The week in sherry cask reviews began on Monday with a 6 yo Amrut. here now is an Aberlour that is almost twice as old and was matured in an oloroso cask. This was a cask available exclusively at the distillery earlier this year. There was also a bourbon cask. That was also 11 years old and bottled at the same strength—which seeming coincidence suggests these may not actually be bottled at cask strength. Aberlour distillery exclusives are not something you can count on purchasing if you visit the distillery. My old-time whisky readers—if more than one or two still remain—will remember my bemoaning the lack of any exclusives when I visited the distillery in 2018 (though I did enjoy the tour itself). This one, alas, was not purchased in person by me—I’ve not managed to get back to Scotland since 2018 (though I do have dreams of doing so in 2023). I was. however, pleased to have an opportunity to try it via a bottle split. It’s been a while since I’ve tried a heavily sherried Aberlour and so I am looking forward to it. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
And here finally is my review of the last of the samples I got from a big bottle split of K&L’s single casks from late 2020. A bit of a miracle really that I actually reviewed them all in 2021. Next month I’ll start on some of the 2021 casks. The penultimate review from this lot was posted on Monday. That was a nine year old Linkwood that really surprised me with its mix of fruit and oak. That was from a refill bourbon barrel. This Aberlour is a fair bit older at 25 years of age and despite what the sample label says it’s not from a sherry butt. I’ve not seen the bottle myself but the label on Whiskybase clearly indicates that it’s a refill hogshead and there’s no sign of it being a sherry hogshead—which you’d expect would be touted by any indie bottler. K&L’s own marketing spiel for this one was unusually reserved, by the way: not a single store employee can be found here waxing poetic about its qualities. And just in case you think it’s only sample bottles that have inaccurate information, the K&L text says 184 bottles came out of the cask but the bottle label as seen on Whiskybase notes it produced 211 bottles. Lots of confusion all around. Anyway, let’s see what the whisky itself is like. Continue reading
Independent bottlers perform many services to whisky aficionados. First and foremost they are usually the only or major sources of single malt releases from workhorse distilleries whose owners all or most of their stock for blends. And for distilleries that do have single malt ranges of their own they offer the opportunity to taste single cask releases and malts at ages other than those at which the official releases are bottled. Finally, they sometimes offer the opportunity to taste expressions of a distillery’s malt that are outside the distillery’s official profile. This is particularly true of distilleries that are associated with sherry cask whiskies. Be it Highland Park or in this case, Aberlour, the independents have long been either the only or the only regular sources of opportunities to see what these distillates are like when matured in ex-bourbon casks. I am a big fan in general of bourbon cask Aberlour (see, for example, this and this) and so when the opportunity arose to purchase this 26 yo at a reasonable price at auction in the UK, I took it. I know nothing about this particular bottler. In fact, the only reference to Cooper’s Gold on Whiskybase is to this cask. And it appears likely that this is a cask that was bottled for a private individual who then decided to sell some of the bottles on. If you know more about the provenance of this release, do write in below. Continue reading
Here is my first timely review in almost a month. This Aberlour was recently released by Archives (the label of the excellent Whiskybase store in Rotterdam) and is still available. It has a number of things to recommend it: the Archives releases are always at least solid; it is priced very fairly in the current market; and it is a bourbon cask Aberlour. I sing the praises of bourbon cask Aberlours every time I review one; it really boggles the mind that the distillery (or rather its owners) don’t do more to feature their bourbon casks. I opened this particular bottle recently for one of my local group’s tastings—the theme was ex-bourbon whisky and it was well-liked by everyone in attendance. I thought the oak was just a little bit too assertive but not enough to mar the whisky. I’m interested to see if it might have settled down now that the bottle is at the halfway mark. Of course, those who are less sensitive to oak in whisky than I am will probably not be bothered by that aspect of it anyway. Continue reading
Yesterday I had a report on my recent visit to Aberlour. Today I have a review of their 10 yo whisky. I believe this is their current entry-level malt. It’s been a long time since I last tasted this whisky*, which comprises spirit married in bourbon and sherry casks and is generally fairly priced. Well the 10 yo was part of the tasting at the end of the tour as well, but I didn’t taste it then, as I was driving after. The sample I took away didn’t make much of an impression but it was a very small pour—much too small for a review. But as luck would have it the friend we stayed with in London for a few days after our Scotland trip had a bottle open and so I tried it a couple of times and wrote my notes up. Here they are.
*Potential correction: this may actually have been my first time trying this whisky. I think it’s the Aberlour 12 that’s more widely available in the US and that I’d last tried some years ago. Continue reading
Here is my sixth report on a visit to a distillery in the Speyside and it’s finally one that I toured. (Previous stops were at Cragganmore, Glenfiddich, Strathisla, Glen Moray and Glen Grant.) I was very much looking forward to this visit as I’d heard a lot about their distillery exclusive bottles and was hoping to taste and purchase one of each, and certainly at least the ex-bourbon cask they’re said to always have on offer. And the tour itself has a very good reputation—it’s one of those that is always recommended by whisky geeks to people making their first visit to the Speyside. Well, I was disappointed on one score and pleased on the other. Continue reading
Though I am writing this review well before it will post, when you read it (if you’re in the US), I will have likely just finished touring Aberlour. This is set to be our last day in the Speyside on this trip to Scotland and I’ve been looking forward to visiting Aberlour in particular. I will doubtless have an image-heavy report from the distillery soon enough but in the meantime, here’s a review of an Aberlour 13 released five years ago. This was bottled by the Creative Whisky Co. for their Exclusive Malts label and was an exclusive for K&L in California. This cask is not listed on Whiskybase, by the way—the only Exclusive Malts Aberlour 2000 they have is a sibling cask that was a year younger. This is an ex-bourbon cask—which is a rare but pleasant treat from Aberlour, whose official releases all stress the sherry. I’ve quite liked the other bourbon cask Aberlours I’ve reviewed (relatively) recently and I’m hoping this will keep the streak going. Let’s get to it. Continue reading
I was inspired by last week’s Blackadder Aberlour 17, 1990 review to see if I had any other samples lying around of bourbon cask Aberlour and found this 20 yo bottled by Signatory that I received in a swap a few years ago. This will be my third review of a bourbon cask Aberlour from the 1990 vintage (I know it’s a small n but I wonder if there were a bunch of casks from that year that made it to the warehouses of independents for whatever reason). If it’s as good as the other two, I will be very happy. Let’s see if it is.
