Sep 272018

Aberlour have basically doubled the price on one of our malthead staple expressions, the A’bunadh. Naturally, we’re looking for a replacement, and here pops up a new expression, that seems to be winking toward our demographic. It’s 48% ABV, non colored and non chill filtered. Our first thought is “Yay! this replaces the A’bunadh”. We then look at the label and see that “[T]his expression is significantly influenced by the finest quality Oloroso sherry casks”, and grab one doing this:

You then pop the bottle open and pour a dram. Maybe you even pour a dram of the last of your reasonably priced A’bunadh next to this one, to celebrate your decisive win over Pernod. You take a sniff of the Casg Annamh only to find, to your great disappointment and utter chagrin that, lo and behold, it isn’t A’bunadh:

The fact that the Aberlour A’bunadh was not discontinued should have primed you for this. But even if not,  had you read the back of the tube, you would have found that the description was both very clear, and very accurate:

It quite clearly says that it was matured in sherry and two types of American oak, presumably first fill and refill ex bourbon casks.

So once we’ve established that we’re not talking about Pernod Ricard making us good on the A’bunadh price hike, but on a different product, we can look at it on its own merits. The ABV and wholesome presentation (no coloration or chill filtration), put it in the ballpark of the 12 Year Old Non Chill Filtered, which I really liked, rather than that of the A’bunadh. And you know what? for a daily dram for the malthead, it’s not bad, not bad at all.

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Aberlour Casg Annamh, Batch 001 (48% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Amber, a lot of residue and droplets on the glass.

Nose: Sherry sweetness with dried apricots on the nose, honey and some light oak. Wood spices, but with a lot of black pepper, fresh yellow dates and vanilla.

Palate: Sweet and spicy, with some dark fruit mixed with honey and quite a bit of pepper and nutmeg.

Linger: A lot of pepper, with some residual sweetness. Long pepper around the gullet, with some freshly baked bread. There’s a light sourness there too.


If you’re looking for the A’bunadh killer, this isn’t it. So sherry bombers will be very unhappy. But if you’re looking for a well made whisky putting sherry and bourbon together nicely, and enjoy a spicy palate, this is a nice daily sipper.

This is definitely an expression I’d hold in my cabinet, and is the perfect match with the 12 year old non chill filtered, also at 48%.

Feb 252017

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.

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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:


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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.

Jul 022016

Part of the Facebook event launching the Scallywag Cask Strength #2, we were treated to a few other whiskies from the Douglas Laing collection of Speyside malts, the highlight of which were a very young Dailuaine sherry bomb, and this quite dignified Aberlour.

Not a distillery whos independent bottlings are awash in the market, and with the official distillery style being clearly geared toward sherry matured whisky, finding a well aged bourbon matured Aberlour isn’t the easiest thing, but when they come along, they’re a pretty sight. I tasted, and got a bottle, of a much younger ex bourbon Aberlour from the SMWS (54.33). It was only 10 years old, but might have easily developed to be a beauty like this 21 year old.

As always, the whisky is meticulously selected and really showcases a side of the distillery we don’t see that often.

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Douglas Laing Old Particular Aberlour 21 Years Old, Distilled September 1992, Bottled August 2014, Refill Hogshead, DL10436, 331 Bottles (51.5% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: gold within legs coming off a pretty sturdy necklace.

Nose: a floral bouquet with honey and some nutmeg or allspice sprinkled above. Oak shavings, baking pound cake, and a surprising sweet freshness reminiscent of a waft of the honeysuckle fill the background.

Palate: Grapefruit, honey and a wave of spicy pepper which then receives to a light dry citrusy sweetness with some orange peel.

Linger: citrus bitterness, mead, white pepper leaving a spicy tingle in the mouth. The linger is long with hints of chocolate and faint barley sugar remaining with the spice throughout the mouth.


This is a delicate and beautiful 21-year-old highlighting the beauty that a good refill Bourbon cask can impart on good spirit. Complex with sweetness, spice, fruit and that lovely bitter note, it is a stunning dram.

May 202016

I was happy to get this sample from The Whisky Exchange for two reasons: First, well, I love sherry bombs. Second, I have a warm spot in my heart for Aberlour. Not so much for the regular releases (although the 12 year old Non Chill Filtered is presented at a nice ABV – 48% – and makes for a great tipple), but naturally for the A’bunadh, one of my two go-to sherry cask strength sherry bombs. At any given time, you’re likely to find an open bottle of A’bunadh and its replacement in my cabinet. Second, well, I love sherry bombs.

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Yet, as good as it is, the A’bunadh is mostly youngish whisky (though you can definitely detect that there is some aged stock in the A’bunadh), and it’s not every day that you get to taste a first fill single cask from Aberlour that has matured to this age. This whisky is just old enough to have the first hints of those old, dusty sherry notes I so love, and is a bona fide sherry bomb, quite worth trying.

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Aberlour 16 Year Old, First Fill Sherry Cask 4738, TWE Exclusive (53.5% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Mahogany, thin and very slow legs.

Nose: Gorgeous sherry nose with cinnamon, cloves and star anise in a compete full of red fruit, strawberries and quince. Sweet sultanas, espresso, leather, and the lightest hint of salt. Dusty books next to an old spice shop yet with these aromas are also some fresh cherries drizzled with dark chocolate. Water sharpens the spice, and pushes the nose slightly toward a sharper dark chocolate, with a dryer chalkiness.

Palate: Thick and syrupy, with those wood spices and dryness coating the tongue, with the old dusty sherry feel on the tongue. A few drops of water liven it up, making the spices pop, and espresso coffee come to life. Wowsers…

Linger: Sweet and dry, with some polish, the linger is long and leaves the fruit hovering right at the edge of your sense of taste, and the lightest hint of spice in the top of the gullet. With the addition of water cherry chocolate is the main flavor coming through a dry linger that lasts forever. In fact, I could still taste the dram over an hour after the glass was empty.


This is a beautiful look into what the A’bunadh would become if allowed to mature to 16 years, producing a very worthy sherry bomb. This is, no doubt, a bottle to be savored, and enjoyed slowly and with water.

The price tag of £100 is, indeed, a little on the high side, but given the rarity of such an offering and just how much of a sherry bomb this is, it’s definitely worth grabbing.

Official sample provided by The Whisky Exchange.

Aug 022015

Aberlour is really big in France, and this, like most of the distillery’s special releases are geared exclusively for the French market (although they can be had in some other markets), including a 12 year old that’s non chill filtered. I have yet to taste the non chill filtered 12 year old, and I hope to come across is in the near future. Of course, for maltheads the now 51 batch strong A’bunadh is a staple in any sherry bomber’s cabinet.

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This expression, takes the standard 10 year old, made with a mixture of bourbon and sherry casks, and then finishes it in sherry casks, to let the sherry become more dominant.

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Aberlour 10 Year Old Sherry Cask Finish (43% ABV)

Appearance: Mahogany, Thick and slow legs.

Nose: Sherry spice is the first thing that hits the nose, with an underlying sweetness, suggesting honey and some of the younger Aberlour perfume.

Palate: Sweet sherry, warm cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, orange peel, some pepper and an almost rum like sweetness.

Linger: Spice and sweetness on the tongue, some spice on the back of the throat in a medium finish.


Nice layer of sherry over and already good basic entry level whisky. This expression would be interesting to compare with the current 12 year old sherry cask matured.

Manny, another one of your drams hits the spot!