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Friday, January 22, 2016

Single Malt Report: Aberlour-Glenlivet "over 8 years old" cubic bottle (early 1970s)

Let's take another step back in time.  For more than 25 years before they bottled their single malts in imitation brandy bottles, Aberlour used cube-shaped bottles, and specifically for the Italian, French, German, and American markets.  There were a number of versions of the cube, but the whisky I'm reviewing today came from a bottle that looks like this:

Another nice bottle pic from TWE

Aberlour shut down their maltings in 1962, so there's a chance that there's some of their own floor malted malt made its way into this specific whisky.  It was a smaller distillery back then too, with only one pair of stills.  And, as this was bottled in the early '70s, Campbell Distilleries was still the owner at the time.

I was able to purchase a good sized sample of this historical whisky with the help of Cobo (thanks, dude!), so I can actually add a little water to this one if it needs it...

Distillery: Aberlour
Ownership at the time: S. Campbell & Sons, Ltd.
Region: Speyside (Banffshire)
Type: Single Malt
Age: "over 8 years"
Maturation: ???
Alcohol by Volume: 50%
Bottling date: early 1970s
Chillfiltered? Probably not
Color added? Probably not

Its color is dark, like older-bourbon-dark, as opposed to dark orange.

The nose is a little closed at first.  Musty, fruity, a little bit of honey, and lots of roses.  It opens with air.  Macintosh apples then caramel apples then back again.  Fried plantains, cocoa, and pears.  I caught a farmy note twice, but it never appeared again.

Very malty palate, like chocolate malt.  Plump raisins, lots of honey, lemons, and a pleasant bitterness.  A polite quantity of sherry.  Some plum wine in the back.  Sometimes a little toffee-ish.  Very thickly textured and packing quite a kick even after 40 years in a bottle.

The very honeyed finish is lightly sweet with a hint of bitterness.  Tingly ginger note meets plum wine and a whiff of sherry.  Very good length.

WITH WATER (~43%abv)
The nose gets farmier, earthier.  Most of the fruit vanishes, though maybe some citrus remains.  Honey, cinnamon, and some baby powder.

The palate becomes much sweeter and gooey.  Dark Belgian Ale (St. Bernardus!).  Ginger beer, toffee, some nutty sherry, and a wee burnt note.

A bright effervescent herbal bitterness meets brown sugar and raisins in the finish.

Easily this week's winning Aberlour, this whisky has tons of the honey note I enjoy so much in independently bottled ex-bourbon cask Aberlours, but it also has just enough good sherry backing it up to broaden the experience.  It got too sweet for me when I added water, so I recommend it neat.  And, yeah, it's definitely "over 8 years old".  Blind, I would have guessed 12-15 years in unobtrusive casks.  So, if somehow you're lucky enough to be stuck having to choose between this bottling or the VOHM brandy bottle at an auction, I'd recommend this one due to the quality of the whisky.  And the bottle is cooler too.

Availability - Secondary market
Pricing - ???
Rating - 87