Aberlour 8 Years Old from the 1960s (Twice!)
I’ve been sitting on these samples for a long while but now the time has finally come to dive into the two oldest Aberlour I’ve ever tasted. Both are 8 years old and from the same series, just distilled one year apart. And from the taste of it they’ve matured in very different cask types.
Nose: Great first impression. Intense sherry maturation with a good complexity. Notes of eucalyptus, leather, mushrooms and herbs, but also orange zest, caramel, damp oak and milk chocolate. Classic old school sherry matured whisky.
Taste: Subtle sweet notes on the arrival with some intense spicy notes (cloves, cinnamon, a pinch of pepper) and a proper creaminess. Just a touch of aceto balsamico and a whiff of sulphur. Finally a whisper of plums, dark chocolate (85%+ cacao) and raw sugar.
Finish: More of the above. Long.
Nose: Fresh notes of pine and resin, this is clearly very different from its predecessor. Much lighter in colour also (even though the photo doesn’t really reflect the difference). Touches of furniture polish, honey, beeswax and black tea. There’s even a whisper of menthol. After a little while some orchard fruits pop up, mainly pear skin. Finally a whiff of lemon zest.
Taste: Creamy, waxy and pretty sweet at first, not unlike Sauternes finished whisky. Some soft citrus fruits, but mainly spices and oaky bitterness.
Finish: A touch drying. Straight-forward orchard fruits.
Two very different whisky’s that I never would’ve attributed to the same distillery. In part that has to do with the different cask types used for maturation. The 1964 is heavily sherried—youthful in some aspects but mature in others. The 1965 is much more subtle and obviously less sherry-influenced. Also, I’m not entirely sure that bottle maybe hasn’t been stored in optimal conditions.
I expected the two to be closer together, but this was a great head-to-head either way. I’d say I’m pretty spoiled, but I don’t get to try 1960s single malt whisky too often.
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.