Burn : Noun, Origin : Old English – “a small stream”.
The crackling of the river Lour as it flows unmindfully through water trails built over centuries. Ripples haphazardly bouncing off each other, brushing against the green foliage on the banks, tumbling over round rocks, smoothened by years of soft abrasion. The soft spring water with its trickles, drops and mumblings is what in Gaelic translates to Aberlour – Mouth of the chattering ‘burn’!
James Fleming gave Aberlour not only a distillery and a means of livelihood, but also gave the village a hospital and a suspension bridge over the river Spey. And even to this day, the nice folks at the distillery empty a bottle of their 12 YO single malt into the river at the start of the Salmon season every year; an offering, hoping the local fishermen are blessed with a gracious catch. “Let the deed show” – a phrase that is held with great regard, now and then – ever since it’s resurrection in 1879.
This younger sibling from the Aberlour stables is a concoction of spirits aged in traditional ex-bourbon barrels and sherry butts for a minimum of 12 years. The distillery sources all its produce locally, within a fifteen miles radius. And any leftovers rendered are used either as cattle feed (barley) or given back to the river. The 12 year subjugation to the sherry seasoned casks might lend a darker shade to the whisky, but the distillery still sins with the addition of E150 and chill filteration.
The bottle is loud and subtly bold but in a good way; smooth round curves with a broad neck and a wine bottle like inundation at the bottom. The dimensions of the bottle give it a premier feel and the larger than large cork adds every bit to its stature.
ABV : 40%
Eye: Deep copper
Nose: Creamy, owing to the presence of barley and sweet with the richness of brown sugar, vanilla and ‘rum and raisin’ milk chocolate. Cutting through the sweetness is the mild earthiness of damp wood and grass, followed by the zest from citrus peels and tangy green apples. Dried dates, juicy plums and bits of cantaloupe soon taper off revealing ginger, bits of cardamom and white pepper.
Taste: Christmas cake and caramel takes center stage, infused with dates, honey, cherries and dark fruits with the sherry influence resonating through. Surely enough you can sense the damp oak on the palate and the soft burn of pepper.
Finish: Medium – Caramel toffee, mild influence of dry fruits and pepper.
This 12 YO malt is medium bodied, silky and mildy dry, maintaining a very desirable balance between traditional ex-bourbon and sherry oak. Breadth to me was more former dependent and depth, latter dominant. The malt though very much Highland, does exhibit a very Speyside-like nose. And it’s not all that surprising considering the distillery is nested comfortably between the river Lour and the Spey.
At AUD $80, the Aberlour is worth every buck and is a pleasure to sip on. Dried fruits, plums, caramel toffee and a pinch of earthiness, all combined just right to form a lovely unison that’s hard to walk away from. And for those who can do without peat, chances are you might have some space saved up in your cabinet for this little Highland tuple.