Aberlour distillery is situated in the Speyside town of Aberlour (Banffshire) and was founded in 1879 by James Fleming.  The distillery had to be rebuilt after a fire in 1898 which destroyed the buildings and much of the warehoused stock.

Aberlour produces 3.2 million litres of pure alcohol per year and casks at a strength of 63.5% abv, with the main bottled expressions being 10y, 12y, 16y & A'Bunadh.

General whisky characteristics: Complex, nutty sherry

 
  Photo by Y. Kohno, used via Wikimedia Creative Commons License   Some more great distillery info here, thanks to Malt Madness  

 

 

Aberlour "The Ages"

   
   

Aberlour, 10y, 40% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Nose: Definite hints of currants and raisins, with a touch of wood and sherry.

Palate: A little thinner than I expected, but not exactly watery. It is also very smooth with a great mouth-feel. The flavours I immediately sensed were somewhere between nuts and raisins, but they soon dispersed as the finish is quite short.

Overall Impression: A nice standard sherried dram.

 

   
   

Aberlour, 12y, 43% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Dark oak, light amber

Nose: Aged oak and lots of dominating the nose for some minutes until traces of raisins, currants and figs begin to develop. Is there a sprig of rosemary in there too?

Palate: Dark fruits in the foreground with a slight hint of raspberry, or perhaps even apricot in the background. Some traces of nuts and marzipan too.

Finish: Long with a creamy nuttiness.

Overall Impresison: Thoroughly enjoyable.

The above review is from May 2011 and of the current presentation as depicted. The review below is from 2008 and of the previous presentation which was similar in design to the 10y expression on this page.

Nose: This is more pronounced than the 10y, with a nose including slightly stronger raisins and just a hint of marzipan.

Palate: This has a little more of a bite with a slight tingle on the very front of the tongue. The flavours are again those of currants and raisins, with a touch more nuttiness in the aftertaste. The 12y certainly has a longer finish than the 10y.

Overall Impression: Nice, a slight improvement on the 10y, by which I mean deeper flavours and longer finish.

 

   
   

Aberlour, 16y, 43% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Glowing amber

Nose: Slightly sweet perfumed wood with a hint of candy floss and maybe even coconut, but this (coconut) soon fades to be replaced with dark cherries marinated in cream sherry. In fact on second thoughts this could be more of a dry (Amontillado) sherry.

Palate: That coconut certainly repeats on the palate and is joined by cherries, dry sherry and slightly musty wood.

Finish: Very long, slightly dry.

Overall Impresison: Nice flavours but somehow that dryness is not quite .......?

The above review is from May 2011 and of the current presentation as depicted. The review below is from 2008 and of the previous presentation which was similar in design to the 10y expression on this page.

Nose: Mmmmm, there's more aroma here, slightly perfumed too. This bodes well, a nice aromatic 16y sherry cask! There are more nuts and marzipan here than were present in the previous two Aberlours (10y & 12y)

Palate: This is much more robust. Creamy and rich, not at all as thin as the previous two. The flavour is also more rounded, more of a complete Christmas cake with much more (dark) fruit alongside the nuts, raisins, currants and marzipan. This is almost a mild Christmas pudding, not a cake!

Overall Impression: This one I like much more than the previous two. It is much more rounded in character and more complex too. It 'feels' more like a good sherry cask dram.

 

   
   

Aberlour, 18y, 43% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Rich amber, almost teak.

Nose: For just a split second I detected a hint of freshly struck match (sulphur?), but it quickly disappeared to leave wood and leather over something fruity and bitter-sweet. The more I study this bitter-sweetness the more I am reminded of blood oranges.

Palate: A creamy mouth-feel with lots of wood and dark chocolate infused with oil of orange is followed by treacle toffee.

Finish: Very long with that dark chocolate and oil of orange returning.

Overall Impresison: I was initially concerned by that quick burst of sulphur, but unnecessarily so as it quickly disappeared, not to return. A very good whisky.

The above review is from May 2011 and of the current presentation as depicted. The review below is from 2008 and of the previous presentation which was similar in design to the 10y expression on this page.

