Aberlour 12: Where Sherry and Spice Make Magic in Your Glass

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Aberlour 12

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Aberlour 12 is an easy-drinking Speyside single malt Scotch whisky that offers a refined and balanced flavour profile. As someone relatively new to exploring Scotch, I was impressed by the complexity and nuance packed into this affordably-priced bottle. It delivers sweet fruity notes complemented by spicy warmth and subtle smoke. For me, Aberlour 12 hits that sweet spot between approachability and depth. Read on for my full tasting notes and impressions of this quality single malt.

Aberlour 12 Review: Table of Contents

Quick Snapshot

  • Style: Speyside Single Malt
  • Age: 12 Years
  • ABV: 40%
  • Overall Impression: Elegant, fruity, well-balanced

I’m an occasional Scotch drinker who enjoys exploring the diverse regions and styles of single malt whisky. I tend to prefer sweeter, fruit-forward drams over heavily peated ones like Laphroaig 10 Year Old Cask Strength. Aberlour 12 appealed to me for its balanced flavor profile and quality for the price point.

The Whiskies Inside

Blend Breakdown

Aberlour 12 is matured for over a decade in a combination of ex-bourbon casks (around 30%) and ex-sherry casks (around 70%) from Jerez, Spain. The American oak bourbon barrels impart notes of vanilla and spice, while the European oak sherry butts contribute rich dried fruit flavours and deeper colour.

Production Notes

  • Water Source: From springs and wells around Ben Rinnes mountain
  • Mash Bill: Malted barley
  • Yeast: Distiller’s yeast
  • Distillation: Double distilled in pear-shaped stills
  • Maturation: Minimum 12 years in bourbon and sherry casks
  • Bottling: Non-chill filtered and natural colour

What Makes It Special

Aberlour prides itself on traditional production methods, from its locally-sourced water to distinctive pear-shaped stills. Maturing the whisky in both bourbon and sherry casks creates an exceptional balance of flavours. The use of quarter casks for some whisky adds robust tannins and oak flavours.

To learn more about the mashing and fermentation processes central to how whiskey is made, check out our guides.

The Sensory Experience

Appearance

Aberlour 12 shows a deep amber hue, like the shifting colours of autumn leaves. It has a rich viscosity that clings to the glass in long, slow legs.

Aroma

The nose opens with sweet scents of honeycomb, ripe peach, and orange marmalade. Hints of raisins, cinnamon, and ginger add warmth. With time, subtle floral notes emerge.

Taste

On the palate, waves of honey, vanilla, and baked apple wash over. Traces of orange zest and milk chocolate come through. Mid-palate, the sweetness recedes as dried fruit, oak, and peppery spice emerge in perfect balance.

Finish

The long finish carries oak tannins, toasted nuts, and lingering gingerbread sweetness. A touch of smoke sneaks in at the very end.

Overall Impression

Elegant and harmonious, with diverse flavors seamlessly integrated. The mouthfeel is silky and substantial. An easy-sipping dram with hidden complexity.

Beyond the Bottle

Aberlour Distillery was founded in 1879 on the banks of the River Spey. It has changed hands over the years but retains its heritage. Aberlour 12 launched in 1997 as a refined, approachable Speyside single malt.

At around £33.50, Aberlour 12 offers outstanding value. It punches above its weight in flavour compared to other 12-year-old single malts. The sherry cask influence sets it apart from lighter, grassier drams.

For Whiskey Lovers

If you enjoy Aberlour 12’s fruity profile, try Glenfiddich 15 Solera Reserve for rich vanilla, apple and orange notes. For more sherry richness, check out Glendronach 12 Year. If you like the subtle smoke, explore Highland Park 12 Year.

This versatile whisky works well in casual sharing occasions or celebratory toasts. It makes a fine after-dinner sipper.

Who’s it For?

Aberlour 12 suits both casual sippers and seasoned Scotch explorers. Its balance of sweet and spice makes it an easy daily dram. But its complexity rewards slow savouring in the right moment. Sip it fireside on a cold night or share it with good company.

This versatile whisky works well in casual sharing occasions or celebratory toasts. It makes a fine after-dinner sipper perfect for the best whiskey for Christmas.

Cocktails & Food Pairings

Cocktail Suggestions

  • Aberlour Old Fashioned – Aberlour 12, orange liqueur, Angostura bitters
  • Aberlour Highball – Aberlour 12, ginger ale, lemon wedge
  • Aberlour Berry Fizz – Aberlour 12, muddled berries, lemon juice, soda water

Food Pairings

  • Appetizers – Baked brie and fig jam, duck liver pâté, spiced nuts
  • Entrees – Roast duck with cherry sauce, venison tenderloin, pork tenderloin with maple glaze
  • Desserts – Sticky toffee pudding, flourless chocolate cake with orange zest, bread pudding with dried fruits

Head-to-Head

Aberlour 12 has bolder flavour than lighter Speyside malts like Glenlivet 12 but more balance and softness than something heavily sherried like Macallan 12 Sherry Oak. It offers a more refined experience than Glenfiddich 12 at a similar price point.

The Verdict

With its elegant balance of fruity sweetness, spice, and subtle smoke, Aberlour 12 is an easy-drinking yet nuanced single malt. It outperforms its price tag in terms of quality and flavour complexity. For me, Aberlour 12 deserves 4 out of 5 stars for its delicious taste and outstanding value. I would absolutely buy a bottle again, as this Scotch makes for a refined yet approachable daily sipper. Sláinte!

Glossary

Ex-bourbon cask – Previously used American oak barrel that held bourbon whiskey

Ex-sherry cask – Previously used European oak barrel that held sherry wine

Non-chill filtered – Not chilled to remove compounds, leaves whisky “hazier” but more flavorful

Quarter cask – Smaller barrels with more wood contact during maturation

Single malt – Whisky made from malted barley at one distillery

INFO BOX

  • Price: £33.50
  • ABV: 40%
  • Region: Speyside, Scotland
  • Age: 12 Years

Let say that you’re curious about the differences between whiskey and bourbon, or want to explore some great underrated small batch bourbons, check out our other expert whiskey guides. And don’t forget – whiskey is gluten-free!

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