Aberlour 16 year old double cask

16 years old, 43% ABV, Oloroso and American Oak casks, Speyside, Scotland

The Aberlour distillery is nestled away in the Speyside region of Scotland in the town of Aberlour – a couple of minutes down the road from Craigellachie.

Aberlour 16

Interestingly though, on the package of the 16 year old double cask, Aberlour refer to themselves as both a Highland and Speyside distillery.

Aberlour 16 tube

The bright copper-coloured 16 year old double cask pictured here is a marriage of two different whiskies.

Aberlour take a whisky that’s been maturing for at least 16 years in first-fill Oloroso sherry casks and a whisky that’s been maturing for at least 16 years in first-fill American Oak. The two are then married together for a period of around three months in a marrying tun before being bottled as the 16 year old double cask.

Aberlour 16 seal

Just as you’re about to open the bottle for the first time, you’re met with this little paper seal scribed with a simple description of what you’re about to taste. I think it’s a nice little touch. (In case you’re wondering, the liquid inside does indeed live up to the description – read on)

Did you know…

The town of Aberlour is also the home of Walker’s Shortbread. I don’t know about your part of the world, but at home in Sydney, there always seemed to be a tin or box of Walker’s Shortbread in our house around Christmas time. Might have to pair one with a dram of Aberlour 16 to see how it goes!

Nose

Initially quite fresh and floral – notes of soft vanilla, light spice, green apples, citrus and gentle sweetness. The nose sweetens after some glass/air time with some malty honey notes showing and something a bit zesty and bitter – orange marmalade comes to mind. A pretty well balanced nose in my opinion.

Palate

A nice medium oily mouth feel on entry – it has a nice weight to it for a 43% whisky. Gentle spice and sweetness come out first, followed by some of those citrus/bitter marmalade flavours. The sweetness and vanilla aren’t as strong as I would have expected from the nose, but they’re still there.  Overall, quite light and soft on the palate.

Finish

The 16 year old finishes with medium warmth and light malty sweetness contrasted with a fair bit of oaky bitter spice.

Comments

With little debate, the cask strength A’bunadh is the most well-known and talked about whisky in Aberlour’s current line up. But I think this is a really underrated gem and one that’s definitely worth exploring.

If A’bunadh is the heavyweight bigger brother packed with boisterous pointed flavours, then the 16 year old double cask is its nimbler sibling with rounder, softer, more harmonious flavours. A well-made high quality whisky at a pretty good price point.

If you’re a fan of A’bunadh and have been wondering about the other offerings in the Aberlour stable – maybe it’s time you gave the 16 year old double cask a go.

As a random side note, this bottle has to have the best sealing cork I’ve come across!

Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban

12 years old, 46% ABV, American Oak and Ruby port pipes, Northern Highlands, Scotland

Around 2008, Glenmorangie released what we now know as the current range of  ‘extra-matured’ whiskies. The range of three includes Lassanta (finished in ex- oloroso sherry casks), Nectar d’Or (finished in sweet French sauternes wines casks) and this one, Quinta Ruban which has been finished in Portuguese ruby port pipes.

Quinta Ruban

To arrive at these ‘extra-matured’ whiskies, Glenmorangie start with their standard 10 year old, which has been resting away for ten years in American white oak (first fill and refill casks).

They re-rack this whisky into the wine casks mentioned above for a further two years of maturation, bottling each expression at 12 years of age. The other big difference between the extra-matured range and the standard 10 year old is that they’re each bottled at 46% ABV (instead of 40%). They’re also non-chill filtered – preserving loads more of those delicious oily flavours.

Quinta Ruban label

Did you know…

Glenmorangie have long been considered one of the pioneers of cask finished or ‘extra-matured’ whisky. Well before the current extra-matured range was released, Glenmorangie were re-racking their whisky into various wine casks, as far back as the late 1980’s. Some of these casks were pretty exotic too! Truffle Oak anyone?

Often referred to as one of their best and one that collectors regularly pay big dollars for is their 1975 Tain L’Hermitage. Distilled in 1975, it was moved into Côtes du Rhône wine casks in 1999, then bottled in 2003 at 28 years old (there was also an original version bottled in 1995, but it’s as rare as hen’s teeth).

Nose

The first thing I got was more spirit than usual, not surprising given it’s bottled at 46%. Sweet vanilla bourbon notes from the American white oak are there, but they’re dominated by a rich sweetness. Not super fruity, but more sugared plums, cherry and wine notes. I got a hint of spice and also some curious fresh/cooling notes – butter menthol of some sort?

Palate

On entry, this has a reasonably oily mouth feel and is quite sweet and creamy. I also got a fair amount of spice on the side of my tongue, but it dissipates rather quickly, leaving behind a second wave of creamy sweet plummy notes, some dark cherries and a slightly tingling raspberry jam flavour. The port has had a big influence on this one.

