It’s no secret that sherry-finished Scotch is a great sub-category of whisky, but the new Aberlour Casg Annamh adds another fathom to the depths of its greatness. Casg Annamh is the latest from master distiller Graeme Cruickshank, whose tenure has been peppered with awards for himself and the whiskies he oversees.
Aberlour is perhaps best known for its other cask strength, sherry-influenced Aberlour A’Bunadh, a rich, chocolate and raisin whisky with winter-ready, syrupy dried fruit notes and a modest oak spice dryness on the finish. There’s a nearly empty bottle in our collection.
Casg Annamh is built on the same formula: cask strength, highlight the casks. But this whisky is cranked up in brightness and freshness. Sure, Annamh is still syrupy with fruit notes, and dry and spicy on the finish, but the fruits are not muted.
Rather, they’re bold, bright, and fresh, with raisin and plum notes (and a surprising background note of peach) really coming to the front in a welcoming way. It’s sweeter in a way that highlights freshness, not volume of sugar (think ripe berries fresh off the vine, versus those bought out of season).
Part of this is likely due to some innovations in Aberlour maturation. According to the distillery, this is its first triple matured whisky, utilizing a mixture of sherry casks and two formats of American oak, one bigger, one smaller.
The mixture of the three is what brings all of these flavors together: tropical fruits and toffee from the American oak, and rich, dark fruit notes and deeper levels of oak spice from the sherry casks. Other distilleries do this with varying levels of success. This is what a good one looks like.
It’s truly a great sipping whisky, and and at least on our end, it led to a deeper appreciation for the complexity of these sherry cask whiskies in Aberlour’s portfolio.
But more than a helpful academic aid for whisky nerds, Casg Annamh is a shockingly low-priced, limited edition treat. At $65 suggested for retail, it’s by far one of the best things you’ll be able to buy for under $100 in the month of October.
We’re likely to see awards attached to this bottle in the next 12 months, even if we have to give them ourselves, but the problem of course is that 12 months from now all of this whisky will be gone. Only 6,000 bottles will be coming to the U.S.—a number far smaller than many of the most-hyped limited edition bourbons produced every year.