The single malt Aberlour is one of the highest regarded whiskies in Japan, so it is fitting that while we were draining the contents of a bottle of Hibiki at Wasabi in Mumbai, Pernod Ricard announced the availability of Aberlour at duty-free stores in Mumbai and New Delhi. All three variants — 12, 16 and 18 Year Old — of the iconic whisky created by one of Scotland's quirkiest distilleries are now available on sale from $53-111.
Founded in 1879 by James Fleming, a man of business and a philanthropist at heart, the distillery has a cult following in select markets because of its low volume of production. Built next to a bubbling brook, it combines elements of the traditional architecture of older buildings with some key features of new ones to create a skyline that is evocative of the continuity that is a part of the Speyside heritage.
On a tour at Aberlour, we had the opportunity to sample all three malts. Matured in cherry casks, the 12 Year Old had characteristic sweet notes that blended with a citrus flavour. Could ageing improve its taste? Yes, if that meant casking in both sherry and bourbon barrels for up to 16 years to create a single malt blend that was creamier on the palate and boasted of a richer depth. It was my favourite, much better than the spicier 18 Year Old, and so fine that it could have been a liqueur. We certainly drank it like one.
With a number of awards to its credit, Aberlour has been on the radar of those who cherish their single malts. And though it will never become a mass whisky thanks to the low volumes churned out by the distillery, it is a notable addition to the bar of the discerning whisky-drinker in India, who will no longer have to wonder how to get a bottle or two as a special treat.