Somehow, Aberlour is not a distillery I get to try a lot of. There aren’t a lot of independent bottlers compared to some others, and their official range is quite static. A few age statements and their A’bunadh (an awesome dram though).
I have also never toured the distillery, which generally puts them firmly on my map, or pushes them further down the ladder. I did visit the visitor’s center a couple of years ago, when we drove past it with no time for a proper tour. I also picked up a bottle of their distillery only whisky, but haven’t opened it yet.
Then I got this sample, and decided to try it when on holiday two weeks ago. Boy was I not disappointed.
Whoa! There’s a ‘hint of cheese’ on the nose. It quickly wanes, so ‘volatile cheese’. Texmex, the day after…
Anyway, big bourbon, thick with golden syrup, but also a hint of grapefruit. A fairly beery, ‘Belgian’ style. It goes big on the grapefruit, with slightly herbaceous hints too.
More gentle than I expected. Lots of citrus notes, but not as singular and identifiable as on the nose. A hops like resin like note. Some golden syrup.
More bourbon like notes of vanilla, autumn leaves, some coconut, dry oak and resin here. Slightly waxy even.
Oh, but this is fantastic. That hit of cheese at first was weird, but that was gone in a minute. Big, bold flavors with lots of depth and intrigue.
The strange thing is that Aberlour is very well known for their sherry casks, but their bourbon casks deserve as much attention if this is the level they’re at! I guess the distillery warrants further exploration, since this stuff is amazing.
And, that off note on the nose actually adds to the experience and complexity. I’m still glad it was gone fairly quickly, though!
Aberlour 1997-2013, 16 years old, Bourbon cask 3973, 51.2%. Available only at the distillery, back in the day.
Thanks to PO for sharing the sample!