The Aultmore distillery in Keith has a long and somewhat complicated history, as many distilleries in Scotland do. It originally opened in 1895 powered by water wheel (which was quickly retired and replaced with a steam engine that was in use for 70+ years, save for maintenance, during which time the water wheel would be brought back into use) under the control of Alexander Edward, who was also the owner of the Benrinnes distillery. By 1899 it was under new ownership, went bankrupt in that year, and reopened again in 1904 only to close yet again during World War I due to barley shortages. By the late 1920s it was operating at full capacity. It changed hands multiple times, but aside from a brief closure due to expansion in the late 1960s, operation continues to this day. Though they do release an eponymous bottling in small quantities, the majority of the whisky is destined for blended malts. This is a shame, since it is among the most classic Speyside single malts I have tried.
This Chambers Street Exclusive was aged in 600L sherry casks before being moved into sherry-refill octave casks for 9 months. Delicate, airy aromas of grapefruit zest and warm hazelnut are backed by more decadent notes of peach cobbler, fresh cut grass, and brown sugar. It has nice weight on the palate and is decidedly fruit-forward with underlying spice, honey, chocolate, and toffee notes. There is almost a nutty, briny note as well with a wisp of smoke that sneaks in on the finish. A very traditional dram, and one that you won’t see again.
Chambers Street Malt #1: Aultmore Octave #Q1244. Distilled in 2008, bottled in 2016 aged 7 years-old at 104.4 proof after 9 months in octave cask. 81 bottles produced. Tim Gagnon
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