Aberlour is a Speyside distillery located in the wilds of north-east Scotland, “at the junction of the Rivers Lour and Spey”. If only I commuted to work through junctions like that. The distillery is well over a hundred years old, being founded by James Fleming in 1879 but these days, like most distilleries, it is owned by a much bigger company – in this case, Pernod Ricard.
Bottled at 43%, the Aberlour 16 Year Old is bit of a classic, and no mistake. Double-matured in traditional oak and sherry casks, it’s become a favourite of many and has won a fair few awards. I’ve been going through a bit of a sherry bomb phase so last month I bought a bottle as a treat.
Colour: like a mahogany sideboard. On the nose: butterscotch, toffee, maple syrup, raisins. Very, very slight cheesy mustiness, which I happen to love.
In the mouth: one of those where the texture hits you first. Swing this around the mouth and you get amazing velvety goodness. Not as sweet as you first expect, mind you, but you’ll find it’s certainly syrupy. Actually more honey than syrup. Pretty mild on those flavours, though very complex at the same time if you see what I mean. It unfolds slowly. Hold it on your tongue and there we have it: barley notes, oak spices, the honey more obvious now, cloves, pepper – though not much. A wave of almost elderflower sweetness that drifts into something vegetative. Not as plummy as some at this end of the spectrum, nor as sweet, weirdly, but bloody good nonetheless.
A classic, certainly, but not quite the best in the world. However, this seriously is one of those benchmark drams – a staple you return to again and again. The Aberlour 16 Year Old is fantastic value at around £40 a bottle. Surely a staple for your cabinet.