This week we’re taking the edge off Blue Monday, apparently the saddest day of the year, with a rich tasty dram from Speyside part-matured in sherry casks. It’s the Aberlour 14 Year Old Double Cask!
Aberlour means “mouth of the chattering burn” in Gaelic. The town is situated near Craigellachie on the river Spey and it’s world famous for being the home of Walkers shortbread. But this isn’t the Master of Biscuit blog, it’s Master of Malt so we’re far more interested in the town’s whisky. Though we do love a bit of shortbread at 4pm with our tea. It’s just so buttery!
Aberlour Distillery was founded in 1879 by local bigwig James Fleming using the soft water from St. Drostan’s Well. Fleming wasn’t just a businessman but also a local politician and philanthropist, and one of his most notable acts was to bequeath funds for a footbridge over the dangerous fast-moving river to replace the ferry service. The magnificent suspension footbridge was finished in 1902 and still stands to this day. But this isn’t the Master of Civil Engineering blog either so we will return to his distillery.
The original building was partly destroyed by fire in 1898 and rebuilt by top distillery architect Charles Doig of Elgin, who you may know from his work with Balblair, Pulteney, Speyburn and many others. Despite the 1960s and ‘70s extensions it’s still a lovely looking place, nestled by the river, especially on a sunny day, and well worth visiting when such things are allowed again.
Capacity was doubled in the 1970s and there are now six stainless steel washbacks, and four oil-fired pot stills with shell and tube condensers producing a medium weight spirit. Aberlour can produce about 3.9 millions litres of pure alcohol per year. It has been in the hands of Pernod Ricard since 1974. With this pedigree, you won’t be surprised to learn that it’s particularly popular in France.
Aberlour’s most famous expression is probably the mighty cask strength a’ bunadh (meaning the origin in Gaelic.) It’s entirely matured in Oloroso sherry casks and Ian Buxton in his 101 Whiskies book says: “If you like traditional Macallan or Glenfarclas, then you’re going to love this.”
Our New Arrival is something of a chip off the old block and has already picked up gongs including a double gold medal at the International Wine and Spirits Competition 2020, and a gold medal at the International Spirits Challenge 2020. It’s a 14 year whisky matured first in bourbon and then Oloroso sherry casks. It’s a big luxurious sweet-natured loveable sort of dram. Delicious and comforting sipped neat, it has a sweetness and smoothness that would lend itself to simple cocktails like an Old Fashioned or a particularly decadent Rob Roy. Though, look away malt whisky purists, the distillery’s marketing team suggests using it in a Bramble! Scandalous, but also delicious.
Here’s how to make one:
Shake the Aberlour, lemon juice and sugar syrup in a shaker with ice. Strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Drizzle over the crème de mure and garnish with a bramble and a lemon slice.
Tasting note from the Chaps at Master of Malt:
Nose: Big aromatics on this one with cloves, cardamom and camphor, and then comes a wave of sweeter notes like toffee, milk chocolate and orange rind.
Palate: Full texture, round and creamy, with sweet dark cherries, fudge, and mocha coffee with a refreshing minty breeze.
Finish: Quite long with lingering honey and wood spice.
Aberlour 14 Year Old Double Cask is now available from Master of Malt.