Finish

The spice on the palate fades as fast as it arrives, leaving behind a really curious tingling sensation, almost fizzy or carbonated in a sense. Can’t say I’ve experienced that sensation in a whisky before! Some light oaky bitterness, nice medium length warmth and some traces of that cooling butter menthol from the nose start to emerge.

Comments

Even though the port finish is pretty heavy on the nose and palate, this is still unmistakably Glenmorangie. I love the fact it’s non-chill filtered and that they’ve bottled it at 46% ABV (makes me wish the standard 10 year old was the same).

I personally found the fizzy tingling sensation a little odd and the port dominated a bit too much for my liking, taking away from the more delicate Glenmorangie notes that I really enjoy. In saying that, I can definitely see this being enjoyed by many as a great digestif style whisky.

Bakery Hill Cask Strength Peated Malt

NAS, 60% ABV, American Oak, Victoria, Australia 

I recently exchanged a number of emails with the friendly and helpful people at Dram Fine Whiskies in Melbourne Australia. A week or so later I was genuinely excited when a small box arrived from them with a few samples of some great Australian single malts that I hadn’t tried – this Bakery Hill was one of them.

Bakery Hill

Bakery Hill distillery started in 1999 in Victoria, Australia. Fast forward 14 or 15 years and they now produce six or seven different single malt whiskies, along with a Vodka and a Gin.

Did you know… 

Bakery Hill originally tested out their peated malt whisky using imported malt from the UK, before switching to Australian peated malt in 2005.

Nose 

Big sweet alcohol spirit nose.  You know it’s cask strength, but it’s still somehow soft and a bit mild.  I get hints of malty cereal notes and really soft peat in the background.

Add a few drops of water and the nose really opens up with some light creamy vanilla notes, sweet oak and light peat smoke.  Much better!

Palate

A big smack in the mouth of oily, viscous spicy sweetness. Really light fruit notes – almost a bit sour – hints of smoke, spice and oak.

Some water brings out a nice creamy sweetness and highlights those fruit notes a bit more. It also allows the peat to show through, bringing with it a somewhat drying nutty oaky-ness.

Finish

Wave after wave of warmth (really though, that’s kind of what you expect for a 60% ABV heavy weight) The warmth gives way to some earthy drying peat notes.

Water tames the finish, only ever so slightly though. Warming spice, earthy peat and a slight dark cocoa/oak bitterness right at the back.

Comments

When I saw the words ‘peated malt’ I was expecting something a lot more in your face, but this was somewhat delicate, especially as far as the peat is concerned.

I could be wrong, but I’m guessing this batch is post 2005 (when they started using Australian peat). It seems to have a drying earthiness to it, similar to a Speyside peated whisky, like a peated BenRiach. It’s quite different to the Isaly peat we’re most familiar with.

Some people like their cask strength whiskies neat (and some cask strengths actually taste better neat), but I think this one really benefits from a few drops of water – that’s when it really opened up for me. I suspect this is fairly young, but it’s got some great flavour going on, so I would love to see something older from Bakery Hill in the future!

A big thanks to Shaun from Dram Fine Whiskies in Melbourne for the sample.

Whiskyleaks: The Balvenie 15 year old

Are you a fan of this little number?

Whiskyleaks

I am, which is why I’m putting this news out there – sort of like a public service announcement for The Balvenie fans.

After hearing a few different rumours about the future of The Balvenie 15 year old single barrel, I recently had the chance to set the record straight. The chance presented itself when Dr Sam Simmons (The Balvenie’s Global Brand Ambassador) was in town holding a series of tasting events and it went a little something like this:

Sam: ‘C’mon guys, I was told you would have some really good questions for me!?’

The Whisky Ledger: ‘Alright then, here’s one for you. I’ve heard that the 15 year old is being discontinued and replaced with a sherry version. Is that true?’ 

*sideways glances and crickets chirping*

Okay, so it was a bit unceremonious of me to put him on the spot like that, but I had to know! All credit to Sam for handing the question like a true ambassador and not giving too much away.

Let’s just say, if you’re particularly fond of the Balvenie 15 year old single barrel – with its American Oak vanilla creaminess, hints of spice and classic honeyed Balvenie notes – then you might want to add a bottle or two to your Christmas list. I can confidently say that it’s being discontinued.

Don’t let those tears dilute your whisky too much though, because it’s not all sad news. The American Oak (bourbon cask) version is being replaced by a single barrel sherry version. Given the quality of The Balvenie’s sherried whisky in expressions like their doublewood and Tun1401, I can only imagine how luscious it’ll be – especially if it stays around the 47.8% ABV mark. I can’t wait to try it.

The new 15 year old expression will also be joined by a 25 year old version and another unspecified expression. No further info on release dates or price points just yet.