Aberlour 20, 1990 (Signatory)

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

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. Continue reading

Aberlour 17 (for the Whisky Exchange)

Aberlour 17, Cask 2371, for the Whisky Exchange
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

Aberlour A’bunadh, Batch 45

Aberlour A'bunadh Batch 45
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

Aberlour 22, 1990 (Exclusive Malts)

Aberlour 22, 1990(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

Aberlour 16

Aberlour 16
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

Aberlour A’bunadh: Batches 27, 28, 38 and 40

MichaelJacksonToday 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