An underrated jewel of the Speyside region, the Aberlour Distillery has somehow managed to consistently recreate the exquisite quality of their single malts for over a century. The Aberlour single malt whisky has always been the perpetual favourite of critics and whisky lovers that have successfully explored the horizons beyond the mainstream. The Aberlour core range is not monumental, and their sales figures are not astonishing, but their whisky? It is both those things, and so much more.
It all began when local James Fleming expressed a desire to start producing his own single malt whisky. Having gathered enough experience and skill during his time working at the Dailuiane distillery in Carron, Fleming founded Aberlour in 1879, and the rest as they say, is history. Located at the confluence of two rivers, the Spey and Lour, the Aberlour distillery flourished.
The current crop of Aberlour single malts, three blissful beauties with age-statements, and another critically revered small-batch cask strength monster, the Aberlour A’bunadh. Since 1997, the Aberlour has been released annually in limited quantities to much praise and courting. In fact, nearly every single release from Aberlour throughout their history was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews. Read on to know more about all the Aberlour releases currently made available by the company.
The entry level Aberlour bottling, double-cask matured and with an age-statement of 12 Years, this is some delicious stuff. The delightful Aberlour single malt is matured in traditional Oak and ex-Sherry Oak barrels to create a harmony between the Speyside character and the Sherry influence.
Aberlour age one portion of their single malt in traditional Oak, and the other in Sherry Oak, later marrying the matured spirit before they bottle it. Together, they are more than the sum of their parts with an intricate balance between smooth and rich, sweet and spicy. The nose on the Aberlour 12 Year Old is very inviting with sweet sherry and spice in equal parts, and some toasted oak and vanilla. The flavours are once again well balanced, sweet and spicy Sherry, fruity and with just a hint of smoke. The finish is soothing, very warm and leaves a lingering Sherry influence behind.
The second expression from the Aberlour range of single malts is the 16 Year Old, another Double Cask Matured delight. This is another consistently well performing Aberlour bottling to have won multiple Gold and Silver medals at competitions for many years. Keeping the traditions of the Aberlour Distillery alive, the 16 Year Old packs a considerable Sherry influence although the age lends a bit of character to the spirit.
The mouthfeel with the Aberlour 16 is very supple, and simply gorgeous would be another way to put it. When put into contrast with the 12 Year Old, it still has all the sweet fruit and warming spice, but with an added dimension of smoothness that just makes you fall in love with it. It is quite complex, and there is a generous helping of rich plum cake and heather. Aberlour are certainly doing great things, and if you need an example this one should more than suffice.
The granddad of the current Aberlour crop, the Aberlour 18 Year Old is currently their oldest offering. Released in 2008, it quickly managed to carve a niche for itself among other 18 Year Old single malts in the market. Now that is one fiercely competitive age for premium Scotch whisky, but Aberlour had packed enough fight in their whisky for sure.
The full body on this one a treasure, not to mention the clear lack of any peat or smoke, a fact all Aberlour loyalists will attest to. Overall, this is quite mellow as compared to all the other expressions that come before. Being mellow doesn’t take away anything from the Aberlour 18 Year Old. This expression is bottled at 43% ABV because Aberlour simply cares about us. There is loads of fragrant Sherry and vanilla, with flavours of juicy baked orchard fruits and cinnamon spice. The finish is very long, creamy and well balanced with just a hint of Oak. Aberlour have really outdone some classic Speyside whisky makers with their 18 Year Old. This is without a doubt, some mind-blowing top-shelf stuff that can become an indulgence if given a chance.
The A’bunadh, Gaelic for ‘The Original’, is a small-batch single malt Scotch, which means it is not available in large quantities. Aberlour only release a single batch of A’bunadh every year, and have been doing so since 1997. It is one of their best rated expressions, and loyalists eagerly await the release every year with bated breath.
As one would expect from a small batch whisky, the Aberlour A’bunadh is incredibly special. It carries no-age-statement, is bottled at cask-strength and undergoes no chill-filtration. That is a lot of attributes for just one expression, and contrary to what some would think, the A’bunadh balances every aspect beautifully. Nearly all batches of the A’bunadh since 1997 have been bottled at around 58-60% ABV, which is very potent. With all that Sherry influence, no one’s complaining. Very densely flavoured, packed with Sherry all around along with dark chocolate, caramel and toasted Oak. This Scotch cannot be recommended enough and given a chance, do not ever pass on the chance to try the A’bunadh.
19th August 2020