Aultmore is one of my favourite distilleries. Located in Keith, Banffshire – in the heart of Speyside – it gets its water from the peat-imbued springs of the Foggie Moss, and its spirit is rated top class by blenders. (I’ve written more about the background before, if you’re interested.)
Though Aultmore releases have largely been the domain of independent bottlers until late, the distillery’s character has consistently offered something different to whisky drinkers. A light touch. Something other than just peat and sherry dominated whiskies, and towards the subtleties of grassy, herbal or pastry-like flavours. (I’ve often thought that people who enjoy wine might find Aultmore a nice stepping stone to whisky.) Old Aultmore – and in my opinion Aultmore that has lived in sherry casks – is utterly sublime.
The Last Great Malts range, released by John Dewar’s & Sons (owned by Bacardi), brought official Aultmore bottles back to the table. And they were very good indeed. The packaging was splendid too, though not quite as amazing as this Aultmore label that features a velociraptor eating a shark.
The Aultmore 18 Year Old is an addition to the new core range, and I believe there will be more to come with each of these Last Great Malts distilleries over the years. It’s bottled at 46% ABV, which is a very good bottling strength, in my opinion.
On the nose: fresh lemon juice, vanilla, custard creams. Apricots. Hay. Simple, varied, very pleasant and elegant. American White Oak casks, rather than European Oak though, if this is sherry-cask influenced as some people note.
In the mouth: yes, all of the above. Green tea, with that gentle grassy bitterness. All subtle shades here: lemon, apples, Chardonnay, maltiness, orange zest – just a touch – and then some creamy lemon pudding concoction. This whisky really is delightfully fresh, and the flavours are very tightly bound but rewarding. Worth a side note on the texture here, which is remarkable. It’s voluptuous, for an Aultmore. A very nice whisky.
It isn’t a huge step away from the Aultmore 12 Years Old, which I think is very good for the price. It’s less wild, and more… well, grown up I guess. I don’t think it’s really significant enough of an evolution. Being honest, I think the blending of Aultmores – the combination of malts – could have been a little more daring and creative to distance this from the 12, but maybe that’s not the point of planning a carefully defined series or house style.
It’s still tasty though. The Aultmore 18 Years Old is largely available in France, so I guess this is one for travellers and no doubt frequenters of online auctions. Bottles cost around 115 Euros. Given that many of the later bottlings in this epic Last Great Malts series have been significantly cheaper, I can’t help but think had the Aultmores been last to come out of the stables, you’d be paying much less for them too.
Edit: I also spotted this for sale in Duty Free, so it isn’t just France then. It also cost around £80 which is a bit more like it.