Aberlour 15, 2005 (Old Particular for K&L)

The theme for this week’s whisky reviews, I said on Monday, is Speyside distilleries. I should have said “bourbon cask whisky from Speyside distilleries”. Because that’s what these are. Monday’s Glentauchers was from a first-fill bourbon barrel and I quite liked it anyway. Today’s Aberlour is almost twice as old at 15 years of age and was matured in a refill hogshead—which is the cask type what I wish all bourbon cask maturation would happen. Between the larger volume over a barrel the consequent lower oak contact and the usually mellower oak influence in a cask that has had whisky filled in it a number of times, the malt is really able to express itself. And when the distillate is a fruity one—as so many from the Speyside are—it makes for a natural match. And as the official releases from the distillery seem to mostly emphasize sherry maturation, it’s always great to see an Aberlour from a bourbon cask of any kind, leave alone a refill hogshead. Let’s hope this was a good one.

Aberlour 15, 2005 (57.3%; Old Particular for K&L; refill hogshead 14948; from a bottle split)

Nose: Malt, cereals, tart-sweet apple and a touch of lemon (or is that pineapple?). Maltier and sweeter with each sniff (simple syrup) but the cereals and musky fruit keep pace too. With time there’s definitely pineapple in there along with some melon. Water amplifies the muskier fruit—some kiwi in there too now.

Palate: Comes in with the acid in the lead and man, this is good! Lemon and lemon cream with malt and a bit of prickly oak coming up from below. A nice bite at full strength and rich texture. The toasted malt from the finish comes out earlier with time even as the lemon expands and gets oilier and waxier. With time the fruit gets muskier, with a hint of tart-sweet mango in there as well. Okay, let’s see what water does. Hmm it seems to push the muskier notes back a bit here and bring out more citrus (lime rather than lemon now) and some peppery oak.

Finish: Long. The acid and the oak give way to toasted malt and crumbled malted biscuits (cookies for you Americans). Fruitier here too with time. As on the palate with water.

Comments: You’ll sometimes see old fart whisky nerds go on about the pleasures of bourbon cask Aberlour. This is why. This is the kind of lovely marriage of fruit, malt and oak that you can only get in a refill hogshead. I liked the nose the most and liked it there more with water. The palate I preferred neat. Which is a bit of a conundrum but one I’d have enjoyed trying to figure out if I had a whole bottle, which, sadly, I don’t.

Rating: 88 points.



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