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Friday, April 18, 2014

Single Malt Report: Aberlour 22 year old 1990 Exclusive Malts

Welcome to the fourth Friday of simultaneous whisky reviews between Diving for Pearls and My Annoying Opinions.  The first three Fridays reviews were of bottles we had split.  Today's whisky is from a bottle that MAO owns and shared with me in a sample swap.  Thanks, MAO!  (And here's the direct link to his review.)

It's a first-fill bourbon barrel Aberlour from Exclusive Malts.  If you're a fan of Aberlour's official sherried releases, I encourage you to seek out a taste of an indie ex-bourbon release of their malt.  They're usually very honeyed.  Before this one, I'd had three ex-bourbon Aberlours.  I loved two, the other (reviewed here) was so-so.  So this is my fourth, the first of which is confirmed to be from a first fill cask.

Information and reviews on this bottling are difficult to find online.  The crowd-sourced Whiskybase folks love it, but that's all I've really been able to glean.  With a mere 129 bottles from this barrel (probably having lost half the original contents to the angels), there might not have been much to go around.  In any case, hopefully MAO and I can contribute a little more to the Internetwhiskysphere.

Distillery: Aberlour
Independent Bottler: The Creative Whisky Co. Ltd.
Series: Exclusive Malts
Age: 22 years (distilled on October 30, 1990)
Maturation: First Fill Bourbon (probably) Barrel
Region: Speyside (Banffshire)
Cask #: 16972
Bottles: 129
Alcohol by Volume: 51.5%

The color is a deep, almost brownish, gold.  The nose is a bakery.  Vanilla extract, lemon peel, butter cookies, and angel food cake first.  It's still a bit hot at its age.  With some more air, the whisky releases notes of fresh flowers, cookie batter, orange peel, and cream of wheat.  There's also a bourbony woodiness, think barrel char and hot spices.  The palate is very creamy in texture and flavor.  A dark brown paste made of brown sugar and honey.  A lime tartness and some cracked pepper to go with the barley.  After some air, subtle peach notes develop, as does a pinch of cinnamon and cardamom.  That little bit of peach continues into the finish, along with the pepper and tartness.  Some vanilla from the oak.  Still there's a lot of barley singing through it.

Now there's peach yogurt, orange Pixie Stix, hay, and a minerally champagne in the nose.  The palate is much saltier.  The sweetness picks up after a moment.  More citrus now too.  The finish gets milder.  Tangy oranges and a hint of wood smoke.

The nose is gorgeous.  The palate is fine, but let's get back to the nose.  It is at turns pretty, comforting, and makes one want cake ahora mismo.  The whole package still has a youthful nip to it which isn't necessarily bad, it just needs to be aired out.  With water, the nose changes but remains entertaining.  The palate thins out.  So, I recommend it neat.  Sometimes it seems like the perfect single malt for bourbon fans with its big American oak notes, but at other times the malt spirit stands in front.

Even though the palate doesn't knock me out the way the nose does, this proves to be another fun ex-bourbon Aberlour.  The folks who rated it on Whiskybase think it's the bee's knees, with my score being the lowest, so this was definitely a beloved barrel.

Availability - Here, and that's about it
Pricing - At least $120, with shipping
Rating - 86 (but the nose is super!)