If you’re a frequent reader of this little ole whisky blog then you might have noticed that I’ve attended several Malt Nuts tastings recently. It all started with Talisker a few months back and then last month I was asked back to a Glen Elgin tasting, which was awesome, and then last week I was invited back for Aultmore which, like Glen Elgin, is another distillery I haven’t been too familiar with… until now.
Like the tastings before this it was held at a private residence and our gracious host and his wife laid out a tasty spread served well to insulate our stomachs as we went down a 12 bottle deep Aultmore rabbit hole. If you’re not too familiar with Aultmore, don’t worry too much because it’s not likely that you would be as 99% of what comes from Aultmore goes into Chivas and other blends the company own. However, there should be at least a 12 year old bottling released to the the US later this year as part of Chivas’ Last Great Malts lineup.
Founded in 1896 by the Alexander Edward who also owned Benrinnes and within 2 years would also go on to own Oban. However not too long after Aultmore was opened Scotland was struck with the early 1900’s whisky crisis and caused it to be shut down for a short time. It reopened in 1904, but a barley shortage due to World War 1 forced it to shut it’s doors yet again.
After a while it was re-opened and in 1923 Aultmore was purchased by John Dewar which lead it being part of DCL in 1925. In 1970 Aultmore received a refurbishing and an upgrade from 2 to 4 stills and in 1971 was sold off to United Distillers (Diageo). In 1998 ownership would circle back with John Dewar’s & Sons (Baccardi) once again buying the distillery which is where it sits today. And now… on the the Aultmores!
Like all of the other Malt Nuts tastings these were done blind and the three groupings of the evening are listed below.
- Traditional Strength Bottling
- Traditional Strength Bottling Part 2
- Cask Strength Bottlings
1A – Aultmore Signatory Vintage 12 years 46%
Distilled: 05-12-1997 Bottled: 08-25-2009 Cask:3345 Non-Chill Filtered Natural Color Hogshead
- Nose: Light fruit, floral funk, honey suckle and a citrusy pop. It smells a bit young, but also has a light freshness about it.
- Palate: Light fruit, minerality (think mineral water), mild caramel and a bit of citrus that reminds me of 7UP.
- Finish: Dry with a medium fade of fruit, buttered saltines and minerality.
- Overall: B- (80-82) It was light yet it seemed to have a strange cloying nature to it. Not terrible, but not a fan either.
1B – Aultmore G&M Connoisseurs Choice 11 years 43%
Distilled: 1995 Bottled: 2007 Oak Casks
- Nose: Light and fruity with a little more caramel than 1A, but other than that almost identical.
- Palate: A little more fruity than 1A, but still incredibly similar with only a mild bit of graham showing up to really differentiate.
- Finish: Add a little wood to 1A and you have the finish here.
- Overall: B- (80-82) Really not a big difference between this and 1A. If tasting in a controlled environment I might give this 1 point more but that would be it.
1C – Harvey’s Special Blended Scotch Whisky 40%
“100% Scotch Whikies aged and blended in Scotland… Glasgow and Aultmore Distillery”
- Nose: Little bit of nutty sherry and bing cherries with some lighter fruitier notes and malty notes as well.
- Palate: Sherry, dried strawberries, nutty and a bit of alcohol comes through. It was showing up just a teeny bit on the nose, but much more noticeable on the palate.
- Finish: Short ending of dark fruit, wood, brown sugar, nuts and alcohol.
- Overall: B- (80-82) This one was a dusty “Aultmore blend” from the 70s and it did something weird in the glass. On first taste it was sweet, smooth and tasty. Then, after sitting in the glass for 20-30, when I returned it was all alcohol and astringency with only light notes of sweetness and malt. I let it sit until the end of the night and went back to it again and a lot of that alcohol & astringency had burned off and it was closer to how it started, but still a touch off. Sometimes these old whiskies do interesting things once they’re opened. Still, it was fun to taste.
1D – Aultmore G&M Connoisseurs Choice 13 years 46%
Distilled: 2000 Bottled: 2013
- Nose: It’s a richer version of 1A & 1B. The fruit was a bit darker and a bit dirty with a darkness moving in along with some caramel and vanilla.
- Palate: Palate is different than 1A & 1B. Notes of bananas, graham cracker, citrus, crusty bread and citrus zest with a light fruitiness coming through at the end.
- Finish: Medium – Fruity Jell-o, malt and caramel. This was my least favorite aspect of the whisky.
- Overall: B (83-86) I kind of liked this one and was happy to see it was the one I brought and it did ok. I can’t claim any real credit, so good job Gordon & MacPhail on your barrel selection. What I liked about it was the darker character that arrived which gave it more dimension than the others so far.
2A – Aultmore Chieftain’s 12 years 46%
Distilled: Nov 1997 Bottled: Oct 2010 Cask:7737 Non-Chill Filtered Natural Color
- Nose: That plastic cottony smell of a freshly opened bag of diapers mixed with caramel syrup, malt and a light fruitiness.
