There’ll be no whisky review this Friday as it’s the first of the month and so let’s call it a mini-sherry cask week (following Monday’s Balvenie PX Finish). I noted on Monday that I have not reviewed very many Balvenies; well, this is only my second review of an Aberfeldy. The first was a 17 yo bottled by Cadenhead in 2014 from bourbon hogsheads. This one is a year younger and was bottled in 2020 by G&M from a refill sherry hogshead. I quite liked the ex-bourbon 17 yo—will this one be at least as good? Let’s see.
Aberfeldy 16, 2003 (58.8%; G&M; refill sherry hogshead; from a bottle split)
Nose: No sherry bomb, this comes in with some dried orange peel, cereals and dried leaves. The orange peel picks up as it sits and some mildly-spicy oak joins it. With time the oak softens and some toffee emerges along with some roasted malt; a bit of cream/milky cocoa too now. Water emphasizes this development and pulls out more of the leaves as well.
Palate: Everything from the nose but with greater intensity. Quite a big bite at full strength and decent texture. On the second sip the oak has the biggest say with the sweeter notes coming up behind. With more time and air the orange peel overtakes the oak. Okay, let’s see what water does. A few drops of water and the spicy oak and orange peel are now in very good balance.
Finish: Long. The oak first and then some caramel (bitter) and coffee grounds. More orange peel here too with time. As on the palate with water.
Comments: I had this pegged at about 83 points after the first couple of sniffs and sips but it came on nicely with air and water. It still doesn’t amount to anything very special or come close to justifying the high price that I’m pretty sure would have been asked for it. Those who favour more oak in their whisky may disagree.
Rating: 85 points.