A.D. Rattray 1991 Aberlour 18 Year Old, “K&L” Single Barrel – Review

*Thanks to Dave Driscoll and K&L Wines for the sample of this one.

It’s Tuesday…I wish I could regale you with some obscure history or made-up story about Aberlour’s founder, James Fleming, and his childhood dream of becoming a world-famous harpist, but it’s Tuesday and I’m already tired. So instead, a fairly perfunctory and dull write-up of a great whisky that deserves better.

Located south of Glasgow in Ayrshire, independent bottler A.D. Rattray has a long history going back to the late 1800’s.  Today the company is owned by Tim Morrison, who is the Morrison part of what is the now Suntory-owned Morrison Bowmore Distillers, LTD. In addition to their line of single cask malts, A.D. Rattray also owns the Stronachie Single Highland Malt brand.

With a great website and locations in Redwood City San Francisco, and Los Angeles, K&L Wines is one of California’s best purveyors of fine wine and spirits. They picked up this cask from A.D. Rattray recently, and are selling it as an exclusive.

One of Speyside’s more popular malts in recent years, Aberlour’s normal distillery range includes a 10 year old, 12 year old, 16 year old, 18 year old and the mighty cask strength A’Bunadh. The distillery is currently owned by Pernod-Ricard.

The Nose: Elegant sherry early, Palo Cortado or a sweet Amontillado, with dark, raisin-y Vin Santo notes, rich vanilla bean and a tiny touch of cinnamon caramel apple. Behind that there are really nice toasted grain notes and faint floral hints. As this opens up, the grain notes assert themselves a little more, creating a really nice balance.

The Palate: Luscious mouthfeel and entry, more sweet, raisin-y sherry to start, all the while developing more and more malt and grain. This stays well-balanced, though, the spicy grain always tempered enough by a subtle, fruity sweetness. The 18 years in a barrel doesn’t start to come through until late in the proceedings, adding a bit more spicy-ness and dryness.

The Finish:  Finishes a little salty with a nice lingering mix of mouth-watering acidity, grain, mild oak and just a touch of Highland smoke

Thoughts: K&L, you’ve picked a damn good barrel of whisky, there. The pale gold color of this one really is a bit misleading, it’s richer than it looks.  That said, it’s not as voluptuous and wanton as, say, the A’Bunadh, it’s a bit more delicate and ladylike. It develops excellently from the sherried nose to the spicy, grainy palate to the mild oak and faint smoke of the finish. If you’re a fan of the Aberlour 16, you’ll love this as it’s similar, but more developed, rich and complex. At the moment, K&L is selling this for $78… a pretty great deal.

Aberlour 18 Year Old, A.D. Rattray, “K&L” Single Barrel

54.1% ABV

Score:  88


3 thoughts on “A.D. Rattray 1991 Aberlour 18 Year Old, “K&L” Single Barrel – Review

  1. Damn you Peter for reviewing this release! I was eye’n it for awhile but was trying to ignore David’s high praises of it. I have typically been underwhelmed by Aberlour – other than the Abunadh so I felt safe in passing on this one. I pickrd up the Clynelish bottling instead. I might have to re-think my position now. while I curse you, my wallet thanks you for potentially making its load lighter.

    1. Ha! It’s good stuff. I’m a big fan of the (2) A’Bunadh’s that I’ve tried, but I’m kind of with you, the other Aberlours I’ve tried (the 10yo & the 16yo) are good, but they haven’t knocked me over. This one definitely was closer to A’Bunadh’s excellence tho’ not quite so “big”. How’s the Clynelish?

  2. The Clynelish is definitely BIG – that might be because it followed a nice mellow Rosebank though. I will have to re-taste it.

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