Aberlour is a Speyside distillery located near the confluence of the Lour and Spey rivers. Originally founded by James Gordon in 1826, since its rebuilding in 1879 it has used (very) lightly peated barley and wide-based, swan-necked stills.
This 16 year old is “double matured” (like their 12 year old), although what is meant by this is that they age the whisky in both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks for 16 years and then marry the two in approximately equal proportions. This is opposite of the approach taken at Glenmorangie, for example, where all of their whisky starts out in ex-bourbon barrels and then is continued or finished in various ways.
Aberlour Aged 16 Years
Color: a deep but shiny autumnal copper.
Legs: slow and sticky, with medium-sized beads.
1st nosing: fresh black cherries, chocolate-dipped strawberries, molasses, and a little fresh-baked sourdough.
2nd nosing: pine resin, orange candy, and lavender. Very nice.
1st tasting: right away there is a crème Anglaise, which subsides quickly beneath the chewy spices, figs, and nutella. Some fresh green grapes find their way into the mix at about mid-palate.
2nd tasting: still vanilla at first, but a bolder assortment of flavours as it moves along from ripe peaches to dried apricots, then to soft oak tannins and an apple and pear baked pie (with plenty of cinnamon). There’s a lot going on mid-palate, and I think many, many more tastings are in order before I make a final pronouncement on the matter.
1st tasting: spicy and nutty, with a good medium-long cinnamon-baked departure and a bit—just a faint touch— of smoke; drying.
2nd tasting: still spicy (cinnamon, cloves), with some of that fresh-from-the-oven sourdough bread. Fairly long, still drying.
Overall: It has the depth and maturity you’d expect from a good 16 year old, and a substantial body without any flabby parts. Good overall; a nice alternative to your more basic 15 year old Speysides. The Sherry influence is bigger, but still highly palatable, and the double maturation provides a pleasing but well-integrated and balanced twist. It doesn’t hurt that it comes at a great value ($57 at Binny’s). It certainly is a warm and comforting dram. Apparently, the French love Aberlour, and I can’t blame them.
Other Opinions: It’s hard to argue that this is fruity and spicey, but in what proportions? Is the overall experience pleasing, teasing, or overbearing? Disagreements abound around the internet concerning this Aberlour bottling, though most note that the sherry is quite present and yet well balanced.
- Official distillery tasting notes exclaim its floral fruitiness and dry spicyness.
- Matt at WFE regards it as “top quality,” and likes the balance of the double maturation over possibly too-heavily-sherried alternatives. His notes are quite detailed, as always, and he manages to extract quite a good number of fruit flavours in addition to the expected spices. Where he finds honey up front, I see vanilla. But that initial burst of plant-extracted sweetness is unmistakable.
- Whisky Distilleries finds it at times too sweet, on pears or plums (and spicey, of course), too alcoholic, and without too impressive a finish to give it higher marks than 16/20.
- While The Casks finds the sweet nose to be “lush, fairly voluptuous, and comforting,” with maraschino cherries and raisny notes, the palate lacks the desired complexity and depth; the balance between sherry and wood flavours, however, seems to please.
- The LA Whisk(e)y Society gives it B’s, noting the various Sherry-influenced flavours but declaring it inferior to the likes of Chivas Royal Salute and Balvenie’s Doublewood. I, however, disagree.