Chieftain’s 1997 Aultmore 12 Year Old

*Thanks to the good folks at Impex Beverages for the sample.

Like many other distilleries founded in the 1890’s, Aultmore had a bit of a sputtering start:  opening in 1897, closing a few years later, re-opening in the early 1900’s…then closing once again as World War I began. Finally in 1923, John Dewar and Sons purchased the distillery which was then folded into Distillers Company Limited in 1925. Presumably, this is when Aultmore started making its appearance in Dewar’s blends. Bacardi bought the distillery in 1998 via one of its subsidiaries…ironically enough, John Dewar and Sons. Yep, also in 1998, Diageo (the current “version” of Distillers Company Limited) sold off Dewar’s to Bacardi, so Dewar’s had to buy Aultmore…again.

Aultmore is another one of those “Blender’s Malts”. They’re the whiskies that don’t see much light of day as single malts, instead being the workman-like foundations of the big market-share blends. As mentioned, in Aultmore’s case, most of the distillery’s output ends up in the Dewar’s line. It’s always interesting and worthwhile to try one of these seldom-seen single malts, not just for the rarity alone but also for a bit of insight into the blender’s art.

The Nose: If there was such a thing as sherried Speyside ice cream, this one would smell like it. Cream sherry, vanilla cake with lemon icing, fat, juicy grapes and apple sauce. Behind the sweetness, there are soft, subtle malt notes and just a touch of wood.

The Palate: The entry has a creamy, buttery mouthfeel with nice notes of vanilla malted milk, More cider-y fruit notes emerge followed by lightly spicy wood tones. A salty, slightly rough-edged quality to the sherried fruit almost hides a faint wisp of smoke at the end.

The Finish: Shortish, continued sherry fruitiness mixed with faint, salty wood smoke.

Thoughts: The very nice, fairly textbook Speyside nose from the Macallan & Glenrothes school, all sweet, rich and sherried, actually left me looking for more complexity on the palate than I found. The lush sweetness of the nose is offset a bit by the slightly rough, salty palette, but there’s still a nice fruitiness that lingers throughout the dram. A nice, languid, pre-dinner sipper.

Chieftain’s 1997 Aultmore 12 Year Old, Speyside, unchillfiltered

46% ABV

Score:  81


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