There are two types of medicinal flavors in whisky: the cherry-flavored cough medicine from sherry casks and the iodine of peated malts. Not every sherried or peated whisky displays these, and sometimes these notes are pleasant and sometimes not. Aberlour is well known for its sherried whiskies, and in a good example of such I usually find rich stewed fruit and spice notes. In Aberlour 12 though, the result is not these but instead the cherry cough medicine. This is strongest on the nose, which also gives some corn and malt. My wife thought it smells like Moxie (not good).
Fortunately, Aberlour 12 gets better in the mouth. The sherry influence is still there but one also gets more pleasant Speyside notes of honey, vanilla, and malty corn syrup. The sherry reasserts itself on the finish, which is a little tangy and hot. Aberlour 12 is double cask matured: aged first in Bourbon barrels and then finished in Sherry barrels (in the same way as Balvenie DoubleWood 12). The sherry is more evident here than in Balvenie, but the Bourbon and Sherry influences do not compliment each other so well. Rather than tasting like an integrated whisky, it tastes more like someone mixed some Macallan 12 with Glenlivet 12 (1:3 ratio). Still, there is a lot of pleasant Speyside character in the dram, and for $35 or so it's a decent value. 81 points (B-).
Other Aberlour reviews:
Shop for whisky (and help Scotch Drammer) at The Whisky Exchange.