Aberlour 20, 1990 (56.1%; Signatory; cask 101777; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Starts out malty with toasted cereal. The fruit begins to build behind that pretty quickly: lemon peel, apricot, a hint of peach. With more air there’s some oak (nothing tannic or overbearing). With water it’s less oaky, more fruity. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
I have not reviewed very many Aberlours on the blog and I certainly have reviewed any in a while—the last one was Batch 45 of their ever popular A’bunadh series, which I wasn’t too excited about. Among whisky geeks the A’bunadh is really where the interest in Aberlour seems to lie. The market for big sherry bombs at high strengths is seemingly endless. Those, of course, have no age statements on them and most are likely quite young (<10 yo). I’ve liked a number of the ones I’ve had over the years but have often found others to be either too hot or too woody or both. Accordingly, I was very interested to see this 17 yo bottled especially for the Whisky Exchange, which seems to essentially be a grown-up A’bunadh. Still from first-fill sherry, at cask strength but at a reasonable abv, and all of 17 years old. This should hopefully give some sense of how this distillate does with heavy sherry over a longer period of time.
Incidentally, even though this is a single cask, and the cask number is specified, the Whisky Exchange don’t specify the year of distillation. Since this was bottled in early 2016, however, it’s probably from 1998. Continue reading
Having reviewed the Glenfarclas 105 and the Macallan CS, I may as well complete the trifecta of iconic young, cask strength sherried malts from the Speyside. And so here is Batch 45 of the Aberlour A’bunadh (I’m not sure what number the series is up to now). As I noted in the review of the 105, the A’bunadh is very well-loved by whisky geeks—indeed, it’s probably not a stretch to say that it might be one of the most loved of contemporary malts among whisky geeks. Its name comes up seemingly on a daily basis on the Malt Maniacs Facebook page (this is an exaggeration—please do not bother counting) and you can always count on it being mentioned when someone asks for a whisky recommendation on a public forum. Its easy availability and its affordability (in relative terms, not in relation to its age, which is unknown) both probably have something to do with it, but, as I’ve said on a number of occasions, I think the real key is the batch numbering (which make every release limited and “special” and also triggers obsessive compulsive disorder, which whisky geeks are very susceptible to). It’s also, of course, usually quite good. Continue reading
(This is the fourth of five simultaneous reviews with Michael Kravitz from Diving for Pearls. Here is his review.)
Aberlour are known for their sherried malt, whether it is the young, cask strength A’bunadh, beloved of so many geeks, or the regular 12 and 16 yos. They do mature a fair bit in bourbon casks, obviously–obvious because their non-A’bunadh releases tend to be double matured or vatted from sherry and bourbon casks–but very little of this, if any, sees the light of day as official distillery releases. As always, we have the indies to turn to for the variety the distilleries are reluctant to give us in order to maintain their “distillery character”, and so this 22 yo from Exclusive Malts which is the oldest Aberlour I think I’ve had to date.
This bottle is from a first fill barrel–the label does not specify but it’s ex-bourbon. It was featured at our local group’s February tasting where it was quite well received. These notes are taken from the end of the bottle but it’s not been open very long. Continue reading
The venerable Speyside distillery, Aberlour is most popular among the whisky geeks for the OCD-friendly A’bunadh range, released in batches (now up to the mid-high 40s). While the A’bunadhs are young, cask-strength sherry bombs, Aberlour also release a number of more user-friendly age-stated malts in their core range and these are as elegant as they are approachable. At least, the old ones are–they recently refreshed some parts of their line and I’ve not tried the new entries. But if you find the Aberlour 12, 43%–and you might well find it in the low-mid $30s–there aren’t very many better mellow sherried whiskies in that price range. And the same is true for this Aberlour 16, which I last tasted some years ago and was very pleased to make the acquaintance of again for this review. Both are double matured in bourbon and sherry casks (I’m not sure of the particulars of the maturation periods/proportions). Continue reading
Today would have been the 71st birthday of Michael Jackson, the well-known and highly-respected whisky and beer writer, beloved in the whisky geek community for a number of reasons, not least of which is that he was the antithesis of the other contemporary whisky writer of similar renown, Jim Murray, who is known far and wide for being more than a little bit of what the kids on the street call a dick. Anyway, Michael Jackson passed away in 2007 of complications from Parkinson’s disease, and his birthday was subsequently anointed International Whisky Day, more or less informally, in the whisky geek world.There is a charity that benefits Parkinson’s research that you could give to in his honour on this or any other day; and on this day whisky geeks around the world have been raising glasses in his honour–many of them containing sherried malts, which were among his favourites, the Macallan in particular. Continue reading