Whisky Reviews

Square Barrel (Aultmore 16 y.o.)


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I recently came across Square Barrel whisky, a concept that was first developed in the 1850’s. The idea behind this most unusual barrel shape was to make the transport of whisky on board ships safer, which I would imagine it did, but the unfortunate consequence is of course that it will have been rather more difficult to move the barrels around (as any physicist or engineer will confirm for those of you in doubt, square barrels will be far less suitable for rolling on their side than their rounded counterparts). Anyway, the shape didn’t catch on too well and the innovative square barrel – which was also more difficult to make than a standard shape – failed to outmaneuver (see what I did there?) its round-cheeked predecessor.

As with most things whisky related, though, it would only be a matter of time before someone rediscovered and rebirthed the concept; enter the Square Barrel Whisky Company – any guesses what they specialize in? With a slogan as good as “It’s hip to be square” and a beautiful looking bottle (at least for the expression I’ve got my hands on, the Aultmore 16), it’s hard to see how the venture could possibly fail.

Okay maybe it’s not that hard, the whisky could be complete rubbish. Luckily, it’s not! Before stepping aside to let my nose and palate have their say, I would like to once again state how gorgeous the bottle is – I would, in fact, recommend it based solely on that basis. Anywho. The nose has a quite sophisticated and sweet character with lots of fancy and overly expensive Waitrose-type honey, warm ripe autumn fruit, freshly caramelized apple (with still-sticky sugar) and gentle flowers. The palate is smooth and rich, with golden syrup, malt, warm fudge (in particular, it reminds me of some fresh fudge I had at the Fudge Kitchen on the Royal Mile, which I would warmly recommend if you’re ever in town), a touch of cinnamon and some spice.

While my judgement may be slightly tinted by my love for the packaging, I think this is a fantastic whisky. The nose is nice and full without being over the top, and I really like the honey notes it’s got going on; the palate is better yet. I do have a further comment about the palate, but I’m sort of scared to put forward as it may sound a bit odd. It reminds me of Bowland’s Cinnamon and Apple cheese, except for the actual cheese-flavor; it has the same cinnamon and apple flavors, along with the smooth texture.

I hope that last comment doesn’t scare anyone off! If you’ve tried the cheese on a digestive cookie, it certainly shouldn’t. There is one bit of information that I’ve deliberately held back thus far, and that’s the price – a bottle will set you back $62 if you get it straight off their website. If your budget will allow for it, though, I’d recommend it.

Eye: Dark sandy gold.

Nose: Sophisticated & sweet, fancy honey, warm autumn fruit, caramelized apple, gentle floweriness.

Mouth: Smooth & rich, golden syrup, malt, fresh warm fudge, cinnamon, spice,  Bowland cinnamon and apple cheese (minus the cheese!).

About Whisky Critic

My name is Martin and I live in Scotland. I love fine things in life, such as gourmet food, travelling around the world and, last but not least, whisky (naturally, I’m partial to a tipple of whiskey or bourbon as well). I have tasted hundreds of whiskies during the recent years and I finally decided to share my experience.

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1 Comment

  1. Joshua Feldman

    March 8, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Is that barrel in the photograph the actual **bottle** this whiskey comes in? What a stunner. I have to say, such a bottle would make me actually LESS likely to buy the whiskey as it kind of offends my value instinct (I want to pay for careful whiskey crafting – not packaging). However the flavor profile you describe sounds really nice.

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