Nose: that's better, everything from the 16y, but just a little richer and more intense.

Palate: A much better feel in the mouth, very rich, smooth and creamy with very pronounced dark fruits, currants, raisins and some hints of marzipan. The finish is also not as dry as the 12y & 16y.

Overall Impression: Good, I like this.

 

   
 

Conclusions of the Head-to-Head comparison (older presentations):

This is quite difficult. I found the 10y quite thin, the 12y slightly better and then the 16y & 18y much better. Which do I like the most? It's really hard to choose between the 16y and 18y. The 16y is perhaps slightly more complex, the 18y slightly deeper and richer. I think the 18y would be a great Christmas dram after lunch, whereas the 16y is more of an 'anytime' dram. The 18y leans more towards the infamous A'Bunadh, but it is still a million miles away, if you can understand that. Related yes, but distantly so.

 
   

Aberlour, 12y, 48% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed as part of MMA 2011

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Dark oak - amber

Nose: Hints of barn and grassy vanilla. Then peaches and cream after a few minutes. There's plenty happening, but always lightly and subdued.

Palate: Peaches and cream indeed, now with some black peppercorn to accompany. Rich oak, red grapes and light almond lead into the finish.

Finish: Long and fruity rich wood.

Overall Impresison: A really quite different Aberlour flavour profile, but the higher abv also helps this become a very good whisky.

 

   
   

Aberlour, 16y, 43% ABV

Double Cask Matured - Traditional oak cask & sherry cask

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed as part of MMA 2011

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Rich dark oak

Nose: Initially extremely faint and subdued. Lightest hint of bread dough and plain potato crisps. Really not too much happening here.

Palate: Immediately much richer and more intense than the nose with almonds, raisins and poppy seed cake. A very gentle and smooth mouth-feel.

Finish: Medium to long with fruits and nuts.

Overall Impresison: Most enjoyable and extremely interesting, just not stunning.

 

   
   

Aberlour, 18y, 43% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed as part of MMA 2011

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Rich oak, almost cherry wood

Nose: An initially slightly unbalanced mixture needs a  little time to settle, after which it offers wood, fresh herbal countryside and a summer flower garden in full bloom, but always with that wood in the background.

Palate: Smooth wood with banana stem and vanilla, a slightly floral background and hints of my favourite olde worlde sweet shoppe.

Finish: Light and gently floral wood.

Overall Impresison: Very good, pretty wel lexcellent. I love the depth and lightness here.

 

   

 

     

Aberlour, A'bunadh, Distillery only, 'Fill your Own', Cask Strength

First fill (single) sherry cask, distilled 5.1993, filled 4.2007

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Teak, dark amber

Nose: Very interesting with cloves, wood, mixed nuts and sherry-marinated currants and figs.

Palate: Initially a burst of figs, raisins and plums, followed by sherry and lightly floral wood. Then marshmallow suddenly appears to lead everything into the finish.

With 5 drops of water: Lots more 'sparkle' on the nose with more fruit and just a hint of the dentist's surgery. The palate has found more wood and also some leather as a partner for it.

5 More drops of water: The nose is now less intense and somewhat flatter, whereas the palate has more pepper and plenty of flora.

Finish: Long with that marshmallow and much longer and more peppery with the water.

Overall Impression: Excellent, gentle and subtle in a rich kind of way. It benefitted from some water, but not too much!

 

   

 

 

 

Aberlour A'Bunadh

Sherry cask matured, cask strength, individual 'batches'

 

 

   

Aberlour, A'bunadh, No Batch Number, 59.6% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Pictures shown left are Batch #20, but this is a similar A'Bunadh presentation

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Shining rich amber

Nose: Raisins, plums, black cherries and more than a hint of well polished antique oak dining table with a slightly perfumed background.

Palate: Leather, wood and dark fruits (as in the nose), followed by peppery butterscotch as it expands across the palate.

With 5 drops of water: A little more perfumed polish on the nose, whilst the palate is smoother with less pepper and much more flora.

