This a preview of an upcoming blog post
Aultmore was once found mostly in the blended whiskies of John Dewar & Sons (Dewar's White Label, Dewar's 12 Year Old, Dewar's 18 Year Old). It was rarely enjoyed on its own.
A glance at the bottle of Aultmore 12 reveals the following text:
A secluded site once known for smugglers and illicit stills, the FOGGIE MOSS, conceals our water's source and filters it through gorse and heather, purifying it to the profit of AULTMORE'S refined character. Our malted barley has no hint of peat smoke, ensuring the smoothest, cleanest taste. This rarest of SPEYSIDE classics has been distilled in handmade copper pot stills since 1897, yet for over a century it was only sold in limited editions aimed at collectors. Sometimes a sly taste of AULTMORE could be found in a few local bars, but only if you knew to ask for "a nip of the Buckie Road."
Evocative prose, indeed. You would be forgiven for thinking the distillery looked like something right out of Outlander.
The Aultmore distillery doesn't offer tours. It was re-built in 1971 with a more functional goal in mind; producing a consistent, reliable product to serve as a workhorse in Dewar & Sons' blends. So much for romanticism.
I have to say I was thrilled to see this bottled at a respectable 46% ABV, not chill-filtered and left at its natural colour. These may seem like little, inconsequential details, but those little details provide a very favourable first impression to this enthusiast.
Nose (undiluted): this is a classic Speyside, light and floral with some green fruit notes (pears, green apples, green grapes), there's a touch of light, floral vanilla, but it's balanced by a clean (albeit brief) citrus note. Lemon and lime. It's not a bruiser like Laphroaig or Octomore, but it's very well-balanced.
Palate (undiluted): slightly sharp arrival, medium-bodied and creamy, with more pear and green grape notes, there's a hint of cereal (barley) sweetness, but it's subdued and doesn't dominate.
Finish: clean, medium length finish, with a slightly drying astringency, there's a bit of lingering floral honey-sweetness at the very end which makes this very easy to sip.
Adding water opens up the flavour, but tones down the fruitiness of the nose a bit. The bouquet becomes more floral and the water allows the sweetness of the malted barley to come forward a bit. The sharp citrus notes are subdued when drinking Aultmore diluted and the vanilla and floral notes are more prominent. I prefered it neat, as it's bottled at 46% ABV, right in my sweet spot (anywhere from 45% to 50% ABV). This whisky is subtle, but very well-balanced. "Clean" is the word that keeps coming to mind. There are no "off" or "stray" notes. This may be a positive or negative, depending on your perspective. It's not incredibly complex, but what Aultmore does, it does very well. If you only appreciate big, bold and complex whiskies, you may find Aultmore 12 worthy of the derision that gave rise to its detractors' pet name for it; AultSNORE. I disagree. It's nice to have something in the vault that isn't a punch in the mouth. It doesn't differ much in price from Glenmorangie 10, it has a similar profile, but I'll take Aultmore over the basic Glenmorangie (which I happen to enjoy) any day.
@Astroke If your driving, and you happen to hit Halifax, I know of an orphan box of overproof rum looking for a home in the GTA.
@Robert99 The higher proof of Aultmore helps and I find it a bit more interesting than the Glenmorangie original, which I find very one-dimensional. Glenmo is all mid-range with a few high notes, if that makes sense. Aultmore has no serious bass notes, but there are some lower mid-range notes, if that makes sense. Aultmore isn’t super complex, but it’s more complete and rounded than Glenmorangie to my palate. I’ve also found Aultmore pairs nicely with a rich dessert, as it’s very “cleansing” for the palate.