they nowadays need a lot more space to store the casks. Matthew told us about the casks they use and told some stories about when the distillery men used to steal whisky back in the day. He also invited one of our group to come up to “flog the bunghole”. Which may sound slightly strange… It is when you use a tool that looks like a wooden hammer to hit either side of the bunghole (the opening of the cask) so the little plug loosens enough to remove it.
Using a valinch (a tool for sampling from casks) Matthew then took some whisky straight from the cask to let us try it. Aberfeldy 16 is one of the whiskies I really like and I have a bottle at home, but there’s always something special about trying whisky straight from a cask. It was a really nice sample as well! They talk a lot of how Aberfeldy Distillery tends to have a honey note in their whisky and I think you can really taste that since it’s quite sweet and has a smooth thickness that also comes through in Dewars blends. Being able to taste whisky straight from the cask is one of my favourite things on a distillery tour.
After our tasting we all got amazed when Matthew revealed a hidden door that led straight to their secret bar; The Scotch Egg Club. Here they served some lovely Ginger Coolers. And we also got to try the new make, where you also can detect those honey notes. Sometimes new make can be quite sharp and have an unpleasant character but Aberfeldys new make is some of the best I’ve tried. If it starts out that nice, it’s no surprise that it ends up tasting so good as well.
We all got the chance to write a message on one of the many casks in the room so this was my contribution.