Aberlour Distillery was founded in 1879 by James Fleming, the son of a local farmer. Fleming had supplied grain to other local distilleries for years and dreamt of one day owning his own. He would realise this dream when he acquired land in the village of Charlestown of Aberlour – named after it’s founder, Charles Grant of Elchies, though much more commonly known, then and now, as Aberlour.
The land Fleming bought included a good water source in the form of St. Drostan’s Well, named after a Scottish Abbot who was trained by St. Columba. Drostan was one of the 12 ‘Brethren of Columba’ who accompanied the famed Saint from Ireland to Scotland around 563AD. There are only a few shreds of historical evidence regarding Drostan and there are some contradictions but the story goes that Columba and his followers travelled from Iona to Buchan where, after curing the son of the local chief of illness, they were given land on which to build a monastery. When Columba later returned to Iona he left Drostan behind to serve as the Abbot. Later, Drostan’s sought the existence of a hermit and travelled north to Aberdeenshire where he is said to have performed miracles and according to legend, baptised many locals in the same body of water that now feeds Aberlour Distillery. Once again, historical records to back this up are thin on the ground but it scarcely matters, the well bears his name for one reason or another and thus it will remain. In any case it’s fun to ponder what these ancient holy men would think about such sacred water being used to make Uisge Beatha.
Aberlour’s early years were tough, it had to be rebuilt in 1879 and 1898 respectively, after twice being detroyed by fire. Since then it has been passed from owner to owner through the years before finally finding a steady home in the 70’s with Pernod Ricard. Today it is part of Pernod’s Chivas Brothers whisky portfolio with a core range made up of a 12 year old, 12 Year Old Sherry Cask, 15 Year Old Double Cask Matured, 16 Year Old, 18 Year Old and A’Bunadh (which I have previously reviewed and which still sits atop the whiskyreviews.net hitlist).
For the purposes of this review I’m going to be looking at the 10 Year Old. There seems to be some confusion over this whisky (certainly on my part). There were rumours that this particular expression was to be discontinued and indeed it doesn’t appear on their website, however for the time being at least it is still present in many shops and online retailers at the time of writing. It’s something of a budget single malt, selling for around £25 and often cheaper in big supermarket chains.
At first on the nose there’s a big hit of Sherry notes like Raisins & Sultana’s. There’s Orange, Brown Sugar and Honeycomb. Over time in the glass the Sherry fades a little and some Vanilla, Honey and Lemon come through. There’s decent weight to it on the palate for such a low priced whisky and it has flavours of Orange, Caramel, Winter Spices like Cinnamon and Cloves and a little Sherbet. On the eye it’s suspiciously orange so it looks like there’s been a healthy dose of colourant added but we can’t be too judgemental at £25 a bottle.
The Scores: About the Scoring System…
Smell: 16 / 20. Almost seems like a sherry monster at first but settles down into something a little less in your face, yet still enjoyable.
Taste: 16 / 20. Pleasant on the palate with good texture and bags of flavour.
Value for money: 9 / 10. OK, it’s only 40% and it glows orange but it remains a good dram for the price.
Overall: 41 / 50. For anyone wondering where to get started in the world of single malt scotch this is an excellent entry point – and it won’t break the bank. For the more experienced drinker, it’s an affordable dram with which you can switch off and enjoy.