At the tail-end of last year, John Dewar & Sons announced its intention to release proprietary bottlings from the malt distilleries that tend to only produce whisky for the company’s blends – think Dewar’s, naturally.
You can read more about that move in my piece on it here but the short and sweet of it is that it is a rather big undertaking. The new whiskies that have thus far been released include ones from Aberfeldy, and Craigellachie (check out my thoughts on those here) and now three new whiskies from Aultmore.
This latest one is, perhaps, the one I knew least of. I’d already tried a few single cask samples and bottlings of Craigellachie, and had visited Aberfeldy during the first Dramboree but Aultmore? Nope, not much on that one, although it has been released in the Flora & Fauna series, and as a 12 year old. As such, it was the one that intrigued me most when I heard about the push into single malts by John Dewar & Sons.
As background, the distillery originally started running in 1897 but closed in the early 20th century following the Pattison Crisis, which saw many distilleries go bankrupt. It briefly reopened, but was then forced to close again due to the First World War. In 1923, it was purchased by John Dewar & Sons, before being sold on a couple of years later once more. It was bought by them again in 1998. Interesting wee fact: it was steam powered for over 70 years, with electricity only coming to the distillery in 1969, right before a major renovation, which saw the distillery increase capacity from two to four stills.
So, how did these three new releases shape up? Here’s what I thought:
Aultmore 12: 46%: £42:
(c): Pale moon
(n): Bit sour at first, then buttery popcorn, before gentle fruitiness emerges after a couple of minutes – needs time to breathe – including peach, yellow flowers, rosy apples, baked custard, toasted marshmallows and Horlick’s.
(p): Pears, white chocolate, Starburst strawberry chews all burst out first – lovely and fruity. After a few seconds, vanilla bean also comes through. It’s got great texture, isn’t too woody, and very balanced. More complex than I expected.
(f): Wine gums.
Aultmore 21: 46%: £125: Travel Retail Exclusive:
(c): Manuka honey
(n): Peaches, orange flowers, quite heady – really thick but balanced. Dark honey, blueberry cobbler, oranges – very, very moreish.
(p): Very creamy, lovely and balanced. Peach gum and baked oranges, then lifts as it gets to the end with almost a passionfruit note before some orange cake.
(f): Bit shorter than expected – hints at blackcurrant lozenges.
(c): Polished pound coin
(n): Mango, tinned pineapple rings, strawberry Yazoo, victoria sponge, strawberry fruit tea and fondant fancies – very ‘pink’!
(p): Like a cake to start: icing, sponge, candied strawberries, but not too sweet. Nice leafy bitterness at the back of the palate, something almost menthol-like. Really nice mouthfeel, not at all sickly. Dignified.
(f): Dies off fairly quickly but wonderful when mid-sip – definitely encourages you to go back for more.
In conclusion: The range is a wonderful melee of fruity goodness, right up my street. It’s got character and oomph and the 12-year old is a great buy. Obviously, the 25-year old is a bit punchier in the price range, so one to try a dram of at a bar if you see it about. Overall, an excellent offering from this little known distillery. I look forward to seeing how it progresses!
With thanks to John Dewar & Sons/Quercus PR for the samples of all three whiskies/imagery.