Pernod Ricard did so many things right with this expression, that I’m not sure even where to start.
I have a serious gripe with single malt entry level expressions that are chill filtered and presented at 40%. I think that’s the perfect way to serve up whisky to the “smooth seekers” crowd, but most of us buffs like our whisky with more punch and flavor. For Aberlour, this is a challenge. On the one hand, they are the number one brand in the country that consumes the most whisky per-capita in the world, France. Companies are loath to mess with brands that are doing well, and for good reason. I once asked Laphroaig’s John Capmpell why the Laphroaig 10 is still chill filtered and at 40% (in Europe, in the US it’s sold at 43%) and if that might go up to 48% which has become the standard for the NAS expressions. His answer was that he can’t touch the 10, as it’s a staple in so many bars around the world, and that he therefore created the Cask Strength 10 year old for those who want ‘high octane’ whisky, but that the 10 will remain just as it is. I assume Aberlour is at the very same place with it’s core range, presented at 40% or 43% and chill filtered.
On the other hand, Aberlour is not about to give up on the whisky buff market, and has two “regular” expressions, as well as the usually excellent distillery exclusives, that will cater to the palates of more experienced whisky aficionados. Obviously, the Oloroso matured A’bunadh is a staple in many a connoisseur’s cabinets, and this 12 year old non chill filtered is offered at 48% ABV priced competitively to be considered alongside the better entry level expressions, if it’s as good.
To determine that, let’s move on to the tasting:
Aberlour 12 Years Old Non Chill Filtered (48% ABV, NCF)
Appearance: Bronze, very slow forming thin legs.
Nose: Sultanas, cinnamon, white pepper and a hint of balsamic vinegar. Dried apricot roll, with a creamy maltiness and red berries. A drop of water brings out a hint of vanilla.
Palate: Viscous, dry and spicy with wood spices and black pepper, and a hint of bitterness. Dried fruit (prunes and some dried apricots), a hint of demerara sugar, sharp clove and a hint of turmeric.
Linger: Spicy and dry, with a pretty long linger. The spice expands to the top of the gullet, and the dry tingle on the inside of the cheeks remains for a long time. Some residual sweetness remains on the tongue
This is nicely complex and would definitely be a welcome addition to my more favored entry level whiskies, alongside the Glen Garioch 12, Bunnahabhain 12, and Springbank 10.