Aultmore Distillery lies several miles north of the town of Keith on the eastern fringe of Speyside. The distillery was establishedby Alexander Edwards and building commenced in 1895. The distillery initially did very well and production was doubled in the first few years. However the Pattison crash was just around the corner. The crash hit Edward hard as he had been a large supplier of bulk whisky to Pattison.
Production continued at Aultmore but times were difficult. Pattison’s downfall had led to a surplus of Speyside Malt whisky on the market, Prohibition in America and the 1920s depression also took their toll. Finally, Edward sold the distillery to John Dewar & Sons Ltd of Perth.
As in many malt whisky areas, there existed a thriving illicit stills community. The numerous burns and the peaty springs of the Foggie Moss provided the water, and the publicans in Keith were willing customers. Not all the smugglers were men and one of the better-known operators selling ‘small-still’ whisky was a woman called Jane Milne.
On display there is an old steam engine, which supplied the distillery’s power round the clock; to do so it was kept in continuous daily operation – except for repair and servicing periods – for the best part of 70 years. Whenever the engine was temporarily out of action the waterwheel, turned by lade-flow from a dam and which had previously supplied all power requirements, stood in.
In 1971 the distillery was rebuilt and a second pair of stills was added to the original pair. Virtually nothing remains of the original distillery.