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Thursday, June 6, 2024

One bourbon cask Aberlour, One sherry cask Aberlour

I've never been a fan of Aberlour's house sherried style, preferring independently-bottled ex-bourbon cask versions. So if you never see another A'bunadh here, don't be shocked. I do have a sample of a distillery exclusive sherried thing, and I'm not sure why I do, but it presents an opportunity to try it alongside an indie single hoggie.

First up, the Indie Aberlour. Possibly the oldest Aberlour I've tried from this distillery, this cask was bottled up after 26 years by a company that has a grand total of two whiskies in Whiskybase, so it's sort of an unknown quantity, which I like.

Distillery: Aberlour
Ownership: Pernod Ricard
Region: Speyside (Banffshire)
Bottler: Houston Bottling & Co-Pack
Range: Cooper's Gold
Age: 26 years (1989-2015)
Maturation: hogshead
Cask #: 11040
Outturn: 274 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 51.1%
(Courtesy of My Annoying Opinions. Thank you, sir!)


The nose starts off bright and fresh, with lemon peel, Fuji apples, anise, and cilantro. Hints of oats and vanilla extract appear later in the background. The palate is mildly sweet with a lot of toasted oak up front. Bitter herbs and earth meet a slight but persistent metallic note. It finishes herbal and metallic, with hints of peppercorns and hay.

DILUTED to ~46%abv, or ½-¾ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

A very different nose now, with mint toothpaste, orange bubblegum, wood polish, and unripe peaches. It's woodier on the palate, more tannic and acidic, with a lemon vinaigrette note in the back. It finishes tangy, acidic, minty, and woody.


Though its color is as light as straw, the whisky has been overtaken by American oak to the point that it's missing the honeyed fruits that I seek out in bourbon cask Aberlours. The nose is great at times when a few fruits win the battle, but the whisky doesn't swim particularly well, especially on the palate. It's not a bad sipper when neat, but it's never particularly memorable.

Availability - Secondary market?
Pricing - ???
Rating - 84 (neat only)

Now, the official sherry creature, bottled in March 2022 as a distillery exclusive. It seems to be part of a big batch with a the bottle outturn in the thousands.

Distillery: Aberlour
Ownership: Pernod Ricard
Region: Speyside (Banffshire)
Age: at least 11 years old (bottled 03.2022)
Maturation: Oloroso casks
Outturn: ???? bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 49.4%
(from a bottle split)


Good start here on the nose. Walnuts, brine, dried cherries, Fig Newtons, and a hint of tar mix together well. Quieter notes of dried apples and new leather float around. It all gets fudgier with time. Almonds, hops, and very tangy citrus fill the palate's foreground. It gets much sweeter and bitterer with time. Mint candy, mixed nuts, and tannin finish it off.

DILUTED to ~46%abv, or ½ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

The nose loses its uniqueness, taking on black raisins, marzipan, golden raisins, carob, and a minor floral note. The palate is nothing but cinnamon syrup, stale nuts, and bitter bitter bitter oak. It finishes the same way.


Aside the bitter oak, there's nothing really wrong with this whisky. But there's also not much that's really right about it, with the neat nose being the lone exception. On the whole, it feels generic, interchangeable with scores of other distilleries' large batch sherry cask releases. Thus it fits in with the OB Aberlour style that doesn't offer much that can't be had elsewhere.

Availability - Might still be around...
Pricing - ???
Rating - 80