The Silver city with a golden dram

Historically, Aberdeen has been the home to some of the most influential and famous whisky companies over the last 200 years. However, there may be a case that the Aberdeen’s Whisky history books go back much further and a new chapter is about to be written.

Ardent Spirits, the company behind Burn o’Bennie Distillery in Banchory, is about the launch a new range of independently bottled whiskies. There has been an exciting renaissance in the Scotch Whisky industry but looking to lead that renaissance in Scotland’s third most populous city is Ardent Spirits. As well as bottling single cask whiskies and rums, Ardent Spirits also began producing its future whisky at its new Burn o’Bennie Distillery, based in Banchory the gateway to Royal Deeside. Burn o’Bennie has recently expanded and will now have the capability to produce over 400,000 litres a year. 

In 2019, researchers from the University of Aberdeen found records from 1505 proving there was a still for making ‘aquavite’ (Middle Scots word for ‘Water of Life’ referring to Whisky) in the city’s UNESCO records. Although not the first reference to whisky (that was in 1494), it is the earliest mention of a still used to distil a spirit for consumption.

In far more recent history, Scotch whisky lovers will be aware of the Chivas Brothers opening their Aberdeen emporium after being fascinated by the world of taste and smell. This emporium was the start of one of the most sought after Blended Scotch Whiskies in the world, Chivas Regal.

As well as the industry giants Chivas Regal having been born in Aberdeen, the independent bottlers William Cadenhead Ltd was founded in 1842 and was in the ownership of the same family until it was taken over by the well-known Campbeltown firm of J & A Mitchell & Co. Ltd who own Springbank Distillery. The home of Cadenhead’s was in the Netherkirkgate area of Aberdeen and operated there for 130 years of their trading.

Ardent Spirits is a company full of whisky geeks that aim to breath some fresh air into the industry and looks to revitalise Aberdeen’s strong whisky heritage as well as represent the local Aberdeen community. Aberdeen is home to some of the most revered academic establishments as well as hosts of the only street art festival in Scotland. Ali Baxter says that “The whisky industry can seem like a very serious and daunting place at times, we want to create a brand in which everyone is welcome, and we can have a laugh. Let’s make whisky fun again!”

Much like the city of Aberdeen itself, Ardent Spirits looks to tie the traditional with the modern and add a fresh new perspective on the industry. 

Ardent will be releasing their inaugural bottling later on this year, a 2012 Caol Ila matured in Pedro Ximénez sherry, which combines the aromatic smokiness of the Islay spirit with the rich sweetness of the PX sherry cask.
To receive more information, please visit ardentspirits.co.uk/shop 


Alistair Baxter, Brand Director of Ardent Spirits, discusses the opportunities surrounding whisky investment – why it’s appealing to buy whisky from a distillery rather than a broker, the process of owning a cask and why some people just want to enjoy a bottle from their investment on a special occasion.

What is “Whisky Investment”?
Whisky investment covers a wide range of products within the whisky industry.  It could be that someone has bought a bottle to save for a rainy day and it has gained value over the years and they look to make a small profit on an auction site. However, it could be more tactical investments such as in casks of whisky, or collections. 

Whisky is for drinking, so why invest? 
For years, cars were simply a mode of transportation getting you from A to B, but as interest grows in any sector, so do the avenues for individuals and businesses to look to make a career out of their passion. 

Can you actually make money investing in whisky? 
There is an element of risk with any investment. However, the folks over at ‘Rare Whisky 101’ have data showing the incredible rise the whisky bottle market has seen over the last decade. 

I have read some big claims, it seems too good to be true?
We would always recommend doing due diligence. There are some fantastic Whisky Brokers out there! However, being a distillery, it is easier for us to show you first hand our process, as well as sitting down and chatting through any concerns face-to-face. 

I have always wanted to buy a cask of Whisky, does it have to be an investment? 
Of course not! Your cask of whisky is yours to enjoy. That may be for bottling for a significant anniversary, or to enjoy with family and friends.  

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