Aberlour 18 Years Review

“Underpowered Speysider”

Whisky Review # 694

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Aberlour 
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 18 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: Mix of Bourbon and Sherry Casks  
Chill Filtration: Yes       
Price Range: US$ 70-100 (March 2018). 
Buying Advice: 😏 Unfavourable P/Q ratio. Go for the A'Bunadh instead!

Colour: Golden Auburn (Artificially Coloured)


Sweet & Fruity with some Sour, Herbal and Floral elements. The Alcohol is not fully integrated. The Sherry cask influence is noticeable but not overwhelming.

Main Aromas:

Vanilla, Butter Biscuits, Toffee, Peach, Orange, Banana, Apple, Floral Soap and Milk Chocolate.  

Supportive Aroma Accents

Sweet Barley, Brown Sugar, Heather-Honey, Marzipan, Grass, light Nutmeg, light Pepper, light Cinnamon, Nuts, Sherry, Mint, Apricot, light Licorice and light Oak.



Bitter-Sweet, Fruity and slightly Thin. A few Sour elements as well. Perhaps a tad of Sulphur but nothing serious. The Alcohol remains noticeable. The Sherry cask influence is more clear now.

Main Flavours:

Vanilla, Toffee/Caramel, Milk Chocolate, Apple, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas and Apricot, Peach, Mandarin/Orange, Grapefruit, Strawberry, Pepper, Nutmeg, Mint and Oak.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Sweet Barley, Heather-Honey, Nuts, Plums, Lemon, Cinnamon, Licorice, light Leather, Grass and Earth.


Middle-Long, Bitter Sweet and slightly Thin. Dry towards the end. The Alcohol gives a little Kick. Oak, Spices and Herbs are more noticeable. I find Caramel, Vanilla, Dried Fruit like Raisins and Apricots, Floral Soap, Milk Chocolate, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Mint and Licorice.     

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and the Nose becomes rather Floral. The Alcohol retreats of course. Peach and Banana become even more noticeable. Palate and Finish become too thin and lifeless. Better sip it neat despite the Alcohol.

Rating: 83.5      

Nose: 21 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 21

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General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery and Today's Whisky:

The Aberlour distillery was founded in 1879 by James Fleming and is located in the small town of Aberlour in Banffshire. Since 1974 it is owned by Chivas Brothers (Pernod Ricard). The core range includes the 12, 16 and 18 Years but their most loved expression is the A' Bunadh that matures in Oloroso casks and is bottled at Cask Strength. We visited the distillery in May 2014. Great Tour and Tasting Session where you can fill and label your own bottle of Aberlour. You need to pay for that bottle of course. But the Distillery is certainly worth a visit!

The Aberlour 18 Years was initially released for the French market only. But in 2008 it was introduced to the rest of the world as well.

🍷  The Spirit:

Aberlour operates two pairs of stills. The Lyne arms point slightly downwards and produce a Medium-Bodied, Sweet, Fruity, Malty and Spicy Spirit. The Spirit is partly used in Blends like Clan Campbell and House of Lords. The Water is sourced from a spring on Ben Rinnes. Aberlour is the best selling Single Malt in France.

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🌲  The Wood:

The 18 Years matures in a mix of Refill Ex-Bourbon and Refill Ex Sherry casks. (Mainly Oloroso but with a few PX casks as well).

Drinking Experience:

Good but slightly on the Thin side. This would be a lot better when bottled at Cask Strength. The success of the A' Bunadh series proves this point.


The Aberlour 18 Years is a Fruity and Floral Speyside Single Malt that most likely matured in a mixture of good and average Bourbon and Sherry casks. Both Nose and Palate are a bit underpowered. The 18 Years misses the strength of the A' Bunadh expressions. Despite the relatively low ABV, the Alcohol is quite noticeable throughout. The age of the Spirit only becomes clear in the Finish so I must assume that at least a percentage of the casks was not very active. At 18 Years a whisky can't be cheap of course but based on my tasting notes I must conclude that the price/quality ratio for the 18 Years is unfavourable. If you like Aberlour, like I do, you'd better go for the A' Bunadh expressions.

Jan van den Ende                                                                      March 5, 2018

* Please Note there are a few problems with the colours in the text but this will be resolved in the next review!

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