Class: Speyside Single Malt Scotch
Reviewer: Andrew Owen
The Aberlour distillery sits in between Tamdhu and Macallan right on the south shore of the River Spey (although it still classifies itself as a "speyside", and we will classify it the same. It was built in 1879, and is currently owned by spirits-megalodon Pernod-Ricard. Aberlour is in the middling range for total output amongst scotch distilleries, and has just 2 wash and 2 spirit pot stills. It draws all of its water from the Aberlour Burn which runs right by the distillery. Aberlour discontinued its floor maltings in the 1960's and has since sourced all of its grain. It has several racked aging warehouses on site.
Aberlour is most well known for sherry-styled single malts, although its not too common for any of its whiskies to be aged full term exclusively in sherry casks. Rather, Aberlour typically employs ex-bourbon barrels and hogsheads for an initial maturation before transferring the spirit into sherry casks (typically sherry seasoned casks) to be "finished" for a length of time, or they vat together the contents of sherry and ex-bourbon casks to create a final product containing whisky of both cask types.
As demand for single malt scotch grows, and traditional Spanish sherry casks become more expensive to source due to demand, many distillers have moved towards using "sherry seasoned casks" to reduce expenses and increase efficiency. Rather than source a cask from a Spanish bodega that has been sitting in a cellar holding sherry for multiple years, seasoning a cask is the process of constructing or purchasing cheap casks and then hauling in sherry wine via tanker to fill the casks for a short period of time with before draining the sherry and filling with whisky.
- 12 year age stated, but I cannot find information regarding how long the whisky spent in each cask type.
- Bottled at 43% ABV
- Most likely chill filtered and colored
Nose: Sweet malt, citrusy orange, and sweet strawberry up front. Deeper in, some darker sherry fruits and oak can be detected. Moderate nose prickle despite the low ABV.
Palate: Wood heavy upon entry. The oak here is on the bitter end, like dry bark. Dusty sherry fruits (plum, raisin), some malty sweetness, and peppercorn. Very thin and watery mouthfeel with very little heat. The bitterness of the oak unfortunately overpowers the sweetness of the malt and sherry here.
Finish: Short. Sweet at first, with bits of citrus that fade away to more bitter oak. Oddly enough, a slightly metallic tinge lingers.
Buying Recommendation: Don't spend your money on it. Nothing in this dram was overly offensive, but nothing stood out as above average either. The flavors came across as thin and unbalanced. I only had a 2 oz pour of this at a whisky bar, but nothing here makes me want to buy a full bottle (or even another pour, really) when there are other great sherried options for the same $55-65 price tag.
The Rating Scale
At WBSE we use a true 100 point scale for scoring to allow whiskeys to further differentiate themselves (as opposed to a letter grade scale where 90% of whiskeys fall between 78-92). This allows you to more easily compare scores between different whiskeys. Here is how the scale breaks down:
1-49: Varying degrees of bad
60-69: Better than average
90+: truly exceptional
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