5 More drops of water: Lots more wood and leather on the nose whilst the palate is now delightfully smooth.

Finish: Initially very long but this shortens as water is added.

Overall Impression: Thoroughly enjoyable, massive depth of flavour but not overly complex.

 

   
   

Aberlour, A'bunadh, Batch #6, 59.4% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Pictures shown left are Batch #20, but this is the same A'Bunadh presentation

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Clear, golden teak

Nose: I'm straight back into a favourite childhood sweetshop! In fact it's even fitted with old oak panelling. The aromas from this one are filled with lots of sweet fruitiness from the times when things weren't all packed in plastic bags and a pick & mix counter was totally open. I specifically detect lots of flora, oak, even my favourite (Kiwi) leather shoe polish and hints of rich orange (oil) followed by the slightest hint of Colombian coffee beans, all alongside the fruity sweets.

Palate: Leather, oak and very intense dark fruits with a suggestion of mixed nuts too. This is really quite floral in a very rich way as it gently leads into the finish.

With 5 drops of water: Can this already aromatic nose have intensified so much more? It certainly seems to have done so! The palate is smoother with even more emphasis on the fruits.

5 More drops of water: The nose is now slightly less floral, but it has more wood and even a hint of smoke appears from the background. The palate offers fruit, wood then mixed nuts, in this order of appearance.

Finish: Very long and intense, even longer with water.

Overall Impression: Brilliant depth and character, I really love this one!

 

   
   

Aberlour, A'bunadh, Batch #10, 59.3% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Pictures shown left are Batch #20, but this is the same A'Bunadh presentation

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Slightly dulled teak

Nose: Now here's a strange sensation as I detect fine old oak alongside an element of polish, but more car polish than furniture. Have I just polished an oak table with car polish? It certainly seems so. Then, in a basket in the middle of the table I also detect fresh currants, raisins and prunes.

Palate: That basket of fruit has just turned into a dark-fruit cocktail with black cherries also now included and all marinated in a marzipan liqueuer.

With 5 drops of water: This now has an even richer nose which includes slightly smoky wood. The palate is even smoother.

5 More drops of water: Now the nose retrieves that polish in a very intense way alongside more leather which also joins slightly more intense old oak on the palate.

Finish: Long

Overall Impression: Very good, but somehow I feel there's just a little 'something' missing from somewhere within this batch.

 

   
   

Aberlour, A'bunadh, Batch #18, 57.5% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Pictures shown left are Batch #20, but this is the same A'Bunadh presentation

 
 

Glass: Glencairn

Colour: Polished teak

Nose: Very smooth (if one can say that about aroma?) Aromatic nuts and marzipan with a good amount of slightly spicy Alpine meadow, with not a hint of sulphur. This is just a how sherry-cask whisky should be.

Palate: Some pepper and spices make this what I would call a very slightly intrusive whisky, although the flavours of raisins and currants are quite light. This seems to need some water.

With 4 drops of water: Much more aromatic on the nose with a smoother palate as the pepper and spice fades a little and hints of wood are brought to the fore.

4 More drops of water: Nuts and wood come to the fore of the nose but the slightest hint of violet joins them to make this an excellent experience.

4 Further drops of water: Even more aromatic, floral and complex as the whisky opens even more to release a very smooth delight of wood, faint violet and a slightly spicy, more floral palate.

Finish: Initially very long but this shortens as water is added.

Overall Impression: Very good, nay, excellent. Just a wonderfully complex sherry-cask whisky.

 

   
   

Aberlour, A'bunadh, Batch #20, 60.5% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Glass: Bugatti Kelch

Colour: Dark treacle / rich teak

Nose: Jolly alcoholic Christmas Pudding without the custard. (Nuts, raisins, sherry & rich fruits)

Palate: Thick, rich and powerful. An army of rich, dark fruits bursts onto the palate whilst laying a carpet of sherry and wood on the tongue. This is a long and hard-wearing carpet which just doesn't want to leave.

Overall Impression: Take it in small doses as it's rich and very, very powerful. Did I also forget to say Excellent!

