Aberlour 17, 1990 (Blackadder)

After a recently bottled atypical malt to start the week—the new official, peated Balvenie—here is an atypical malt that was bottled just over 10 years ago. It’s atypical because it’s an Aberlour from an ex-bourbon cask. Other than distillery-only bottlings, Aberlour only release sherried malts. Of course, they mature a fair bit in ex-bourbon but it’s to the independents you have to go to taste that spirit. I’ve previously reviewed an older ex-bourbon Aberlour from Exclusive Malts (I quite liked it). This one is from a bottle purchased before that one and finished before I started the blog. The independent in question here is Blackadder. However, this one was not bottled at cask strength (a bit of an anomaly for them) and had no silly bits of char in the bottle. I’d forgotten that I’d ever saved anything from it and found a large reference sample while rummaging through my shelves tonight for something non-sherried and non-peated. Let’s go back in time.

Aberlour 17, 1990 (46%; Blackadder; hogshead #3330; from a reference sample saved from my own bottle)

Nose: A very nice combination of citrus (lime peel, a bit of melon) with mildly grassy and bready notes. A little peppery prickle as well. Very fresh, on the whole. With water the malt pops out on the nose as well (or more accurately, the bready note turns into a malty one).

Palate: Pretty much as promised by the nose—very well integrated and with more oomph than the abv would suggest. Gets fruitier earlier with every sip: mild notes of peach and apricot along with toasted wheat. With more time, gets maltier earlier too. More citrus with a few drops of water and now it’s oakier as well.

Finish: Long. The citrus is dominant here and it gets maltier too. Oakier and spicier here too with water.

Comments: Sometimes I wonder why I save large samples of bottles for years—especially given the risk of their going flat (as recently happened with the Bowmore Tempest)—but this makes me feel good about it. As I said, I’d forgotten about this bottle: I opened and finished it before I had the blog and so had no notes on it. And so it was very nice to go back and rediscover it (and to discover that it had not died in the sample jar). It’s also a reminder that I should be trying and buying more bourbon cask Aberlour.

Rating: 87 points.

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