Origin: Spesyside (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing barrels: Ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry Oloroso
Added coloring: No
Owner: Pernod Ricard (Chivas Brothers)
Average price: € 55.00
Official website: www.aberlour.com
Aberlour has already been mentioned by Il Bevitore Squattrinato in his review of the much-appreciated A’bunadh, where you can find plenty of information on the history and style of this Speyside distillery.
Today I look at the first and fourth batches of the much-anticipated Casg Annamh (which in Gaelic means “rare cask”), a NAS bottled in small batches, whose ageing is a bit of a mystery. It’s said to be a triple cask in a combination of American and European ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry Oloroso casks of first and second passage.
After the great success of A’bunadh, will Aberlour be able to repeat the miracle?
The colour is a rich natural amber, very inviting.
Despite not being cask strength, the alcoholic note is quite present on the nose. It has a nose, however, that’s very difficult to precisely determine, a little closed and unimpressive. There is a sweet background of barley malt and sultanas, nutmeg, some ethereal notes of essential oils, but little else. Only after a long aeration does a note of juniper berries and orange peel emerge. It’s clear that we are certainly not dealing with a Sherry bomb like its older brother.
The palate has a very interesting entry of caramelised fruit (apple, orange), toffee, roasted nuts, cocoa, and a warm spice that fills the palate.
Unfortunately, the persistence is short and the finish is a little too astringent and woody, leaving only a vague aroma of liquorice and little else. Paradoxically, when the glass is empty, the Sherry note is much more present than when it’s full, probably because of the poorly integrated alcohol.
For me, it’s a bit of a disappointment (but I’m not the only one). The comparison with its older brother is unequal, but even considering the lower price I expected something more characterful: it seems far too young and without a precise identity.
It’s hard to justify a difference of almost twenty euros with the appreciable 12yo standard of the Aberlour family. It’s a shame, but as this is the first batch it’s possible that Aberlour will get it right.
Compared to Batch 1, there are no changes in the processing, but the result is slightly different, which is after all the main characteristic of bottling in several small batches.
It’s very similar in appearance, with perhaps an extra hint of orange.
The nose is decidedly more open, almost brash, with rich vinous notes of sultanas, red liquorice, dates and milk chocolate.
In the mouth, unfortunately, it’s not very convincing, although overall more successful than the first batch: there’s still a little too much alcohol and a little too much wood, but it’s softer and more convincing with orange, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, a youthful sweet note like honeyed cereal, and some vague winy hints of sultanas.
In this batch, too, the finish is short, dry, with honey, spices, and the cereal expanding into a chewy waffle-like sensation.
In short, definitely better than the first, but as far as I’m concerned it still doesn’t shine compared to the Aberlour range.