Sunday, January 11, 2015

Review - Aultmore 12 years old

This whisky is the new single malt from the little known distillery of Aultmore. It forms part of a new range of whiskies, which is the first such range from the distillery.  The range features this 12 years old, plus 21 (which is a travel retail exclusive) and 25 years old expressions.  These have just been released and will be joined by 30 and 35 years old versions later in 2015.  The range forms part of Bacardi's The Last Great Malts range, which showcases whisky from the group's five single malt distilleries - Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Craigellachie, Macduff and Royal Brackla.

Aultmore is located in the Speyside region of Scotland, just off the main A96 road between the towns of Keith and Fochabers. It sits in a small hollow known locally at 'The Foggie Moss'.  The distillery was founded in 1896 by Alexander Edward, who also owned the Benrinnes and had co-founded Craigellachie, although production did not begin until 1897. The name is derived from Allt Mòr, the water source for the distillery, and this translates as 'big stream' from Gaelic.

Edward sold Aultmore to John Dewar & Sons in 1923 and it has remained with the company ever since, although Dewars is now part of the larger Bacardi group. The whisky it produces is an important part of the Dewar's blended Scotch whisky range, in particular the hugely popular White Label.  To read about our visit to the Aultmore distillery last Summer - click here.

The Aultmore range will be released initially in 10 markets worldwide including Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Sweden, Taiwan, the UK and the USA, plus in travel retail.  This Aultmore 12 years old is bottled at 46% ABV, is non chill-filtered and of natural colour.  It is avaiable now from specialist whisky retailers and has a recommended retail price of £50.

Our tasting notes
The colour is a pale golden yellow and the nose is light, delicate and sweet.  The first aromas are of honey and vanilla, and these are followed by softer notes of malted barley and freshly cut grass.  There is also a slightly hot spirity note and a hint of lemon zest.  These both add to the feeling of freshness.

On the palate, the initial notes are very sweet and a bit spirity.  The whisky has a delicate and light feel but is intensely sugary and sweet. The best description that we could think of was icing sugar mixed with honey.  As it settles in the mouth further notes are allowed through and these include plenty of vanilla, plus some malted cereals and a distinct grassy element.  This seems to be more like dried grass than on the nose.  A twist of lemon is also present.  The alcohol spirit is always in the background and adds a spicy heat.

The finish is short and a little sharp.  The sugary sweetness fades rapidly to leave the drying grassy and zesty sharp lemon notes to fight it out.  It is mouth watering and fresh, and the spirity heat adds to this.

What's the verdict?
We were excited to try this new whisky as we have never sampled anything from Aultmore.  It is light, spirity and very sweet.  This mix of characteristics, plus notes of icing sugar and lemon in particular, make this fresh and lively.  It is not the most complex and this led to a slight sense of disappointment from us, especially given the pre-release hype and build up from the owners.  However, this is worth a try and is another distillery ticked off our list.

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