Whisky Odyssey
Old-fashioned with a twist of the modern 

Breaking notes!
Aultmore proving strength on sherry maturation

In the Blind Tasting Bottle Club that I am partaking in for many years, was a devastating surprise in our most recent edition. At the reveal moment, it turned out that a strong, sherried whisky, identified by most of us as ‘perhaps a 1993 GlenDronach’ or the likes of old sherried Benrinnes and Dailuaine, was actually an Aultmore single malt. Not really a distillery that springs to mind often, does it? Perhaps a mistake, as the tasting notes for a brand new release will (also) show.

We interrupt our regular schedule of blogs for that brand new bottle released by Signatory Vintage. When my local retailer called with the news there was a new range of 100 proofs and now even ‘100 proof exceptional cask’, my interest was tickled by the available Aultmore. Almost exactly the same age as the Aultmore Centenary that I tasted blind. So there, I bought the bottle, cracked it open and put two glasses next to each other. Here are my impressions!

Aultmore 2007, 17 years old, bottled at 57,1 % abv by Signatory Vintage

Makeup: Matured for 17 years in First Fill Sherry Butts. This is Edition # 1 with a label saying ‘Exceptional Cask’, but at the same time part of the 100 proof series. So, Signatory themselves label this as a standout? That gives us shivers, because we know this independent bottler has amazing old-fashioned sherry casks in the warehouses.

General impressions: Starts very fruity on peaches, apricot and plums, quite rich and generous, even though the abv burns the nostrils a little. With the adding of a little water you are transported to a furniture store. There is a general sale going on, and the shop assistant polished all the cabinets to make them shine for the customers. Soft orchard fruits keep interrupting the road to different aroma’s.

The taste is almost reminiscent of aged calvados. Apples and apricot return, which makes this Aultmore very balanced and consistent. The overlaying sherry is a little dominant here, with wood and chocolate and a truckload of fudge and caramel, but still, always lingering in the background, is a fruitiness that can only come from the vibrant (eastern) Speyside spirit. The finish provides very dark chocolate notes, which makes me long for nice pairing.

Conclusion: This Aultmore is definitely a modern sherried whisky, but with enough touches of classic maturation that has become quite rare. Exceptional is a right description for it.

Score: 89 points
Disclaimer: taken from a self-bought bottle.


Aultmore 1981 Centenary, bottled in 1997 at 63 % abv

Makeup: A beastly alcohol volume from one single sherry cask, numbered 2508. It appears like they took some leftover Dalwhinnie bottles. The distillery was Diageo (or predecessor) owned at the moment of the centenary, before being sold to Dewar/Bacardi in 1998.

General impressions: The colour is truly tremendous, one shade darker even than the Signatory, and the scents from the glass even more. Rich, sweet sherry notes, all on raisins, but there is also a distinct influence of furniture polish. That same store again? Incredibly nostalgic. Jee, those raisins really soaked in Caroni rum, did they not? After some while I get notes of wet wood, the inside or a pirate ship where mutiny resulted in the crew emptying all the rum barrels on board! 

Then we move on to chili chutney, like what accompanies Indonesian meals over here in The Netherlands. We are now bordering on a sulphur hint, but not crossing, so perfectly fine. The chili chutney starts dominating after a while, which might turn away people from this whisky. But I am quite charmed by this dirty character. The pronounced red fruit makes this stand out above average sherried whisky.

Conclusion: Unbelievable to find so much complexity, charm and sheer power in one single cask. A hidden gem when scrolling through hundreds and hundreds of auction entries. I already loved the clean standard 12 years old Aultmore Foggie Moss, but never realized this distillery matches with sherry really well.

Score: 91 points
Disclaimer: sample acquired through membership of a Blind Tasting Bottle Club.

Share this on your social media! - and check mine while you're at it :)