Whisky Review Round Up: Aberfeldy 12, 16 Year Old

, | April 16, 2019

Editor’s Note: These whiskies were provided to us as review samples by Bacardi. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.

Aberfeldy Distillery, founded by the illustrious Dewar’s family in 1896, is a name Dewar’s aficionados may recognize. It stands as one of the last remaining Perthshire distilleries, and is also one of the distinctive Dewar’s malts – often referred to as “the Golden Dram,” it is a large component of Dewar’s signature blend. As far as single malts go, Aberfeldy’s core expressions have historically been 12-, 16- and 21-years-old. It is the first two which we will be reviewing here.

Aberfeldy sources its water from the Pitilie Burn, which is reportedly prized locally for its purity and rich deposits of gold and minerals. The whiskies which result from this distillery are famous for their particular honeyed notes, which are said to derive from a process of longer fermentation in larch washbacks, allowing for more flavor development. It is then distilled in copper pot stills and aged in oak casks.

Alberfeldy 12 Year Old

Alberfeldy 12 Year Old (image via Bacardi)

Tasting Notes: Aberfeldy 12 Year Old

Vital Stats: 80 proof (40% abv); 100% malted barley; matured in ex-bourbon and ex sherry casks; 12 years old; $40.

Appearance: Radiant golden straw, as its nickname would befit.

Nose: Bright green apple, honeydew and sauvignon blanc grapes with the slightest ethanol burn peeking through.

Palate: Watermelon jolly rancher, raspberries and a light, refreshing bit of cucumber.  Very pleasant medium length finish, low viscosity, firm but not abrasive oak tannin.  The watermelon note in particular sticks around.

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Final Thoughts: A very pleasant, easy drinking dram.  It has an a distinctly light and “summer-y” character, in a good way.  Not necessarily what I would want on a cold night in November, but something more suited to a backyard barbecue.   At around $40, I’d call it a value whisky that would be right at home in a gussied up classic cocktail or whisky highball.  

Score: 3.5/5

Tasting Notes: Aberfeldy 16 Year Old

Vital Stats: 80 proof (40% abv); 100% malted barley; matured in Olrosso sherry casks; 16 years old; $95.

Appearance: Oddly enough, the appearance of both the 12 year and 16 year is identical.  Radiant golden straw.

Nose: Bing cherries, slight oxidation, ripe melon, buttery, a slightly odd rye toast note.

Palate: Marzipan, a touch of coconut, dried cherries and cherry pit spice, medium viscosity, some bakers chocolate, firm tannins, light ethanol burn, medium length finish with toasted almond dominating.  

Final Thoughts: A more thoughtful, weighty dram than the 12 year. The additional sherry casking comes through, but isn’t overbearing and works wonderfully with the fruity spirit, adding a richness and level of depth not present in the 12 year. While the bottlings seem to have a very different purpose in life, they are at once unique and complimentary.  The 16 year is a wonderful addition to the Aberfeldy line up and surely worth seeking out.

Score: 4/5

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Connor Martin

Connor is a professional chef in Portland, OR. He is currently one half of the chef/bartender duo behind the popular MIAN (@mianpdx on Instagram) pop-ups and is working towards opening a bar with his business partner. Previously he has run cocktail programs and done spirits education focusing on whiskey and...