John Dewar & Sons Distillery and the Dewar’s World of Whisky in Aberfeldy is a must stop while in Perthshire, Scotland. If you are going to do the full historical tour of Dewar’s as well as the distillery you should plan on allowing at least two hours. The World of Whisky exhibit area was opened in 2000 and gives the historical overview of John Dewar’s modest start in the mid 1800s, later joined by his sons John Jr. and Tommy. While John was the first to join his father’s business, it was Tommy’s creativity and ingenious marketing flare that put Dewar’s in the world’s mind as a premium Scotch whisky manufacturer.
As you take the walking tour, you can access the individual audio programming via a handheld apparatus. When you approach a display, you enter in the corresponding exhibit number and the tour audio plays. It is a very human story of how Dewar and Sons, Ltd. became the leading manufacturer and exporter of Scotch whisky.
After the walking audio tour through the historical exhibits, you are ready to take the guided distillery tour. While photos are permitted, flash is not. We were able to get a number of great shots, however, which are attached to his review. The Aberfeldy distillery was built in 1896 and began operation in 1898. As you can see from the photo taken from the road in front of the complex, the building remains largely as it was first built over 100 years ago, with a small addition necessary to double their distilling process a few years ago.
We had a very nice young lady serving as our tour guide. The distillery tour starts with explaining the germination and mash process. Our guide explained that the germination process is no longer performed on site here. Once the grain is germinated, it is brought here to Aberfeldy for mashing. From there, guests are escorted through to the fermentation barrels where the smell of raw alcohol and yeast can be overwhelming. You will also notice the heat in this area.
Next stop is in the distilling area, where the brew is brought to a boil to turn the alcohol into a gaseous form. Once turned to gas, a chilling function is performed to return the alcohol back into liquid. This liquid is then sent through a double distilling process to clarify what will be next placed in barrels for storage and final aging. Dewar’s sends their barrels to Glasgow for the aging process, blending as appropriate and bottling.
In order to be called “Scotch” whisky, aging must be at least three years. Here at Aberfeldy, most barrels are aged far longer. The single malt Aberfeldy Scotch is a 21 year aged whisky. Much of what is made here at the Aberfeldy distillery is used by other Dewar’s locations for blended whisky.
After the tour, you can stop by the sniffing and tasting area to sample the product. For me, not being a hard liquor drinker, it was simply too strong for my tastes. David tried the 21 year old Aberfeldy single blend and thought it was very nice. For those who are teetotalers, there was coffee and tea available, as well as crumpets and other cakes.
The last stop of the World of Whisky experience was of course, the gift shop. You could buy bottles and gift packs of your favorites to take home. There was also a nice assortment of Dewar’s logo’ed apparel including t-shirts, football shirts, and caps. There were also some Dewar’s tartan items including scarves, sweaters, and tamoshanters.
The tour was £5.50, although we had a 10% discount certificate from the timeshare resort. This tour is also on the Blair Treasure Ticket if you choose to go that route for your discounted tour package. Even paying full price, we felt this was a good value and enjoyed our time learning more about John Dewar & Sons LTD and their Scotch whisky business.