|Aberfeldy 12 year old Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky|
I must confess that my psyche is burdened by the weight of that old adage that you always get what you pay for. Go cheap on those shoes and they will be pinching your toes like the cheek of a saucy school boy by a nun at Catholic school. Buy 'no-name' cola and you will taste the difference. So, it should not come as any surprise that if I can buy a 12 year old single malt that is cheaply priced, I will have serious reservations.
An acquantance of mine, Frank, had recommended Aberfeldy 12 years as a great value scotch. I was naturally suspicous for the aforementioned reason, but since Frank operated a bar with a couple hundred single malts on the menu, I was willing to take a risk.
Peaches, honey, peat and heather. No! Those are not terms of endearment. The scotch really displays those aromas.
Strong honey, pancake syrup, heather, and spice.
Drying citrus/oak with a gentle spiciness, held in a warm embrace of cigar smoke, and a little vanilla.
The more I drink of this malt, the greater the smoke on the finish. Starts gradually and then becomes builds into a most powerful flavor crescendo, kinda like devouring tandoori chicken . At first, like an idiot I say to the waitress, 'ahh Indian food isn't that hot.' I keep eating and before I know it my Indian waitress smiles and starts delivering the glasses of water, one after another as the curry flavor builds and builds while sweat beads on my forehead.
Aberfeldy 12 does the same in terms of smoke. Not a smoke bomb upon initial tasting, but keep sipping and before you know it, you are wondering who gave you the Cohiba.
Never Heard of Aberfeldy?
Not a well known malt. The distillery is owned by John Dewars and Sons. Aberfeldy is an old distillery dating back to 1898 and was established to ensure a ready supply of single malt to be used in the famous blend, Dewar's White Label. It, along with approximately forty other single malts, is blended into the White Label. Since 90% of single malt production is typically used for blending, the owners of the distillery may not be overly preocuppied with promoting the single malt. This might explain that the bottling of the 12 year old Aberfeldy only began in 1999.
This malt is rather sweet. It does dry towards the finish though. I could understand someone finding it simply to sweet to their liking.
Aberfeldy 12 years is not sherried. Not in the least. No surprise once you learn that the new make spirit was aged in American oak ex-bourbon casks. Hence, the vanilla sweetness. The lack of sherry in the flavor profile is not what I would consider a flaw. Just an observation for you to consider.
Great Value Play
For the price, you are actually getting a fair bit of flavor complexity. Something not seen in other entry level 12 year old single malts at this price point like Glenfiddich 12 years. The complex weaving of honey and heather upon the palate is surprisingly good for the low price. The value of this malt is particularly obvious if you consider that the 12 year old Dewars blend, Dewars 12 year old "Special Reserve" is a dollar less in price (at least where I live). The 12 year old blend is terrible, whereas this single malt is not. Of course, pricing will depend where you live.
This malt offers great appeal to the novice, yet because of the complexity, it will please the serious malt nut. Do give it a try!
Copyright © Jason Debly, 2009-2012. All rights reserved. All photos by Jason Debly except photo of Cohiba cigar. Cigar photo taken by Matthew Lowery copyright 2011.