Back in May, single malt whisky makers Aberlour launched the world’s first outdoor whisky art gallery. A few weeks ago, I got the chance to check the exhibition when I paid a visit to the distillery. Set on an idyllic stretch of babbling brook winding its way to Aberlour’s historic distillery, the exhibition aims to capture “the individual elements that together result in one of Scotland’s most famous exports.” And I reckon it certainly succeeds in doing so. This free to view and permanent exhibition blew me away with its series of super-macro images magnifying the beautiful and minute details specific to the journey of Aberlour whisky – from the pink granite that creates the softness of the water used in the distillation process to the special oak cask in which the spirit is transformed.
The gallery’s photographs are the work of Dr David Maitland, winner of the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 2008 and one of the world’s foremost specialist super-macro photographers. Super-macro photography allows the subject to be viewed an extremely close range, resulting in images of incredibly intricate detail. From delving inside a grain of barley to exposing the hidden pattern of an oak sherry cask and showcasing the kaleidoscopic patterns of the crystalline structure of whiksy itself, Maitland’s shots for Aberlour are a compelling and intriguing collection of images. For me it was fun to guess what the image was before reading about it and the process of making whisky – all while taking a relaxing stroll along a well kept path through the woods.
Says Maitland about his exhibition:
I am so pleased that the public can enjoy these images in the natural surrounding from which they were inspired, right in the heart of Scotland’s single malt region. The whisky journey is one that relies on nature and none more so than Aberlour, from the spring water used in the distillation process, to the sherry casks in which the whisky is aged. These images bring all of these elements to life in a way that I have not seen done before and I hope will be enjoyed by all who see them.
Of course it’s not just Maitland’s works on show here. Mother Nature’s art, including the gorgeous Linn Falls waterfall, is full view. And in my opinion is (thankfully) never upstaged or obstructed by the exhibition. Indeed, if you only wanted to take the leisurely mile or so walk only to take in the surroundings, it would be easy enough to do with the large photographs serving as little more than trail makers on the way to the distillery.
Aberlour Distillery is located near the banks of the picturesque River Spey, halfway between Inverness and Aberdeen (about an hour’s drive from either city’s airport). Distillery tours are available to the public and there’s a well stocked gift shop with plenty of Aberlour and other Scotch brands to be purchased alongside a range of local and Scottish souvenirs. Find out more at Aberlour.com.