 

   
   

Aberlour, A'bunadh, Batch #22, 59.3% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Treacle toffee

Nose: Old oak, leather, dark cherries, alcoholic car polish on a sunny day.

Palate: Rich, very rich. This has aromatic wood, sherry, intense dark fruit and floral hints of cheese.

With 4 drops of water: Slightly lighter and more floral.

Overall Impression: Batch #20 was a 'great', this isn't far behind. Personally, I love it!

 

   
   

Aberlour, A'bunadh, Batch #24, 60.2% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Glass: Bugatti Kelch

Colour: Dark treacle, very rich teak.

Nose: Rich deep currants along with a slight freshness and bitterness.

Palate: Delightfully smooth but not too sweet. Currants and marzipan with faint floral nuances.

With 5 drops of water: Excellent. This has now opened into something delightful.

Overall Impression: Along with many others I rate batch #20 as one of the best A'bunadh batches. This one may not be quite so good, but it isn't far away and is truly magnificent with just a few drops of water. Buy some and try it!

 

   
   

Aberlour, A'bunadh, Batch #29, 59.9% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Pictures shown left are Batch #20, but this is the same A'Bunadh presentation

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Rich Teak

Nose: Rubber plimsoles (gym shoes we used to wear for school sports), floating in an aged oak cask of sherry with dark fruits (currants, prunes & raisins) for company.

Palate: Rich and nutty, currants marinated in marzipan liqueur and just a hint of those plimsoles.

Finish: Long and rich, but where did those parma violets come from? (You know those hard little violet sweets from my childhood).

With 5 drops of water: A more aggressive nose with a little more rubber.  The palate also has a touch more rubber, but lots more wood.

With 4 more drops of water: Once again the wood is intensified more, but the rubber not so much.

Overall Impression: I do like the spectrum of A'Bunadhs and this is no exception, but it is a slightly strange one as it's the first I've found to be suffering from Sulphur with that mixture of rubber and parma violets over the typical dark fruits and nuts. So I guess one has to imagine this as a slightly violet-tinged Christmas cake delivered in a rubber welly.

 

   
   

Aberlour, A'bunadh, Batch #30, 59.8% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Very rich teak.

Nose: Old oak with well-aged Pustertaler cheese served in an aromatic rubber tyre.

Palate: Rich and creamy mouth-feel then the oak and cheese fill the palate before fading to leave a slightly dry combination of dark fruits and berries.

Finish: Medium and sligthly dry.

With 5 drops of water: The nose is slightly lighter and more complex whilst the palate exhibits more of that aromatic wood.

With 4 more drops of water: More dark fruit and wood is coming through to the palate and the finish is not so dry.

Overall Impression: Yet another very good whisky from the A'Bunadh series, but in my opinion, not as good as the astounding batch #20 and slightly behind the excellent #24, but don't worry, it's still very good and a very traditional, high quality sherried whisky.

 

   
   

Aberlour, A'bunadh, Batch #30, 59.8% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed as part of MMA 2011

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Dark sunny amber

Nose: Immediate hints of Pirelli P0 which fades over time to release light smoky wood and some hints of sea-air.

Palate: Definitely lots happening on the palate with creamy dark fruits, aged oak, lightly smoked, black peppercorn and toasted malt.

Finish: Very long, rich, slightly peppery

Overall Impression: Extremely good whisky and better received than when I last tried it. In fact 5 points better!

 

   
 

 

 

Aberlour, A'bunadh, Batch #39, 59.8% ABV

Oloroso sherry butts

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed (blind) as part of MMA 2012

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Dark amber / teak

Nose: Intense furniture and car polish, very clean and fresh. Then there's a sweet woodiness and what I can only describe as a lightly floral or gently perfumed earthiness. Lovely.

Palate: Extremely rich and earthy with suggestions of fresh coffee beans and dark chocolate alongside a rich (dark) fruitiness (cherries, raisins?) This is lingering, repeating and glowing, very nice.

Finish: Will it ever end?

Overall Impression: Rich but yet delicately floral, light, complex and very sophisticated. A truly stunning after-dinner malt and be sure to have good coffee and chocolate nearby too. I love this A'Bunadh.

