Bold? Am I bold and 'cheeky' to assert that a mild-mannered 'little old' Speyside whisky like Aberlour 10 yo can be a 'destination whisky'?
I think not. I very much consider myself to be a card-carrying member of the 'Big Flavours Club'. After all, if you gave me my 'druthers, my #1 preferred whisk(e)y strength would be 68-72% ABV, something almost unimaginably strong for Scottish Malt drinkers, but obtainable with American whiskeys. Sure, fave Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye is a mere 62-65% ABV, but it is TRYING to be strong, and flavourful...
But, I don't just like the Big Flavours whiskies alone. If I did I'd have to toss the majority of Scotch out the window, and I LIKE the majority of Scotch.
Power is not all, even power-combined-with-beauty is not all,...there is ALWAYS a place for beauty alone.
And that is where a whisky like Aberlour 10 comes in... mild-mannered, beautiful, perfectly balanced, refreshing. I can only speak of the two bottles of it from which I have sampled, but they were quite consistent with one another, even though one was a restaurant bar bottle of indeterminate age.
This much-taken-for-granted malt is not currently distributed in the USA. Many thanks to @Pudge72 for procuring a bottle for me in Ontario. The reviewed bottle has been open a little less than one year, and has changed very little in its flavours during that period.
Nose: moderate intensity beautiful aromatic malt, wine, and floral flavours, and a bit of vanilla
Taste: as in the nose, beautiful malt, wine, and floral flavours of rose and carnation
Finish: really quite long for a mild-mannered pretty sort of whisky. All of the flavours hold up well. Lovely
Balance: 'Big Flavours Only' whisky buffs tend to look down their noses at Aberlour 10. I consider this to be a grossly underestimated whisky. My bottle of Aberlour 10 has some of the best balance I have ever encountered in a whisky, and I personaly prefer it to both the Aberlour 12 yo and Aberlour 16 yo expressions. I consider Aberlour 10 yo to be one of the very best examples of a beautiful extremely well-balanced mild-mannered malt, along with the now scarce Balvenie 10 yo Founders Reserve.
Is Aberlour 10 yo a "Starter Whisky"? Yes, if you're very lucky to start here. It is also a "Finisher Whisky". Is this a "Beginner's Malt", only? Totally ridiculous. I sip this when I am in the same mood for beauty as when I reach for Talisker 18 or Bushmills 21.
In a category of mildly-flavoured malt whiskies Aberlour 10 easily rates 95 from me for its perfect balance. Among all whiskies I rate Aberlour 10 90/100, which merely reflects my overall preference for strong flavours and completely undiluted whiskies.