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Aberlour SMWS 54.75 Refined, refreshing and redolent

Where have all the Sherry Casks gone?

1 580

WReview by @Wierdo

8th Jan 2020


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

My third bottle opened from the SMWS (I finished it at the weekend) is a 16 year old Aberlour matured for most of it's life in a refill bourbon cask and then moved to a heavily charred hogshead for the last couple of years.

Heavily charred casks have become de rigeur with Scottish distilleries lately. There use is trumpeted as something wonderfully innovative but my thoughts are that the truth is more likely that most of the time they are used to try to compensate for a lackluster initial maturation due to the spirit being put in a tired third or forth refill bourbon cask.

Anyway onto the whisky.


A lot of vanilla. A little spice. Peaches.


Not a lot that wasn't revealed on the nose. Vanilla, peaches, apricots, marzipan, spices and oak. Decent oily mouthfeel.


Quite long and drying.


Not a bad whisky by any stretch but not spectacular either. Feels a bit undermatured to me. Still quite spirit driven even at 16 years where you expect the cask to start calling the shots a bit more. If I'd have blind tasted this and been asked to guess the age I'd have said 12 years not 16.

I can see why Aberlour like to use Sherry casks. The sprit is quite light and with the balance of a sherry cask influence it would have taken on more depth and complexity. And then you get the Abunadh which everyone loves! As it is it lacks a bit of depth and complexity for my tastes.

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BlueNote commented

@Wierdo Not a ringing endorsement. Usually the SMWS is very good at choosing casks. I wonder if @bwmccoy has any experience or thoughts on this one.

4 months ago 1Who liked this?

Wierdo commented

@BlueNote It's not a terrible whisky and 80 isn't an awful score. It's a light whisky and that's probably the whisky style I like least. I wasnt expecting that when I brought an Aberlour as all the previous Aberlours I've tried have been fairly substantial. But then they've all been sherry casks. Some whiskies just suit Sherry casks best. I think Aberlour is one of those whiskies. I've sent a sample to @RianC so we'll perhaps see what he thinks of it.

Regards the SMWS. I'm going to put a long post on that thread in the next day or two. I had an irritating experience with them over Christmas. My membership is up for renewal in a couple of months and I'm seriously considering cancelling it.

4 months ago 4Who liked this?

BlueNote commented

@Wierdo I'll be interested in your experience with the SMWS. I have a friend who is having thoughts about whether the membership is worth it.

4 months ago 2Who liked this?

RianC commented

@Wierdo - ditto to @BlueNote . You don't seem to have had a great experience so far?! I'm keen to try it now ...

4 months ago 1Who liked this?

Wierdo commented

I've added a slightly ranty post to the 'Scotch Malt Whisky Society' thread!

4 months ago 1Who liked this?

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