Whisky Advocate

Review: Aberlour 18 year old

January 5th, 2011

Aberlour, 18 year old, 43%, $100

There was an Aberlour 18 on the market for a spell several years ago, aged in sherry casks, that I really enjoyed. Now we have this new 18 year old expression. There are big shoes to fill, and this whisky fills them quite nicely. Once again, the sherry is prominent throughout, with its lush fruit, velvety texture, and sweet demeanor. But it’s not cloying or sappy — the sherry blends in nicely with the rest of the flavors. Ripe orange, apricot preserve, peach cobbler, chocolate-covered caramel, and toffee, with a sprinkling of cinnamon and cocoa. Rich, silky smooth, satisfying finish. Very impressive. The Aberlour 18 year old’s reputation remains intact!

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 91

24 Responses to “Review: Aberlour 18 year old”

  1. barryjay says:

    Aberlour 12 was one of my first bottles that I bought when I first entered into the world of Whisky. Since then, nothing that they produce has been a dissapointement. Looking forward to it.

  2. Cayman says:

    How would you compare this to the Aberlour A’Bunadh? This is one of my favorite Highland drams, but is it worth it to spend 40 dollars more for the 18? And is this one chill filtered?

  3. B.J. Reed says:

    Obviously not the sherry power of Abundah but how would you compare the two John? Do you consider the Abundah “sappy” in comparison?

  4. The a’bunadh was my second ever dram (after a 10 Laphroaig), and I think it spoiled me for Sherry monsters: I wasn’t able to enjoy an Aberlour 12 I had recently because I kept mentally comparing it to the a’bunadh. I have the same question as B.J., above: how does the 18 compare?

  5. John Hansell says:

    B.J. hit it on the head! A’bunadh is sappier with more lush fruit. The 18’s sherry is more balanced with the extra oak aging. Whether you like the one over the other really depends on what style you like better.

  6. H.Diaz says:

    I love the dumpy bottles Aberlour now uses. Save your Macallan money and look for Aberlour, a better value and whisky when looking for sherry flavored malt.

  7. PeterD says:

    I don’t personally find that to be the case (Macallan vs Aberlour). I have and enjoy both the Cask Strength Macallan and Aberlour A’bunadh. Both wonderfully-sherried but the Macallan (for me) is a far nicer dram on balance. I find it warm and mellow with a better mouth-feel than the A’bunadh, which I find a tad too “dry” for lack of a better term. I enjoy them both, but I’d take the Macallan C.S. (at roughly $60 a bottle) over A’bunadh at roughly $75.

    That said, I’d love to do a side-by-side with the 18 YO Aberlour. Better still, try that side-by-side with an 18 YO Macallan, which I think is my overall favourite whisky in the world (well, overall of the ones mere mortals can afford!).

    • Henry H. says:

      You know, I’ve had A’bunadh from two different batches (at least), and they were quite different. I’d choose the first batch over most any reasonably priced sherried Macallan any day. The second was much more drying, wildly spicy, and just way more to contend with overall.

      In other words, your mileage may vary batch by batch.

    • MaltExplorer says:

      What a coincidence, just two days ago I’ve purchased both, Macallan 10 CS 58.4% (49 EUR 1L) and Aberlour A’bunadh batch 31 60.5% (39 EUR 0.7L). So far I’ve only tasted the Macallan which I quite liked but was disappointed with a very short finish. I’ll taste them head to head tonight.

  8. Rick H says:

    I must be in the minority. Of all the Scotch malts I have (currently 18) one of the four that I am not really enjoying is the A’bunadh (I think it’s #30). Tastes so much like vinyl. Hard to get past that. The others I don’t like are Glenkinchie 12, Longmorn 16, and Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban (the only Glenmorangie I haven’t enjoyed too, go figure).

    I do however love the Aberlour 16. And I bought a friend a bottle of the 12 and we both love that one too.

  9. Texas says:

    I am a little concerned about the price. The Aberlour 16 is very good and I can buy it everyday for $58. This is aged two years longer and it is nearly double the price? Maybe when it gets into stores (haven’t seen it anywhere, even online) the price will be lower..maybe $75?

    • Henry H. says:

      I’m with Texas here. The 16 is a luscious dram at an extremely reasonable price. The 18 intrigues, but I wouldn’t move up at that price.

  10. lawschooldrunk says:

    Oh, does the picture look delicious!

  11. D.Houston says:

    I am a huge Aberlour fan and i think the 10 yr old is the best Scotch on the market with relation to price $38 , but the 16 beats them all and is worth the extra money $69. I agree with all your calls Rick H so i must be in the minority as well, though the Aberlour 12 doesn’t impress me much either. Can’t wait to find the 18 yr old and give it a try.

  12. B.J. Reed says:

    I did pick up an Aberlour 14 YO (63.3 ABV) that you could bottle at the distillery that is strictly aged in ex bourbon casks and it is fantastic – They also had a Sherry cask you could bottle from as well but an Aberlou that is only from a bourbon cask is much harder to find. Add to this the Duncan Taylor NC2 range 12 YO that John ranked very highly a few months ago and you have to say this distillery is making a mark for itself.

    • John Hansell says:

      When Amy and I were at the distillery several years back, we got one of each–bourbon and sherry cask. I hope my good friends at the distillery won’t be offended, but I actually ended up blending the two together. I have a blend of about 3/4 bourbon cask and 1/4 sherry cask that kicks ass!

      • Henry H. says:

        John, you’ve mentioned this before, and it makes me just as jealous this time!

      • B.J. Reed says:

        Thought about getting both but budget was running low (and I got the sherry for my boss) 🙂 I won’t tell them you did if you don’t 🙂

  13. Andre Girard says:

    Can’t be worst than the 10yo expression. For me it remains one of the worst scotch ever.

    The fruity, sherry and christmas cake flavours make’s the 16yo version a must try. But can’t beat the Abunadh versions even if the quality can be pretty different between the batch numbers.

    Tried about 7 different batches and the 21 remains my favorite.

  14. Lawrence says:

    Aberlour is a sensational distillery and the 10yo is a very good dram IMHO but each to his own.

  15. George Jetson says:

    Aberlour has always done a much better job of cask management IMHO than Macallan. While the highs may be higher for Macallan, the stinkers ruined the impulse buying that I used to do. Aberlour overall has always had a very steady and consistently good quality product line. It remains my preferred “go to” sherried-style whisky and one which I don’t necessarily need to have a review in hand before buying. As an aside, I have to mention the wonderfully balanced Amrut Intermediate Sherry now that it is finally available in the U.S. I am looking forward to a h-t-h between the Aberlour 18 and the AIS.

  16. PeterD says:

    If their cask management is that good, I’m wondering what other variables are in play that make the differences between batches of A’bunadh so completely different? I just finished batch 26 and opened a bottle of batch 30 and the differences are striking (and not in a good way with batch 30 IMHO).

  17. Rick H says:

    @PeterD: Exactly. I bought a bottle of A’bunadh when visiting Edinburgh back in June. I tasted the batch 28 or 29, but the only one they had in stock was 30 and that is what came home with me. It’s absolutely awful. Tastes like vinyl.

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