*Thanks to the good folks at Impex Beverages for the sample.
If my cursory google-able research is correct (and why would it be?) Aberlour, or as translated into Scottish Gaelic, Obar Lobhair, apparently means “The mouth of the talkative stream”. The babbling brook in question would be the Lour, which empties into the Spey, and upon whose banks lies nearby, appropriately enough, the Aberlour Distillery. Aberlour the distillery, appropriately enough, lives in the town of Aberlour, whose official name is Charlestown of Aberlour. Why Charlestown of Aberlour? Well, it seems that the current town was founded in the early 1800’s by one Charles Grant who decided to name it thusly in honor of his son…Charles. Not coincidently, I’m guessing, the name probably satisfied the ego of Charles senior as well.
Ok, now that we’ve got that settled, we can take a look at an Aberlour whisky from The Exclusive Malts, a line of whiskies from independent bottler The Creative Whisky Company which was established in 2005 by all-around whisky expert David Stirk. Until recently, the availability of Exclusive Malts selections excluded the U.S., but beginning in March of this year, Impex Beverages began to import this well-regarded line. This 12 year old Aberlour was distilled in 2000, matured in a refill hogshead, and was bottled (263 of ’em) at cask strength and natural color.
The Nose: Like a big mug full of honey and Fino sherry. Along with the honey, there’s quite a bit of fruit as well, bruised apples, canned pears in syrup and plump golden raisins. Close behind that, lemon icing, nice honey-covered malt with a tiny sour tinge, and vanilla crème brûlée. Subtler notes of sanded oak, cinnamon stick, orange zest, and believe or not, juicy fruit gum. Adding a little water plays up the malt a little more while turning down the spice notes somewhat.
The Palate: Picks up where the nose left off, but with a bit more punch. Still a nice dollop of honey with more citrus – lemon curd and juicy tangerine. More malt alongside toffee with a small hint of roasted nuts. A nice dose of drying, tannic spice swells towards the end; raw oak, Vietnamese cinnamon, bright, drying clove, candied ginger. Straight, the ABV is a little numbing, but with water, that honeyed malt gets a little creamier and the sharp drying edge of the spice is smoothed out a some.
The Finish: Continued dry and spicy, with the honey and malt carrying right through till the end.
Thoughts: Very enjoyable. At times I found this quite similar to the distillery bottled 12 year old, only less sherried and less…curvy, more lithe. I got much less of that sherried Aberlour quality and more citrus than I expected. The honeyed quality lends a nice consistency and balance throughout, and while I liked the nose more without water, the palate benefitted from it by rounding the sharp tannic edges of the spice and adding a nice creaminess. If you were ever curious as to what the bourbon cask matured part of Aberlour’s “Double Cask Matured” 12 year old tasted like on its own, this might be a good approximation. Recommended.
The Exclusive Malts 2000 Aberlour 12 Year Old, Speyside