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Scotch Whisky Legends: Aberfeldy 1975 25 Year Old Cadenhead Bond Reserve

The Aberfeldy 1975 25 Year Old Cadenhead Bond Reserve

Welcome back to another installment of Scotch Whiskey Legends. This week, we are taking a look at a rather underrated Highland distillery: Aberfeldy. The bottle in question is a true rarity from independent bottler, Cadenhead.

So, let’s take a deep dive into the Aberfeldy 1975 25 Year Old Cadenhead Bond Reserve. 

Catch up on the previous Scotch Whisky Legends articles here

The Aberfeldy 1975 25 Year Old Cadenhead Bond Reserve

As with many scotch whisky distilleries, Aberfeldy long-contributed to blends (such as Dewar’s), rather than being bottled as a single malt. One of the earliest examples of Aberfeldy as a single malt was in Diageo’s Flora & Fauna range, released in 1991. 

Therefore, it was independent bottlers such as Cadenhead that served fans of the Aberfeldy single malt for much of the distillery’s history. 

The bottling that we are discussing today, the Aberfeldy 1975 25 Year Old Cadenhead Bond Reserve, was bottled in 2001 by Cadenhead. The whisky was matured in a sherry hogshead and is extremely limited in nature, with just 228 bottles produced at 57% ABV. 

This expression is notable for its sherry cask maturation. Aberfeldy is, most of the time, seen in ex-bourbon. However, the rare occasions that the whisky is matured in sherry (according to, “shows that this is a malt which has guts.” 

Whisky-tasting experts also note Aberfeldy’s heavy weight on the mid-palate, brought about by long-term maturation.

So, what did expert whisky taster, Serge Valentin, make of this highland rarity upon tasting it in 2006? 

Serge Valentin’s Tasting Notes On The Aberfeldy 1975 25 Year Old Cadenhead Bond Reserve

Valentin calls the whisky “a rather unusual but very, very classy sherried malt”.

Serge noted that this whisky is a “rather extreme” Aberfeldy prior to tasting in March 2006. This is, most likely, due to its exclusive sherry hogshead maturation which was a rarity at the time. 

Colour: amber. 

Nose: much cleaner, with a wood that’s much less dominating. It’s rather powerful but also subtle and very elegant, with a beautiful balance, this time. Notes of cooked fruits, orange jam and caramel, woodworker’s workbench, quite some spices (nutmeg, curry). Goes on with whiffs of melted butter, hot pastries, cooked manioc, peppered chocolate (that’s excellent) and hints of raw celeriac… Just great – and again, what a beautiful balance. Classy! 

Mouth: an excellent attack, majestic and probably as woody as the Cross Hill, but perhaps more balanced. Yet, there’s lots of mustard, even wasabi, pepper, huge notes of gentian and liquorice stick, celeriac again… Very herbal indeed! It’s so compact, so nicely austere in its own way, I would even say ‘serious’ (!) There’s a little sweetness in the background to prevent it from getting sinister… Just perfect! And the finish is long, persistent, on liquorice and ginger… In short, a rather unusual but very, very classy sherried malt. 91 points.” – Serge Valentin, 2006, 

Auction Prices (or a lack thereof) 

As stated above, this is a very rare whisky. Bottled at such a time that whisky was purely for drinking rather than collecting or investing, it is likely that the vast majority of the 228 bottles have been opened and drunk. Indeed, I can only find two auction records for this bottling: one in July 2020 and one in September 2019 for between £380-£400 (

So, if you do see one of these rare bottles pop up at auction, you might see fit to grab it whilst you can. There is no telling how many of the Aberfeldy 1975 25 Year Old Cadenhead Bond Reserve bottlings there are left in the world. If you would like to sample it, my recommendation would be to keep a weather eye on whisky auctions. 

A Brief History of Aberfeldy Distillery

Aberfeldy Distillery

Aberfeldy Distillery, home of the Dewar’s brand, was founded by John Dewar & Sons in 1896, following a successful establishment as a wine merchant in Perth. John Dewar’s sons, John Jr. and Thomas (Tommy) chose a beautiful Highland location next to Putilie Burn for their distillery. 

Aberfeldy spent much of its life contributing to the famous Dewar’s blend. In 1925, Dewar’s joined DCL (now Diageo). When, in 1998, the UK Monopolies Board forced Diageo to sell one of its brands, the Dewar’s estate (blends, Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Royal Brackla, and Craigellachie) was purchased by Bacardi-Martini for £1.1 billion. 

Following significant investment in the Dewar’s brand home (Dewar’s World of Whisky) at Aberfeldy, the distillery began to produce and bottle its own single malts. Today, the core range consists of a 12 year old, a 16 year old, and a 21 year old.

Beth Squires

Beth joined Mark Littler Ltd full-time in October 2020 following the completion of her university degree. Since then she has gained wide-ranging knowledge of all things whisk(e)y, and has written extensively for both company and external publications. Beth is passionate about industry innovation, marketing, and sustainability. With a particular affinity for independently bottled rare scotch, Beth is also a whisky bottle investment specialist.

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