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The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2017
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Review #194: Aultmore 12 46% ABV, natural colour, non-chill-filtered
Distillery: Aultmore Distillery, Speyside, Scotland
Producer: Bacardi Ltd. (through John Dewar & Sons Ltd.)
Located in in an area called The Foggie Moss in the outskirts of the eastern Speyside village Keith, Aultmore distillery was founded during the whisky boom of the late 19th century. The town is also home to Strathisla and Strathmill distillery, and Aultmore is the youngest of the three. The name of the distillery is derived from the Gaelic ‘allt mhòr’, or ‘large stream’, in reference to the nearby river Isla. The distillery was founded by entrepreneur Alexander Edward, who at the age of 32 already owned Benrinnes distillery, which he had inherited from his father, as well as Craigellachie distillery, which he had co-founded in 1891. In 1896 he bought the land in the Foggie Moss from its previous owner, the Duke of Fife, and opened his third distillery, Aultmore the following year. Designed by famed distillery architect Charles Doig, the location of the distillery was chosen carefully, because of the excellent water supply as well as its proximity to the Great North Of Scotland Railway.
Production started in May 1897 and Edwards, who added Oban distillery to his portfolio the following year, was set to become an influential figure in the Scottish whisky industry. But the crisis in the whisky industry that struck the close of the 19th century, fuelled by overproduction and triggered by the collapse of the Pattison Blending Company at the end of 1898, almost put the young entrepreneur out of business. The distillery had to close for a few years, reopened in 1904, before being forced to close again with the outset of WWI in 1914. In the aftermath of the war, Edward was forced to sell Aultmore distillery to John Dewar & Sons in 1923. Ever since then, Aultmore has remained linked with the Dewar’s brand, and to this day is an important malt component in the Dewar’s range of blended Scotch.
John Dewar & Sons was acquired by Distillers Company Ltd (DCL), one of the predecessors of today’s Diageo, in 1925. The on-site malting floors were closed in 1968 and from 1970 to 71 the old distillery buildings were demolished, the distillery rebuilt from the ground up, and two additional stills added to double the capacity. In 1998, in an attempt to consolidate its vast assets, Diageo sold the Dewar’s brand, and with it five of it’s distilleries including Aultmore, to Bacardi Ltd for £1.1 million.
Except for a short lived bottling of Aultmore as part of United Distiller’s Flora & Fauna range in the early 1990′s, very little of the distillery output has been available as single malt over the years, and to this day the distillery is still largely unknown by whisky drinkers. This is in no small part due to the importance of Aultmore in the Dewar’s range. But alas, in recent years the five Bacardi distilleries, Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Craigellachie, Royal Brackla and Glen Deveron, have all been given some more attention by Bacardi’s marketing department and have been (re-)released under the moniker ‘Last Great Malts’. In 2014 the current Aultmore range was launched with a 12 year old, 18 year old, 21 year old travel-retail-only as well as a 25 year old bottling. All are bottled at 46% ABV, are not chill-filtered and natural in colour. The 12 year old is matured entirely in ex-bourbon casks.
Eye: The Aultmore 12 comes in an off-white cardboard tube with a simple yet elegant black typeface. The bottle has a classic apothecary shape with the distillery name embossed into the glass and a large cork stopper. Both the tube lid and the stopper are sealed with a paper banderole. The whisky is pale straw in colour.
Nose: Astringent and slightly sharp with lemon sherbet, green apple, pear, hay, ginger, white pepper, celery and icing sugar. Lots of subtle complexity.
Palate: Mouthwatering thanks to quite a bit of acidity that nicely balances the underlying sweetness. Crisp apple, underripe pear, grapefruit and tart lime, sorrel, agave nectar, cereal, macadamia nut, vanilla. Somewhat spirity with quite a bit of peppery spice mid-palate, followed by some herbaceous flavours with a slightly bitter lemon pith note.
Finish: Medium length, remaining fresh and lively with preserved lemon and slight oak tannin, yeast and continued bitter citrus flavours.
Verdict: Wonderfully zesty and delicious with a great sweet-sour balance and profound complexity for a 12 year old whisky. Does not need any water despite the higher ABV. Incredibly well crafted and moreish. 88/100
Other people’s opinion of the Aultmore 12:
Some cows on the road from Portree to Elgol.
Wtf is this. Wtf IS THIS!!! THIS IS BULLSHIT. America gets a fuCKIN FULL SOLAR ECLIPSE. AND SCOTLAND GETS THIS!!! This IS SOME BULLshiT!!!!!
Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye, Scotland
From Harry Potter’s King’s cross station all the way North to Edinburgh, Scotland.
I have never seen armed police in Edinburgh, other than at the Airport……sad days. This is not the norm but perhaps needed in the climate we are enduring just now, I say again, sad days…….