...where distraction is the main attraction.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Single Malt Report: Aultmore 5 year old 2007 Master of Malt

This bottling interested me ever since I first saw it online two years ago.  At 66.8% it would have been my most alcoholled (not a word) Scotch whisky.  I'm sure I'm not the only degenerate for whom that is a lure.  But not a whole damned bottle, mind you, I'm not an arsonist.

Alexander Edward had Aultmore built in 1896.  He already owned Benrinnes and Craigellachie, and two years later his company would take over Oban, so it sounds like he was having a good time during the Pattison years.  He rode through the bust that followed, but when the next drop came along, in 1923, he sold Aultmore, Benrinnes, and Oban to John Dewar & Sons. (My god, you just typed Dohn Jewer, you bastard.)  Dewar, Walker, and Buchanan merged together with Distillers Company Limited (DCL) in order to sweat out the dark times.  More than seventy years later, DCL (now called Diageo) sold the Dewar's properties to Bacardi Inc.  And that is who milks Aultmore for its Dewars blends to this day.  Somewhere on this planet there's an old official 12 year old, though Bacardi is releasing a couple new officials next month.  That could be a good thing since it can be a little difficult to find indie Aultmores.

And that brings me to this independent bottling, a single super-young cask from Master of Malt.  Let's see if this hot stuff tops yesterday's Aultmore.

The one on the right this time.  I reviewed the one on the left yesterday.

Distillery: Aultmore
Owner: Bacardi Inc.
Independent Bottler: Master of Malt
Age: 5 years (March 2007 - May 2012)
Maturation: first fill sherry puncheon (probably made of American oak)
Type: Single Malt
Region: Speyside (Banffshire)
Alcohol by Volume: 66.8%
Limited Release: 628 bottles
(Sample purchased by yours truly.)

Though the whisky is only 5 years old, the first-fill cask has given it some color, a medium gold.  The nose isn't as spirity as I'd anticipated.  In fact there's less ethyl than yesterday's TBWC bottling.  An intense caramel note arrives first, then stays for the whole trip.  There are some very defined cereal notes, along with cotton candy and confectioner's sugar.  Both flower and flour notes.  Butter, Milk Duds, taffy, and a hint of prunes.  Its palate is raw and hot.  Just grains and herbs at first: oats, barley, hops, and juniper.  Then comes cinnamon, caramel, sour lemon candy, and graphite.  Grains and herbs again in the finish.  Also some tart citrus and a moment of pine.

How about we wet this fire?

WITH WATER (approx. 47%abv)
Oh man, at first the nose is all sea salt caramel gelato.  Then gradually out come notes of peaches and oranges, flower blossoms and pastry dough.  Very desserty, especially with the dusting of confectioner's sugar.  But the palate spins a different tale.  Wood plank, graphite, and burnt paper.  Caramel meets Tanqueray-like herbals.  Cinnamony rye-like new make.  It finishes with barley, caramel, stale cookies, and graphite.

The smell and taste exist in two completely different realms.  The nose is vibrant.  Hell, it's fantastic.  But the palate is nothing but very rough new make.  I'm not saying that MoM only nosed this cask before they bought it, but this would be a good example of the dangers of only nosing something before buying and bottling it.

For a different point of view, see Serge's review.  He found his to be all oak.  All those palate references to bourbon, coconut, vanilla, and sweetness were very foreign to what I tried.  Yeah, I found some caramel and wood plank, but everything else was grains and herbs and graphite.  Though, I think we'd agree that there's no integration between the wood and spirit in the palate.

To me the nose is so good that I would definitely drink this again, if offered.  But the palate is less than half baked so I'm not disappointed that I only bought a sample**.

Availability - Master of Malt (though it's sold out)
Pricing - Was $55ish w/o VAT, before shipping; around $80 w/shipping
Rating - 80

**Looking at the difference between my notes and those of Serge and a few whiskybasers, there is an undeniable gap in our palate notes.  Others get lots of buttery oak, and I found rough spirit.  IF this is difference is due to another dud sample, then it would bring up an interesting issue.  If the IF is true, then 40% of the samples I've bought of Master of Malt's own indie bottling ranges may have been corrupted or gone bad.  On the other hand, my problem rate with the non-MoM-bottling samples I've purchased from Master of Malt?  4% (2 out of 50).  I find it odd that the samples of their own releases have had a possible fail rate ten times that of their samples of everyone else's whiskies.  Is it the whiskies themselves or is it a problem in their sample bottling approach?  My friends who bottle their samples while standing over their kitchen sink have had a 0% problem rate.  As I mentioned in a comment section last week, as of last year I am no longer buying samples from MoM.  Aside from the high shipping costs and exchange rate being issues, I've noticed that at least 1 in 4 samples have a noticeably lower fill level than the rest.  And now there's this new possible problem.  Because I do have faith in their non-MoM-bottling samples, I will review my remaining samples until they are gone.  If I start noticing issues with those samples, then I'll have to make a difficult reviewing decision about one of my favorite sources.


  1. I don't know how much Bacardi paid Diageo for the Dewar's distilleries but it must have been huge since those five distilleries were never closed like others of that era. My theory is that Port Ellen, Brora, Rosebank, etc. were never sold off because either the potential buyers were too few or Diageo didn't want competition (at that time). I mean if I had the cash I would totally buy and restart Port Ellen as a craft distillery like Kilchoman.

    Speaking of blending malts, I was totally shocked to see the Davids grabbed a Glenburgie from Signatory. Pernod primarily uses Glenburgie as malt filler but like Benrinnes, it's an underrated and unsung distillery (technically I'd have added Mortlach in that same sentence but that ain't true anymore).

    1. I like when they grab lesser known distilleries and I think Signatory has a bunch of those sorts of casks. And I hope the Davids keep doing it. The challenge is selling something like Glenburgie. Driscoll has to turn the hype machine up to 11 (or 12, at this point). If these don't sell, then that might demotivate the D's bosses from okaying third-tier distillery buys in the future.