We’ve been left Shed-shocked recently by some distressing news from the bottling team. The fabulous 11 year old Aultmore, drawn from a single refill sherry cask that I’ve been promising you, is now finally bottled. But sadly, the bottle count is lower than anticipated. Much lower.
Grab some tissues – this is a bit of a tearjerker. Well, it certainly was for us!
When the bottling team sent the Aultmore paperwork to Shed Quarters I near dropped my bacon sarnie. I’d asked for half of this cask to be bottled, with the rest returned to the depths of the warehouse for some extra maturing. When the stated yield was 77 bottles, I was a little unsettled to say the least. Whilst my lightning reflexes had saved my sandwich, I no longer had my appetite. By my crude calculation we had reportedly around 200 bottles missing from the cask.
It wasn’t long before an investigation was underway. All manner of paperwork was checked to ensure nothing was missed and incorrectly noted. The ABV hasn’t shifted much since it went into the cask so the angels were off the hook on this occasion, and our ever important testing over the years would only account for about 2 or 3 bottles at most so a thorough cask inspection took place.
It was soon discovered that our cherished cask had sprung a leak, probably 4 or 5 years ago, losing around 60% of its contents over a prolonged period, the rest saved by residing below the leakage point. After the leak, the ratio between the volume of whisky and how much of it is in contact with the cask changes dramatically. Hence the sherry notes came on surprisingly quickly over the last few years – the leak created a sort of quasi quarter cask arrangement.
As alarm bells go, this one chimes way too late anyway. Once you’ve noticed the change in the whisky you’re likely a year too late to do anything – you can just get on with mourning your loss. Leaks are a known risk and can easily go unnoticed in a large warehouse for a number of reasons.
In this case humidity and temperature changes that stress the wood have conspired to tear a barely perceptible gap in the cask. It’s a refill sherry cask that’s definitely seen some action and was looking towards retirement after it’s current assignment but it still showed it could carefully curate the spirit within, with a level of maturity if you will. However, its ability to withstand the fluctuations of temperature and humidity of the warehouse had waned. The leak went unnoticed in the large coastal warehouse, leaving just a small stain as evidence of the heinous crime.
Investigation aside this was an emotional blow for us all. We’d had the cask since it was a wee nipper so we were initially devastated at the news, but silver linings are what we look for here at Shed Quarters and there is a significant one. Sarah has far less labels to number! And… The cask has had a wonderful impact on the remaining whisky, effectively speeding up maturation due to the leak.
Now we have a delightful Aultmore 11 year old bottled for you. It displays a clean sherry finish that lets you get to know the delicate distillery character whilst delivering your favorite sherry notes.
Candied peel, orange, a touch of chocolate, baked raisins, and spices from the cask on the nose along with a subtle note of tinned peaches and vanilla custard.
The palate follows the nose delivering the sherry notes initially, forthright but never overwhelming the Aultmore spirit which itself has a delicate minerality and gentle herbal notes layered with honeyed floral elements and tiny touch of lemon meringue. There’s a warming spice as you’d expect and the dryness from the oak balances the sweeter aspects.
The finish is medium in length and heads towards the herbal and mineral notes with almost a chalky fizz right toward the very end.
It’s a very tasty whisky with great depths to explore and, ultimately, it’s all because cask 900019 sprung a leak. And it also now comes with a bona fide tale of woe.
So, wipe away those tears. Our bad news is now your good news! Although with just 77 bottles you may find yourself crying for those lost bottles too.
Release date coming very soon…