SMWS 54.78 “Sugarcane Flowers in Speyside” Aberlour 16 Year Rum Cask Finish (2002)

Scotch Whisky Review #276: SMWS 54.78 “Sugarcane Flowers in Speyside” Aberlour 16 Year Rum Cask Finish (2002)

Distillery: Aberlour

Bottler: SMWS

Region: Speyside

Age: 16 year. Distilled October 2nd, 2002 and bottled in 2019.

ABV: 60.40% Cask Strength

Cask Type: 16 years in ex-bourbon, finished in refill Nicaraguan rum casks.

Price: Sample courtesy of /u/DangerousDoorknob

Color: 0.6, Old Gold. Natural Color and Non-Chill Filtered


Nose: The mental image that pops up while smelling this is like being by a lake in the summer. There’s a bit of freshly cut grass along with other vegetation. Some floral notes come through, particularly violets with something that reminds me of Parma Violets, along with a little bit of lemon zest.

Palate: There’s a ton of honey and loads of it. It isn’t quite “I feel like I’m biting into a honeycomb” levels of honey, but it’s just short of that. There’s also something that is somewhere between crystallized honey and raw sugar. It reminds me of kkul-tarae (꿀타래) / Dragon’s Beard. Popping fruit jellies come in afterwards in tropical fruit flavorings. Being north of 60% ABV, it does come with a bit of heat but a few drops of water cools it down very nicely without any loss of flavor.

Finish: Medium in length. A darker sugar (perhaps turbinado?) comes through strongly. A bit of vanilla and crystallized honey are present as well. There is a little bit of a firey note that I seem to get every so often in a rum cask whisky, I’ve not quite placed a finger on it.


Conclusion: SMWS’ naming scheme can be a bit wonky but they’ve got this one nailed down fairly nicely this time. This Aberlour is chock full of sugary notes with raw sugar, kkul-tarae/Dragon’s Beard candy, and crystallized honey being front and center. The little bit of floral notes in the nose and the bit of tropical fruit in the palate keep things from being too one dimensional. All and all, a really fun and tasty whisky. Would I buy a bottle? If I had a SMWS membership, I’d want one of these for sure.

Final Score: 83.

Scotch Whisky Review #276, Speyside Review #102, Whisky Network Review #419


Scoring Legend:

  • 96-100: The perfect dram, nectar of the gods.
  • 90-95: Near perfect, there is something truly special about this whisky.
  • 85-89: Amazing, will always try to keep a bottle of this in my collection (if feasible).
  • 80-84: Very Good, maybe only one minor nitpick about the whisky keeping it here.
  • 75-79: Good, quite enjoyable to drink.
  • 70-74: Solid, wouldn’t go out of my way to get it.
  • 60-69: Meh, still drinkable.
  • Below 59: If you have a bottle of this, start cooking with it instead.

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