...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Aultmore 12 year old

In late 2014, Bacardi Limited plopped three (Craigellachie, Royal Brackla and Aultmore) brand new and two rebooted (Macduff "Glen Deveron" and Aberfeldy) single malt ranges onto the scotch market all at once. It was nice to see five un-sexy distilleries' names suddenly appearing on shelves and retailer websites. The launch was called, "The Last Great Malts", a term that carries the weight of sadness and loss, rather than joy. Luckily marketing blather trends towards falsehoods and there have been numerous (three?) great whiskies released since.

I've read a few positive reviews of the Aultmore range, and have meant to try at least one of these whiskies for some time. I've tasted a grand total of two Aultmores before today, so I have no preconceptions about this sample.

Distillery: Aultmore
Ownership: Bacardi Limited (via John Dewar & Sons)
Region: Speyside (Moray)
Age: minimum 12 years
Maturation: refill hogsheads
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No
(from a purchased sample)

The color is gorgeously pale, like me! The nose is almost entirely barley, yeast, soil and wet sand. Some hints of farm and mezcal float about. The palate has a good balance of mild sweetness and mild herbal bitterness. It's very malty, with small notes of bananas, tart citrus, vanilla, roasted seeds and nuts. More barley in the finish, along with grass, pineapple juice, bananas and chili oil.

DILUTED TO ~40%abv, or < 1 tsp of water per 30mL whisky
Now the nose has barley, chalk dust, homemade applesauce and cat piss (for you wine fans). The palate hasn't changed much. There's a madeira-like sweetness to it, as well as plenty of grass and herbs, and something sort of phenolic. The finish is shorter and grassier, with less sweetness.

Clean as whistle, this one. It is, to steal MAO's term, unadorned. Congrats to the blenders for fashioning a single malt that tastes like malt. The 46%abv/NC/NCF presentation need also be highlighted.

There's an absence of excitement to it, and I guess there's something sort of thrilling about that. If you're looking to take a vacation from all the oaky oak that has slithered its way into most modern releases, this whisky is a decent destination. It would be a quality starter malt, in lieu of Glens Fiddich and Livet, but it carries a 50% premium over those whiskies in the US. Is $60 now the going rate of a starter malt?

Availability - Many specialty whisky retailers in Europe and USA
Pricing - $50-$75 (USA), $35-$55 (Europe, ex-VAT)
Rating - 83