Aberlour 12yo Double Cask Matured Tasting Notes

aberlour-12yo-highland-single-malt-titleMany years ago, my lovely wife and I were on a trip to England to visit our good friends (one of which is a fixture in our Facebook group, Richard) and we took a few days to visit a few distilleries in Scotland. We would eventually visit The Macallan, The Glenlivet, and drive around the outside of a few others. We stayed a few nights outside the town of Craigellachie, which was right next to The Macallan. As you might know, Macallan Distillery is in Charlestown of Aberlour.

Aberlour, of course, is the home of delicious scotch whisky Aberlour. :)

While we were enjoying lunch someone, someone told us that we had to visit the distillery because it had “one of the best tours” available. Now, we’d just gone through The Macallan on their Most Precious tour and were on our way to Glenlivet (dodging Glenfiddich trucks the whole way), so we didn’t have time to squeeze in another distillery but the name always stuck.

It wasn’t until years later that I’d enjoy A’bunadh in its cask strength glory but I’ve often enjoyed the 12yo. When I think of Aberlour, I think sherry. Most of the Aberlour spirits are aged in former bourbon casks, which is common, but they do have quite a few finished in various dessert wines, like sherry.

The 10yo is a double cask matured spirit, matured in traditional oak and then finished in sherry casks.

Tasting Notes:

  • Nose: Slight rich sweetness like brown sugar, a little rum, dried fruit
  • Palate: Toffee, dates, dried fruit, light tropical fruit like the non-sweet part of pineapple or mango
  • Finish: Medium finish with lots of fruit, ends with the richness of a dark chocolate with some bitterness.

An enjoyable dram, you have to like the sweetness imparted by a finish in sherry, but it won’t blow your socks off. Whereas my first taste of A’bunadh begged me for more, this one was just a solid sherried whisky that checked off all the boxes.

If you love bourbon and wanted to dabble in scotch, this would be a good choice because the sweetness is a nice transition.

We can pick it up for $45 locally and at that price it’s a good deal.

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Glenmorangie – The Nectar D’Or Tasting Notes

Credit: Fareham Wine

Credit: Fareham Wine

If you want an affordable single malt finish (that is, ending its maturation process in a cask of a different origin from its primary maturation cask), Glenmorangie is going to be your best bet in terms of value. They have produced a wide array of finishes as part of their regular expression lineup.

Take, for example, Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban, which is is Glenmorangie’s port finish. I love it. It’ll set you back around $60 here in Maryland, one of the most affordable port finishes you’ll find. I’ve done searches online for affordable port finishes and the ones that come up are Tomintoul 12yo Port and Arran Port Finish 50%, neither of which are available here. Everything else is far more expensive (Check out the price of Balvenie’s Port Wood! — granted it’s aged far longer and I personally believe it’s worth every penny… but still!).

But for today, we’re talking Glenmorangie – The Nectar D’Or. Aged 12 years, it’s their Sauternes finish. Sauternes is a sweet French wine from the Sauternais region (of the Graves section) of Bordeaux. Sauternes itself is a fun dessert wine because it’s made from Sémillon, Sauvignon blanc, and Muscadelle grapes. Now get this… the Muscadelle grapes have to have been affected by Botrytis cinerea, or noble rot, because it causes the grapes to be partially raisined! Sauternais has the perfect environment for this noble rot. I found that fascinating.

I recommend, given the opportunity, that you try the finishing product (in this case Sauternes) whenever possible. I am a big fan of port so I was able to figure out its impact on the Quinta Ruban. I’ve never had Sauternes so I can’t as easily pick out its impact on Nectar D’Or but some things are hard to miss.

Tasting Notes

  • Nose: Citrus, light raisins and fresh grapes, and a light sweetness with a richness of hazelnuts.
  • Palate: Honeyed from the get go, citrus, with toasted almonds and hazelnuts. There’s a bit of the cereal and barley flavor in there but it’s very much a dessert finish.
  • Finish: Finish is medium and where the cereal stands out after the sweetness subsides, you also get some vanilla and the lingering of the hazelnuts/toasted almonds

Doing some brief research, there aren’t a tremendous amount of Sauternes finishes out there. A quick search on Royal Mile Whiskies revealed only seven, many of which showed low stock and probably aren’t available here in the States. If you’re sold on Sauternes or just want to give it a try, this is your best bet if your here on this side of the Atlantic.

As for this dram, I enjoyed it. It’s fun tasting a wine through a whisky because you can tell that this marriage was probably a big challenge. Port has has big bold flavors, it’s fortified with brandy, so that marriage is of equals. Sauternes is like more delicate and so the flavors it imparts are lighter, citrusier (is that a word?), and so you won’t get the big influence you see in Quinta Ruban.

I’d give it a go if I was expanding my selection, certainly a good dram, but I prefer the port finish (and even the sherry finish in Lasanta).

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Does the Scotch Whisky Glass Really Matter?

Credit: fronx

Credit: fronx

Whisky glasses come in all shapes and sizes. From the old school Old Fashioned tumblers with straight sides to the various snifters styles with a tapered mouth and Glencairns – there’s a lot of debate over how important the shape of the glass is in the enjoyment of Scotch.

Personally, I think to the average enthusiast, the nose and taste differences are minor. If you’re just embarking on your exploration of scotch, whether the mouth of the glass tapers or not will not have a big impact. I think a perfect analogy is that you’re hearing the symphony and trying to find the stringed instruments and then the violin.

