I can think of absolutely no tie-in between Speyside Scotch and Cinco de Mayo. 148 years ago today, a small but doughty Mexican army fought off a much larger French Army who were understandably pissed off at Mexico for not paying their debts and finally had decided to strong-arm the Benito Juárez administration into freeing up a little cash. Luckily for ol’ Benito, General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín had no interest in learning another language and didn’t like heavy cream sauces. He bravely fought off the apparently over-staffed and less-than-committed French horde. Somehow this small, somewhat inspiring, somewhat inconsequential battle has now become a clear, uncontested reason to get drunk mid-week in the United States. We co-opt small holidays and turn them into crass, commercial excesses better than any people on the planet.
Aberlour has a reputation of being one of the bigger, swing-for-the-fences, sherried Speyside malts. The 16 Year Old has been matured (not just finished) in sherry casks as well as the usual bourbon barrels. I tried this one recently at Nihon.
The Nose: Mmmmm…all sweet and hardly any peat. Bourbon-y brown sugar and Maraschino cherries. There’s a chewy caramel roll/sticky bun quality as well. Lots of sherry tones come out as well, ripe raisin as well as smooth oak. Lush, fairly voluptuous, and comforting.
The Palate: After that rich, inviting nose, the entry was a little empty, which was surprising and a little disappointing. It was sweet and smooth but in a way, kind of like simple syrup, I was expecting more complexity and depth. Things become more interesting with candied orange notes, oaked sherry and a pleasant spiciness, with a little cinnamon towards the end.
The Finish: Sweet, dusty and spicy in just the right balance. The finish isn’t all that long, but it feels just about right. 16 years worth of oak notes linger on a bit.
Thoughts: There’s a lot to like here, but for me, that kind of empty, almost weak entry keeps it from being a really stellar dram. It has a wonderful nose and great balance between the sweet, sherry flavors and the wood, it just seems to fall apart a bit when it first hits the lips.
Aberlour 16 Year Old Double Cask Matured, Speyside