Whisky fans will be familiar with the name Aberlour. Frequent travellers who stop by DFS will no doubt have once picked up a bottle of their 12 YO, 18 YO, or perhaps, the tongue-twisting A’bunadh.
Which is why if you haven’t been looking for them, you’d be surprised to know that their regular range will only be readily available here in Singapore come August 2015 – the 12YO, 16YO, 18YO, and the A’bunadh, will now be available in selected whisky bars, cocktail bars and wine shops. (Correction: the 12YO has been available since 2014)
Aberlour, which means “mouth of the chattering burn”, alludes to ancient Celtic druids who followed the sounds of a wild mountain burn, or stream, called the Lour, and settled at where the Lour met the river Spey.
But where Aberlour distinguishes itself from many distilleries is in its use of double cask maturation. To disambiguate, there are generally two ways to go when two types of casks are used; the most common method is called finishing, and is often used to produce whisky with both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry characteristics. The new-make whisky spends most of its life in one cask, usually ex-bourbon American Oak, and then it will be ‘finished’ as we say, or re-racked into another cask, usually an ex-sherry cask (many experiment with wine casks too) for a period of time, ranging from months to years.
For Aberlour, and for the most part, the new-make spirit is aged concurrently in both ex-Oloroso sherry and ex-bourbon casks throughout its production, meaning both spirits are able to absorb a fair amount of flavour over the years; 10 at least, according to Aberlour. The ex-bourbon oak barrels infuse the new-make spirit with strong notes of sweet vanilla, while the ex-sherry butts add spicy, full-bodied fruitiness, and gives Abelour its distinctively dark colour. The two types of matured spirits are blended to create the signature Aberlour house style.
Much like The Macallan, Glendronach, and Glenfarclas, Aberlour’s whiskies exhibit a heavy sherried character, which owes plenty to its double cask matured process. As sherry butts are a crucial element of Aberlour’s house style, they take great care in the selection of ex-sherry butts. According to Aberlour, they’ve cultivated a close relationship with the same artisan from Jerez, Spain since 1985, and as such they can choose the type of sherry that will be matured in each cask, even sometimes to the extent of deciding how long the wine will be matured for in these casks, as well as influencing the mix of grapes that will be used. For Aberlour, this selection process takes between 18 to 24 months.
Official Tasting Notes
The distinctively crisp, citrus notes of Aberlour’s raw spirit is deftly softened by their double cask maturation, and deliver a subtly balanced flavour.
Nose Very soft and rounded with fruity notes of red apples
Palate Sherried character and fruity aromas balanced with a rich chocolate, toffee, cinnamon and ginger spiciness
Finish Warming and lingering. Sweet and very slightly spicy
Added depth and complexity due to the combination of first-fill ex-bourbon casks and fine ex-sherry butts, this expression exhibits fruity notes enriched by a spicy sweetness.
Nose Rich, dry scented floral and sweet raisin aromas with spicy nuttiness
Palate Smooth, full, sweet floral and spicy flavours with a soft plum fruitiness and gentle oakiness
Finish Long, warm, spicy fruitiness
Aberlour 18 YO
Age adds body and a rich raisin character to Aberlour’s depth and spiciness. Deep Bourbon and Oloroso Sherry flavours emanate in their richest and most indulgent expression.
Nose Rich and complex, notes of toffee and butterscotch combine with ripe peach and bitter orange
Palate Perfect structure. Initial notes of soft apricot and cream are offset by developing flavours of old leather and oak with a touch of honey
Finish Very long and balanced, progresses from crème brulee to a gentle oak flourish
A unique cask strength whisky that has achieved cult status among whisky connoisseurs, it is often one of few whiskies used to argue that no age statement whiskies can be excellent. A’bunadh means ‘the original’ in Gaelic, and is a homage to Aberlour’s founder, James Fleming. A heavy, creamy, single malt that is memorably flavoursome with an intense raisin character, it is often referred to as a ‘sherry bomb’.
Nose Aromas of mixed spices, praline and spiced orange harmonising with rich, deep notes of Oloroso sherry
Palate Orange, black cherries, dried fruit and ginger spiked with dark bitter chocolate and enriched with sherry and oak. Full bodied and creamy
Finish Robust and intense with bitter-sweet notes of exotic spices, dark chocolate and oak