Class: Speyside Single Malt Scotch
Like Aberlour's 12 year old single malt, this southern Speyside distillery also releases a 16 year old using the same "double cask matured" technique. Rather than starting all of its whisky in ex-bourbon casks and then "finishing" the malt by transferring it to ex-sherry casks (like Balvenie does with their 12 Year Doublewood) Aberlour marries together full-term ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks in order to achieve a "double cask matured" single malt.
For more information about the Aberlour Distillery, see the review of the 12 Year (linked above). In this review we'll just focus on the whisky. We've got two sets of scores and tasting notes for you on this one - from both Brett and myself (this is Andrew talking). This will give you an extra scoring opinion and a better overall representation of what to expect should you try this single malt.
I can't speak for Brett, but Aberlour's whiskies as a whole have been hit and miss for me so far. I have had a couple of great batches of their cask strength NAS A'Bunadh, but was underwhelmed by the 12 Double Cask the first time I had it. It was early in my whisky journey, and I was tasting it at a whisky bar as part of a flight, so I figured it was worth revisiting, along with the rest of Aberlour's core range. Thankfully, my friend Vadim hooked me up with pours of the 12, 16, and 18 (review coming soon) to do a more focused study of. Let's get right to the review now; we'll start with Brett's notes.
- A vatting of first fill ex-bourbon and unspecified ex-sherry casks
- Chill filtered
- Most likely colored
- Bottled at 40% ABV
Nose: Honey and cream alongside some grape or raisin. A gentle spice lies underneath.
Palate: A bit harsh upon entry, which I was a bit taken back by, given this whisky's age and ABV. The same honey, raisin, and spice appear, bringing alongside them an additional bit of lemon.
Finish: Things turn spicier here, and I am left with a leathery aftertaste that comes seemingly out of nowhere.
Buying Recommendation: Don't Spend Your Money On It. I think this would be a middle of the pack whisky in the $45-55 price range. Unfortunately it costs closer to $80-90. It doesn't offer the maturity or depth I expect to find in a 16 year old. I think it would potentially benefit from a bump in the ABV, but at it's current strength I won't be buying it again.
Nose: Fairly light and flimsy. A moderately dry sherry note mingles with vanilla malt, a bit of stonefruit that adds some tartness, and maybe a touch of rosewater. The sherry notes here are reminiscent of raisin and cinnamon spice. Overall, the aroma is pleasant, but a thin.
Palate: Sugary and full of muddled dark fruits (plum, fig, prune). This dram is very sweet upon entry before developing a bit more bitterness that comes through as toasted grain and cinnamon. Despite the contrasting bitter notes, this dram gives a pretty one-dimensional "fruit punch" note.
Finish: Juicy. Almost grape juice-like. Dominantly sweet before some bitter florals develop and things fade out with a touch of dry oak.
A note about adding water: a few drops of water add a richer vanilla note to the aroma at the expense of the fruit, while amping up the spice on the palate, which gives it much better balance. This dram GREATLY BENEFITS from the addition of a few drops (just a few drops-no more!!)
Score: 71/100 (no water), 75/100 (with water)
Buying Recommendation: Don't Spend Your Money On It. This whisky's biggest shortcoming is that it lacks any sort of depth or complexity. Water helps coax some out, but for $80, you can certainly find a tastier single malt with much more character.
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
All thoughts and opinions expressed are original to the author of the review or article. We are in no way paid to express any specific opinion about any specific company or product.