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    Aultmore Single Malt Whisky

    The name derives from Allt Mhor, the Gaelic for ‘Big River’ – although my 1857 Gazetteer of Scotland refers to the river in question, the Auchinderran Burn (from which the distillery draws its process water) as ‘a small stream’!

    The district is sparsely populated, rolling farmland, and the hamlet of Aultmore only came about when the distillery was built. The site is on the edge of an area of wild country known as the Foggie Moss, stretching north towards the coast at Buckie, with numerous springs and abundant peat deposits that made it a haunt of illicit distillers in the 19th century. Even today, the Moss exudes an air of mystery: often shrouded in thick mist, with ruckles of stone marking former croft houses, gaunt dead trees and rank pasture yielding to heather-covered moor.

    There is mention of ‘Aultmoor’ in Alfred Barnard’s Distilleries of the United Kingdom:

    “Our coachman points out a farmhouse on the high ground, opposite the Distillery, where lived McPherson, a noted smuggler, who for many years evaded the law, but was at last captured with several kegs of whisky in his possession, which he was carrying in his cart, concealed in trusses of straw, to the sea-shore. “He was heavily fined and in default of payment imprisoned. The fine would have been remitted had he revealed to the judge the Still from whence it was procured. As a matter of fact it was the product of an illicit Still at Aultmoor Glen, at the back of Bin Hill, a regular smuggler’s haunt, and these men used the same water as that now in use at the Distillery.”

    This was written around 1885; as late as 1934 an elderly local remembered a ‘small still’ being worked by one Jane Milne on the Auchenderran Burn, and the DCL Gazette of that year notes “four bothies, still visible in the burn and gullies where an ample supply of water could be obtained.” The illicit spirits were taken to Keith, Fochabers, Portgordon and Buckie, all less than ten miles distant, where it was said to been in great demand from publicans and innkeepers.

    Although the excellence of the water played a part in the choice of the site for Aultmore Distillery, the main reason was its proximity to the Great North of Scotland Railway, to which it was connected by a spur to the Keith-Buckie line.

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