 

   
 

 

Aberlour, A'bunadh, Batch #41, 59% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Deep amber

Nose: Rich red wine, brandy or cognac, rubber and behind it all a suggestion of fruity wood.

Palate: Curiously tingly (or even pervasively tingly) mouth-feel offers a dryness alongside slightly bitter raisins and nuttiness. There's also some of that fruitiness from the nose, but it struggles for any assertiveness.

With 4 Drops of water: Suddenly the nose is filled with lightly sour cream or a curdled milkiness with some fruity woodiness once again in the background. The palate now makes me think of a strangely fruity furniture polish and crθme brulee.

With 4 more drops of water: The nose offers more of the same but the fruitiness is now a little more prominent, thankfully. As for the palate; the less said the better now.

Finish: Long, much too long.

Overall Impression: Paddington gave an extra special stare. Something's just not quite right here.

 

   

 

 

The scale of A'Bunadh

   
 

Whenever Aberlour A'Bunadh is spoken about, there's always an ensuing discussion about which is the best release. Well, from the ones I've tried so far, here is my opinion on the subject and also a very rare chance to see me offering scores to whisky, outside of any formal competition.

 
 

Batch #06

90 points

Fantastic depth and character

 
 

Batch #20

89 points

A truly stunning whisky

 
 

Batch #39

89 points

Another truly stunning A'Bunadh

 
 

Batch #18

88 points

Fantastic and better with water.

 
 

Batch #24

87 points

Very, very good.

 
 

No Batch No.

87 points

Very, very good.

 
 

Batch #22

86 points

Another very good A'bunadh.

 
 

Batch #10

83 points

Just a little 'something' missing

 
 

Batch #30

82 points

Needs water. 87 Points when reviewed blind for MMA 2011.

 
 

Batch #29

72 points

Just too much sulphur in this one.

 
 

Batch #41

62 points

Oh dear, Paddington gave an extra special stare.

 

 

  Aberlour-Glenlivet "Some Oldies"    
   

Aberlour-Glenlivet, 8y old square bottle, Gradi 50 (50% abv)

Typical cost of this bottle; Unknown now.

Dram-atics live review

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Amber

Nose: Musty aged wood with some delightfully perfumed elements, but also something a little farmy. After some minutes hints of orange and dark chocolate develop.

Palate: Lots of dark fruits (raisins, currants, figs and plums) but then a suggestion of mocca and dark chocolate leads into the finish.

Finish: Long with slightly peppery orange and dark chocolate.

Overall Impression: Marvellous. Only 8 years old? They don't make them like this any more.

 

   
   

Aberlour-Glenlivet, 12y old square bottle, Pure Malt, 40% abv

Typical cost of this bottle; Unknown now.

Dram-atics live review

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Rich dark oak

Nose: Delightfully perfumed aromatic aged oak, with emphasis on the perfume! After some minutes the wood expands and is joined by butterscotch and creamy toffee.

Palate: Smooth and sweet with wood, candy floss, toffee and just a hints of water melon.

Finish: Long with wood and melon.

Overall Impression: I love it!

 

   

 

  Aberlour IB Independent Bottlings  
   

McNeill's Choice, Aberlour, 16y, 56.2% ABV

Single Cask

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Quite pale yellow gold

Nose: Now here's an unexpected flashback to my younger days in England toasting crumpets over an open fire. This is followed by something less pleasant which I can only describe as a pungent dentist's chair and surgery which is at the same time antiseptic, medicinal and floral.

Palate: Light wood, vanilla, slightly bitter fruit and lemon cheesecake.

Finish: Initially short, but longer on following sips.

With 4 drops of water: A more balanced and aromatic nose without the pungent dentist's chair, but with more wood. The palate is lighter with more fruit which now includes melon served with a generous shake of black pepper.

With 4 more drops of water: Now weaker and lighter nose, whereas the palate is creamier with more fruit and less pepper.

Overall Impression: I was decidedly unimpressed until I added water, then it transformed into something quite un-Aberlour, but pretty good.

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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