Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Have just tried - Aberlour 12 years old

Aberlour is one of the biggest selling single malts in the world and currently sits comfortably within the global top ten for volume of sales.  It is also the top selling single malt whisky brand in France, which is no mean feat as the French consume the most whisky of any country in the world. Aberlour is also popular in the UK and southern Europe, and the core range consists of this 12 years old plus 10, 16 and 18 years old expressions. These are joined approximately once or twice a year by a cask strength single batch whisky named A’bunadh (pronounced a-boona).

The Aberlour distillery is located in the picturesque village of the same name. The village sits on the banks of the River Spey in the heart of the Speyside region. It was founded in 1826 by James Gordon and is currently owned by Chivas Brothers, part of the larger Pernod Ricard group who took over the distillery in the 1970s. In 1879, the distillery was completely destroyed by fire and was re-built on a different site at the opposite end of the village by a wealthy local man called James Fleming. The old distillery site is now the location of the famous Walker's shortbread factory.  For more information on Aberlour - check out our Distillery Visit write up.

Aberlour is probably best known for its use of quality ex-sherry casks for the maturation of its whisky.  This 12 years old expression is a little different in that it is made using a combination of these ex-sherry casks and ex-bourbon casks (labeled as 'traditional oak' on the packaging).  These are matured separately for the majority of the time, before being married together before bottling.  The Aberlour 12 years old is bottled at 43% ABV and can be found in specialist whisky retailers for approximately £35.

Our tasting notes
The colour is a rich reddish amber and the nose has an immediate aroma of fresh fruit - think of green pear and apple, plus a hint of peaches.  This combines with some lovely soft, sweet aromas of brown sugar, butterscotch and malty cereals.  Other notes of candied orange peel, cinnamon and nutmeg appear with time.  A very promising start indeed.

On the palate, this feels soft, gentle and rich with notes of butterscotch and toffee kicking things off.  The fresh fruit elements adds some balance and a pleasant tangy quality - think again of the crisp green apple and pear, along with that distinctive peachy note.  The candied orange peel again comes through and heightens the tangy feeling.  Underneath are notes of bittersweet cereals, baking spices (especially cinnamon and nutmeg) and toasted almonds, which add further depth and complexity.  The spices and tangy bitter orange seem to increase with time and lead in to the finish.

The finish is decently long and has plenty of bitter, spiced orange present.  These are softened by some lovely sweet caramel and toffee notes.  As these begin to subside the bittersweet cereals and baking/wood spices return to leave a lasting drying feeling in the mouth.

What's the verdict?
This expression of Aberlour is very good and seems to offer plenty for the money.  It is soft, gentle and quite rich with a lovely approachable level of sweetness and fruitiness - this should appeal to a wide range of people and would be ideal as an example of a richer single malt for a new whisky drinker.  The Aberlour 12 years old is delicious and well worth searching out, especially for what seems like a good price of around £35.

No comments: