Aultmore 2000 46% (Gordon + MacPhail)

Our October tasting session had a theme of ‘go slow’… let the whisky evolve… Each had its unique character and each needed proper time and focused attention to unravel its mysteries.

We also went back to our original ’spit the 1st sip’ approach – helping us better calibrate our palate to appreciate the three distinctly different whiskies.

Our first whisky of the evening was yet another treat from independent bottler Gordon & MacPhail – this time a delicate Speyside from Aultmore.

Altmore 2000

Aultmore 2000

Aultmore 2000 46% (Gordon & MacPhail’s Connoisseurs Choice), Bottled in 2014
  • Colour – Light straw
  • Nose – Floral fruity, ripe peach, sweet and very inviting, has a sense of being velvety smooth, exceedingly tempting, as it opens a bit of nougat
  • Palate – Initial ‘1st whisky’ hint of being bitter, then after our first swish & spit, the next sip revealed a delicious honey, mild spice. For once the palate is every bit as good as the nose promised, exceedingly well-balanced, delicate yet still manages to coat the palate from top to bottom, balanced and oh so smooth and creamy
  • Finish – Some debate as the initial impression was the finish was quite limited… yet still felt satisfying. As we ‘tuned’ ourselves to the nuanced character, began to appreciate that in fact it has a long subtle finish, really quite delicious!
  • Water – Don’t… Water does not enhance and makes it seem terribly young with a spicy kopra
  • Impressions – Like a delicate Japanese or Chinese paper cut, very well-rounded, very easy to drink…

Speculation… As we sample blind, we began to assess our thoughts about the whisky. It vaguely reminds of Glenmorangie in its light fruity floral sweet character yet different. Age was a bit difficult to gage – not very young but also not too old. Certainly not more than 16 years… Sense that the alcohol hovered around 43% given its light approachability.

The reveal… Our first as a tasting group from this distillery and yet another ‘hit’ from independent bottlers Gordon & MacPhail. It is getting to the stage where we can blindly grab anything from their Connoisseurs Choice line!

Our host shared that he briefly sampled it at a whisky event in Europe. While normally such light whiskies are not his personal preference – this one stood out as something compelling enough to explore further. We agreed!

Knowing it is a light whisky and would be the first of the evening, he chilled the whisky for 45 mins in the fridge before serving to help ensure the viscosity for our tasting.

Our conclusion was that this was the kind of whisky  you would just sip on your own while reading a good book, curled up with a cosy blanket on a cool evening. Something to slowly enjoy its subtle range of aromas and taste. It doesn’t need conversation. It doesn’t need company. It is for those times you simply want to relax in quiet comfort.

Here’s what the Gordon & MacPhail folks have to say about this Aultmore:

  • Matured in a refill American hogshead and refill sherry hogshead. Natural colour. Non chill filtered.

Without Water:

  • Nose – The whisky has herbal, dried apricot and raisin aromas with hints of charred oak.
  • Taste – Delicate fruitiness, with red apple and pear flavours. Festive spices and a touch of oiled wood linger.

With Water:

  • Nose – Toasted malt and sweet summer fruit aromas, blueberry and raspberry. A subtle cinnamon edge lingers.
  • Taste – Peppery and sweet with hints of green apple and plum. Becomes creamy with a smooth milk chocolate edge.

Previously Aultmore was rarely available as a single malt beyond independent bottlers, instead found as part of popular blends like Dewars.

Some may recall that I tried a couple Aultmores on my July London trip – both the 12 and 21 year – part of Bacardi’s “Last Great Malts of Scotlandrange. I was surprised to find them so appealing – and recall being impressed that the promise of the nose followed through on the palate.

I, for one, look forward to both exploring more Aultmore and more from Gordon & MacPhail!

The other whiskies we sampled in October included:

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Glen Deveron 20 year

This will forever be known as the evening when a mere three-year old out-classed a twenty year old… read on…

Glen Deveron 20 year

As usual, our merry malt sippers tasted ‘blind’ three different whiskies, revealing the sample after snipping, swishing, swallowing and hopefully savouring!

On this evening, our whiskies were carefully ordered by age – 3 year, 16 year and closed  with this 20 year.

Glen Deveron 20 year

  • Colour – Dark amber…. So dark couldn’t help speculate perhaps some of the colour was ahem… enhanced?
  • Nose – Sweet all spice, some jackfruit, banana pie, perhaps a hint of caramel too?
  • Taste – Oily sweet, sherry with caramelized orange
  • Finish – Fresh mint, brass
  • Water? Spice and nothing else

Reactions – Oddly disappointing… perhaps as the Blair Athol 16 year had such an unmistakable character or the Chichibu ‘The Floor Malted’ 3 year was such an interesting start, the Glen Deveron didn’t stand out. The nose was promising, taste was somewhat familiar and the finish had more of that toothpaste mint than a fresh sprig.

The reveal – None had thought it was 20 year… with such an age, it is entirely possible the colour is natural. However goes to show our minds came to different conclusions based on our experience with the whisky which simply did not have the complexity and depth we seek in more mature whiskies.

While I initially blithely listed this as “Glen Deveron” distillery, turns out it is actually part of Macduff distillery, which was acquired by William Lawson Distillers, which became part of the Martini & Rossi corporation in 1980, acquired by Bacardi in 1992, who put their subsidiary John Dewar & Sons in charge of the Macduff distillery. So… think I’ll stick with calling it Macduff?!

So… this release from Macduff distillery is part of their Royal Burgh of Banff Collection with 16, 20 and 30 year releases for the duty-free market.

Chichibu, Blair Athol, Glen Deveron

So does age really matter? At the hands of a master, apparently a mere 3-year-old ‘toddler’ can out-class a 20-year-old ‘adult’!

For those curious to read more about the other whiskies:

PS a few years later, this Glen Deveron 20 year surfaced again

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