I first encountered Aberlour a little more than a year ago, when I had a sudden dram-craving while on a camping trip. Not wanting to shell out too much for a bottle that was destined to be enjoyed alongside potato chips, s’mores, etc, I was looking for something inexpensive. What I found in that particular store was the Aberlour 10, and I soon discovered that age statements and price-points don’t always tell you much about the quality of the spirit inside the bottle – it was quite delicious! That experience led me to reach for the Aberlour 12 Year Old the next time I was snooping around one of my hometown liquor stores. After all, a couple more years in the wood should only improve the whisky, right? In any case, for less than $45 per bottle, I figured it was worth the risk! Aberlour 12 Year Old is bottled at 40% abv.
To the Eye
This whisky is immediately identifiable as a well-sherried offering as it displays obvious red hues while still in the bottle. But, once poured into my Glencairn, it loses that redness and instead appears somewhere between deep gold and copper. A tilt of the glass leaves clinging, stubborn legs .
In the Nose
At first, the aroma of this dram is somewhat curious. My first notion is of an air freshener… but not the overpoweringly artificial sort. My first few sniffs make me think of a fresh, toned-down fragrance… has anyone ever described a whisky’s nose as “Cool Breeze” or “Crisp Linen”? All I know is that it’s gentle and inviting.
As the nose further develops, I can definitely pick out an obvious sherry note, along with ripe red apples. With even more time, I can begin to sense toasted marshmallows, a little bit of sawdust and maybe even a hint of cinnamon. I have to admit, gentleness aside, I’m surprised by the nuances in the aroma of this whisky!
On the Tongue
Unsurprisingly, sherry is one of the first tastes I pick up, but not as strongly as I expected. This is definitely not a sherry-bomb and, in fact, oak is a more dominant early flavour. As I continue enjoying my dram, I also taste orchard fruits and, eventually, a toasted cereal character that, in combination, makes me think of apple pie. Maybe it’s that thought influencing my taste buds, but I’m sure I can also taste those flavours of cinnamon that I smelled earlier. The finish is a medium exit with a very smooth, gentle warming and that malty, fruity apple-pie character lingers for a bit.
I don’t expect a massive barrage of flavour from an 80-proof whisky and I find Aberlour 12 Year Old almost as gentle on my palate as it was on my sniffer. I’m not saying it’s lacking flavour, quite the opposite, actually, I just wonder what else it might deliver at an abv somewhat closer to cask strength.
This is a whisky that is easy-going enough for beginners but complex enough to be enjoyed by experienced drammers as well. I find Aberlour 12 to be a terrific all-around whisky that will be a staple every-dayer in my cabinet.