Whether you sit front row or back row, stage left or stage right, matters very little because it’s the first time you’ve heard a symphony.

That said, I think the whisky glass you use is important for other reasons.

First, having a special glass rounds out the experience, especially when the special glass costs only $6-8 (it’d be another issue if it cost $40!). By having a special glass you use for drinking scotch whisky, you elevate it from something that’s pedestrian to something that’s special.

You’re giving the whisky and the craftsman who made it the proper respect. The elixir sat in a barrel and aged for years. Can you imagine waiting 18 years? Or even just 12 or 10 years? Why not go the extra few feet, get a nice Glencairn, and enjoy it as the creators intended?

Lastly, the glass you use will have an impact on how much you enjoy it, even if it doesn’t change any discernible characteristics about the whisky. The value of a bottle of wine is affected by the design of the bottle and ratings are affected by the glass it was in when it was enjoyed.

And if all that didn’t convince you, I think one of my fellow Scotch aficionados, Allen, put it best in our Facebook group:

Would one eat a grapefruit with a soup spoon? Perhaps use a butter knife to cut the rib eye?

An old fashion doesn’t allow the proper shape for the aroma’s to dance, nor to reach you nose to allow your olfactory nerves to interpret the subtle aromas inherent in the juice.

Imagine aging a whisky 15/20/25/30 or more years creating a special elixir which your going to stick into a rock glass thereby offending the whisky gods or a brandy snifter with it’s bulbous girth.

However a nosing glass, a glencairn for instance (there are others) hold just the right amount of juice in it’s main body allowing the aromas to condense in it’s narrower neck to gather and expose themselves to you at the perfect opening not only for your mouth but your nose. Small enough to pass it along your nose the 1st time to introduce yourself to your expressions and then to become more intimate with it as you put your nose and senses deeper into the glass, at different angles and depths to envelope it with the many different types of smells.

Then of course what this glass in it’s whole of its shape does to enhance the taste of the juice. Properly allowing the alcohol burn off, the juice to breath within the shape of the glass bringing together the compleixities not to mention when and if you add a drop or two of water and the impact of opening up your aged elixir allowing the hidden subtle scents, flavors, sweetness,sourness, saltiness to show its hidden and mysterious self.

Or you could just use a rock glass or shot glass shoot it back

The man makes a great point! :)

Do you think the whisky glass you use matters? And what do you use?

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SWIG Leather Flask Review

SWIG Leather FlaskFirst things first, I received a review flask for free from SWIG. Let’s get that out of the way – they didn’t pay me to review it but they did send me one so I could review it in the first place.

What you’re looking at is their SWIG Heritage – Dark Havana Flask next to my own bottle of Laphroaig Triple Wood. I thought it’d make for a good photo since the box it came in was the same color as Laphroaig’s green bottles.

Overall Thoughts

swig-two-green-boxesThey really did a great job of presentation. It reminds me a lot of how a high end purse is packaged actually.

I received two green boxes, each wrapped in a black ribbon, that contained the flask and the leather case. Each rested on a paisley cushion that was a nice touch.

swig-flask-in-boxThis thing is beautiful. The flask itself is so shiny, engraved with my SWIG Society number, and looks right at home in its leather case.


About the Flask

The thing is, flasks are flasks. I said so in my list of the best whisky flasks (written before I even knew about this flask) and this one checks off all the boxes that I look for in a flask.

Where it separates itself is in two things. The flask itself is one single piece. No seams, no welds, just one single body so it will never leak. You can’t beat that.

Secondly, the leather is smooth, very nice, and it’s cool that they work with a local leatherworker to source this. Here’s his note:

I went to the website and Gary, the guy who signed the note, also runs a B&B! His leather working business does belts, satchels, and a few other products – this is literally a cottage industry. I think that’s pretty awesome.

Final Thoughts

They’ve really taken a simple hip flask and elevated it in its presentation. The box, the paisley cushion, the handwritten note – all very nice touches that add a luxury feel. All things you want whenever you’re giving someone a gift.

Productwise – the flask you see in the photos is their only flask. To differentiate, they do offer a variety of different holders (such as tweed and wet moulded in different colors). They also offer engraving, to add even more personalization.

If you’re in the market for a gift for that special someone, you might want to give SWIG Flasks a look.

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What do you think of artificial aging?

 Credit: twicepix

Credit: twicepix

I read an article in Wired today titled “This Guy Says He Can Make 20-Year-Old Rum in 6 Days.” The article is very detailed (and thus long) but it tells the story of how Bryan Davis started Lost Spirits and developed a way to artificially age spirits through chemistry.

Aging is chemistry. The spirit reacts with the burned wood barrel and that, over time, imparts different flavors. The longer you age, the more time chemistry has to work. Davis has figured out how to force the issue.

Personally, I think this is awesome.

I think that if he’s successful and he is able to create a 50-year old whisky in a very short period of time, I’ll one day be able to taste a close facsimile of a 50-year old whisky. I don’t think that you can replicate it completely (heck, by definition one 50-year old barrel’s contents will be different than one right next to it in storage!) but that doesn’t matter.

It’s close enough.

And it’ll be affordable enough, which is key.

And it won’t take anything away from existing 50-year old whiskies either. Part of the enjoyment of whisky is the story and there’s nothing super-romantic about “we chemistrified this frankenmalt to make it taste like it was aged 50 years.” It’s cool, but it’s not steeped in anything except science.

What do you think?

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