This is the first Aberfeldy I’ve reviewed on the blog and it may well be only the second Aberfeldy I’ve ever tasted. Not much of it is available. Until recently, there were only a 12 yo and a 21 yo available from the distillery and my experience of the 12 yo did not ever make me curious about the 21 yo. I found it to be an unremarkable malt, in a somewhat generic, mildly fruity Highlands style: not offensive but not really intriguing. Not that intrigue would have helped much: there’s very little Aberfeldy available from the independents (most of it goes into the bottomless vats of the Dewar’s blends) and most of those seem to be G&M releases in their Connoisseur’s Choice line—which also has rarely gotten very many whisky geeks’ pulses racing. This one was bottled
last year in 2014 by Cadenhead’s in their Small Batch series. As my experience with the last lot of Cadenhead’s Small Batch releases was pretty positive I was willing to take a chance on it. I am happy to say I rather like it.
Aberfeldy 17, 1997 (57.5%; hogsheads; from my own bottle)
Nose: Grainy sweetness at first and then quite a lot of tart citrus (lime) and a big whack of oak. Then some tart apple too, verging on the chalky but settling into a Sauvignon blanc’ish limestone/mineral note. With time there’s a nice cereal quality as well and some peach. With water there’s more of the cereal note and it’s maltier too now and there’s a slightly perfumed, floral note to go along with the fruit.
Palate: A mix of tart-sweet fruit here too (apple mostly) but the sweetness is on top; very fresh and juicy; not that I’m suggesting drinking this at breakfast but the fresh juice quality makes me think of vitamin C delivery at breakfast. Nice texture and quite approachable at full strength. There’s oak here as well but not as much as on the nose and not at all tannic. Gets maltier and muskier with time and air. With water it’s much more tart than before (lime, gooseberry) and even the sweetness is more in the kiwi family now.
Finish: Long. The sweet notes (apple) linger for a long time and then the tart citrus returns; oak again at the end. Some white pepper as it sits. As on the palate with water and there’s some menthol coolness too now.
Comments: This is very nice. Bright and fresh, it’s the perfect malt for a summer night, and we’re currently in the middle of a heatwave as I’m writing these notes. I look forward to seeing if/how it opens up further as the bottle gets emptier. Right now, I prefer it neat.
Rating: 86 points.