Why Aberlour Derserve More Recognition In The Scotch World
Why Aberlour Deserves More Recognition in The Scotch World
Built near the confluence of two rivers, and named after the town it is located in, the Aberlour Distillery is best described as one of the Speyside’s hidden treasures. Most single malt distilleries in the region enjoy a glamorous identity, and have enjoyed much mainstream success. Aberlour, the quaint little distillery built by James Fleming, has always preferred to stay grounded, modestly producing one of Scotland’s most critically acclaimed single malts.
If you haven’t heard much about Aberlour until today, we wouldn’t blame you. The people at Aberlour have a saying, “Substance over style.” This sheds light on the distillery’s ethos of dedicating themselves to the craft, and a close-knit community that shares the same passion.
The Aberlour Distillery has always retained its humility even though it is one of the most critically beloved single malt Scotch whiskies ever distilled. It has enjoyed modest amounts of success commercially, yet it has never strayed from what they believe in.
Aberlour is a seriously underrated single malt, and not many people believe how it does not get the respect or fame that it certainly deserves. Case in point, ask any veteran whisky lover about Aberlour, and you will hear praises galore. Now ask someone that hasn’t quite cut their teeth yet, and you will see what we mean.
The world of whisky is populated by many that do not go beyond the name brands, and often are wary about trying something new. They more often than not stick with the Johnnies and the Jacks, and may have never heard of Aberlour either. Seeing as it doesn’t nearly get the amount of recognition it clearly deserves, allow us to introduce you to Aberlour, one of our beloved single malt Scotch whiskies here at The Whiskypedia.
The Aberlour Distillery was established by James Fleming in 1879. He had previously worked at the Dailuiane Distillery near Strathspey, gathering enough experience over a decade.
Fleming was a respected man in the community for his actions such as building the Penny Bridge over the river Spey after a young boy lost his life. The Aberlour Distillery has always shared a close, familial bond with the workers and craftsmen who worked at the distillery. Even the barley used to distil the wonderful Aberlour single malt is locally grown and sourced.
The Aberlour A’bunadh with the Penny Bridge in the background
Aberlour’s motto, “Let The Deed Show” are words Fleming strongly preached his entire life, and those are the words he left behind as his legacy at the distillery. The company claims “This saying simply translates as, ‘actions speak louder than our words’. James Fleming let his whisky do the talking.”
The Aberlour Single Malt
The copper stills have a considerable influence on the characteristics of a whisky, and all distilleries have their own uniquely shaped copper stills. Speyside giants like The Glenlivet are renowned for their massive lantern-shaped copper stills, whereas Glenmorangie from the Highlands are famous for tall stills. Macallan, another successful Speyside distillery, are known for their short, onion-shaped stills, and the Aberlour Distillery have wide-bottom, swan-neck shaped copper stills.
These unique stills are used for distillation of the spirit, and Aberlour is well-known to only use the ‘heart’ of the spirit. The distilled spirit is divided into three parts – the head, the heart and the tail. The ‘heart’ of the spirit is considered to be the most desirable. Aberlour return the head and the tail of the spirit back to the still, only using the heart for the next step – maturation.
The Double Cask Perfection
Once distillation is completed, the precious heart of the distillate is now ready to be matured. Here lies the most important part of what puts the Aberlour single malt a cut above the rest.
They are one of the few brands to have mastered the art of cask maturation, and found the combination that fits the Aberlour style perfectly.
All three expressions from the Aberlour core range are matured in two types of casks, first-fill American ex-Bourbon casks and Spanish ex-Oloroso Sherry butts. These are handpicked by the Aberlour Master Distiller, Graeme Cruickshank, and they are brought in from USA and Jerez, Spain. Not only are these casks rare, and very expensive, they are also nosed individually before being declared fit to mature Aberlour’s breath-taking single malt.
Aberlour’s characteristic Speyside character is honed, nourished and elevated to irresistible goodness after it sinks deep into the wood, drawing every bit of the flavour and aroma from it. The creamy vanilla, caramelized wood and toasted coconut flavours of the American Oak, and fruity, sweet and spicy character of the Oloroso Sherry butts are married with meticulous precision to make the Aberlour flavour.
The Aberlour Core Range
Every aspect of the Aberlour style is different from most single malt Scotch whiskies, and that applies to their inventory too. The Aberlour core range is made up of just three expressions, the Aberlour 12 Year Old, Aberlour 16 Year Old and Aberlour 18 Year Old. They have also annually released a limited series of a no-age-statement small-batch, cask strength single malt, the A’bunadh. We know those are a lot of attributes, but if you try the A’bunadh, you will be blown away.
Like most single malt brands, the standard Aberlour is a 12 Year Old which incidentally isn’t like most single malt brands at all. A mainstay on pretty much every great single malt list, it has won a string of Gold and Silver medals at numerous global whisky competitions. Incredibly rich, full-bodied and with an intense fruity, sweet and spicy Sherry influence, the Aberlour 12 is a dream come true for lovers of Sherried Scotch. It is one of our favourite 12 Year Old single malt Scotch whiskies, and cannot be more highly recommended.
We move to the 16 Year Old Aberlour, a step up from the 12 Year Old with an extra four years of maturation. The Aberlour 16 is a recent release from the company, but has successfully managed to enthral Aberlour loyalists with equal poise. While the 12 Year Old is a more balanced and mellow result of the Sherry sweet and spice, the 16 Year Old is gently spicier. Equally rich, full-bodied and with a gorgeous mouthfeel, it ends with a mesmerizing long finish.
The 18 Year Old Aberlour is decadence, and there is no other word that could do justice to this auburn liquid gold. It was once only the French that enjoyed this luxurious 18 Year Old single malt, but Aberlour decided to share it with the world in 2008. Bursting with rich dried fruity flavours, salted caramel, Christmas spice, creamy vanilla and a hint of orange peel. This is not a whisky that comes along often, and Aberlour have created something extraordinary here.
The A’bunadh, which translates to ‘the original’, is a no-age-statement small-batch single malt first launched in 1997. It is released annually in limited numbers, and has developed an astonishing amount of cult success. This is a casks strength Scotch, and was created in honour of founder James Fleming.
Aberlour have not opted for chill filtration, and this whisky has been matured completely in Oloroso Sherry barrels which coupled with everything about this one, delivers a really potent whisky. There is an explosion of warming Sherry flavours and aromas, thick and creamy texture and a long, long finish. The A’bunadh is really something else.
If you have only just begun your journey into this fascinating world, or have somehow spend years cultivating this hobby but have missed out on getting yourself a bottle of Aberlour, we hope you won’t be thinking twice about it again.
Aberlour represents the paradox of being an unexplored territory of single malt Scotch whiskies, from the Speyside, arguably one of the most well-known and mainstream territories of whisky making.