- Palate: No fresh diapers on the palate just fruit and candy. Tropical leaning fruit notes, Necco Wafers, Smarties, minerality and a 7UP like citrus.
- Finish: Short and light with notes of fruit, wood and mint.
- Overall: C+ (77-79) If it tasted like it smelled this would have been a C- / D+ whisky, but luckily the palate and finish saved it. Still, not a fan of smelling that much plastic in my whisky.
2B – Aultmore Duncan Taylor Whisky Galore 14 years 46%
Distilled: 1989 Bottled: 2003 Non-Chill Filtered Natural color
- Nose: Funky and dusty, almost moldy, smelling with notes of sherry, vermouth, dried apricots and a slight nutty character.
- Palate: Caramel taffy and dried cherries with a strong winey character to it.
- Finish: Medium fade of Canada Mints, Necco Wafers, imitation vanilla and a light woodiness.
- Overall: B (83-86) If tasted in a controlled environment I think this would score in the lower end of the B range, but I still enjoyed it enough that I would like to try it again.
2C – Aultmore The Classic Casks 24 years for Joyal’s Liquors 43%
Distilled: 1981 Bottled: 2006 Oak
- Nose: This one is a little weird and there is a strong funkiness that permeates the entire nose with watery notes of spice, malt, caramel syrup and candle smoke. For that last one think of the smell after you blow out an “unscented” tea candle, that burned waxy ozonish type of smoke.
- Palate: There is something here that is like peat, but it’s not peat. It’s like imitation peat and it combines with a dusty grain like note to flood the palate and blanket what could have been some nice notes of vanilla, fruit and dried apricots.
- Finish: Long and dry with that imitation peat like character dominating. A light and awkward bit of Smarties comes though as well.
- Overall: C (73-76) This was my least favorite of the night. I struggled to find much good about it. I was tempted to give it a C-, but I’d like to try it again before shoving it down into that category.
2D – Aultmore The Classic Cask 15 years 46%
Distilled: 1997 Bottled: 2012
- Nose: This is a pleasant change of pace. Bananas, vanilla frosting, apples, complex fruit and malt.
- Palate: Banana creamsicle, dried apricots, wood and a bit of mint and dark sweets.
- Finish: Long and fruity it was accented by notes of Canada Mints, wood, malt and a little bit of dark fruit leather.
- Overall: B+ (87-89) I liked this one quite a bit. It was my 3rd favorite of the night and I thought it came together beautifully. Definitely one I’d like to explore more thoroughly.
- Nose: Honey, vanilla, butterscotch, malt, complex fruit and a warm nuttiness. This is a very nice nose.
- Palate: The fruit gets darker here and mixes with caramel, malt, mint and a supple sherry like sweetness. There is a light cereal note that floats floats over the palate and becomes slightly stronger at the end.
- Finish: That cereal note becomes more graham cracker like and slowly fades out along with notes of fruit, char and wood.
- Overall: B+ (87-89) Oh man I liked this one and it ends dup being my 2nd favorite of the night. A really nice and tasty dram.
3B – Aultmore 1997 Cadenheads 17 years Picked for Binny’s 54%
- Nose: Banana heavy fruit with a touch of malt, dark sweets and old worn wood. Not amazingly complex, but nice.
- Palate: Banana heavy fruit again along with notes of malt, Necco wafers, a light smoky quality, vanilla, mint and water crackers.
- Finish: Long with notes of dried tropical fruit, caramel, banana and smoky char.
- Overall: B (83-86) This one did turn out to be a lightly peated Aultmore which is incredibly rare to come by. I liked it and was tempted to give it a B+, but the nose kept it back from hitting that next level.
3C – Aultmore Single Malt Whisky Society 73.50 Midnight Espresso 20 years 57.4%
Distilled: July 9th 1991 Refill hogshead & Ex-Bourbon
- Nose: Vermouth, cherries, caramel, vanilla, sherry and nuts. There was no way to miss that this was a sherried Aultmore.
- Palate: Ripe bananas, nuts, sherry, cocoa powder and a light bit of herbalness. Not quite as rich and complex as the nose, but still really good.
- Finish: Long and winding fade of fruit, nuts, wood, Necco Wafers and that same light herbal character from the palate.
- Overall: B+ (87-89) The comparatively lower complexity on the palate is what kept it from an A-, but it still grabbed the #1 spot as my favorite of the evening.
3D – Aultmore A.D. Rattray Cask Collection 16 years 55.8%
- Nose: Bananas, dried apricots, toffee, vanilla and a mild malty sweetness. It’s good.
- Palate: Dried strawberries and dried bananas with a touch of dried dark fruit, vanilla and citrus. Good, but not great. It all came through a bit on the lighter side of things.
- Finish: Graham, malt, wood and a dark sweetness go out on a medium fade.
- Overall: B (83-86) It came close to B+ but the lightness on the palate kept it out. However it was still delicious and I would easily place it in the top 5 of the night.
I’m excited for the next Malt Nuts meeting and I hope y’all enjoyed reading about all of these different Aultmore expressions at least 1/4 as much as I did drinking them. Cheers!