For years now, Frank Shrope and Leonard de Guzman, the main brains behind local group Whisky Anonymous, has been putting together whisky tasting events. They tend to be pretty relaxed affairs, designed specifically to welcome both the curious and the experienced into the same room to enjoy a few bottles of spirit.
Their latest event was a tasting of three whiskies from the Aberfeldy distillery. It’s a brand that still isn’t very well known. They actually haven’t been bottling these single malts for very long. Aberfeldy is more known as the main component of Dewar’s Blended Whisky, which is one of the top-selling scotches in the world. It was only in 1999, over one hundred after the founding of the distillery, that they decided to release the single malt to the public.
The youngest expression, the Aberfeldy 12 Year Old, is just about one of the friendliest spirits you’ll ever have. On the nose, there’s plenty of fruit and honey, and just a hint of spice. We got strong citrus notes at the end as well. That citrus will pop again later on the palate, particularly in the finish. An initial hit of apricot and honey will give way to some bitter orange rind. It’s a bright, sparkly little drink that reminded me a bit of an orange lozange.
The Aberfeldy 16 Year Old is a recent addition to their line, introduced into the market just a little over two years ago. The whisky is finished in Oloroso Sherry casks, which generally adds some dried fruit sweetness. Again, Aberfeldy seems to be really directed at creating very accessible, very friendly whiskies. This one gave me an impression of apple pie, with hints of green apple, raisins, cinnamon, and gingerbread coming through in both the nose and the palate. But this isn’t a boring whisky by any means: it’s the kind of drink that comes alive the more you drink it, revealing more facets as the night goes on.
But the main event of the evening was the tasting of the Aberfeldy 21 Year Old. It should be said that a higher age statement doesn’t necessarily mean a better whisky. In fact, many of the participants from the tasting seemed to prefer the 16 to the 21. It all really comes down to personal taste. But to my palate, this whisky represents a culmination of what Aberfeldy seems to be trying to achieve with their single malts. Like the other expressions, the 21 doesn’t have an aggressive bone in its body. The flavors it contains within are familiar and welcoming: vanilla, honey, peaches and cream. But they all come together in a rather profound way in the glass, releasing wave after wave of flavor as it settles on the palate, finishing out gently with more honeyed sweetness. Personally, I liked whisky with a little more kick to them, but between these three, the added complex makes the 21 our choice.
But this isn’t a boring whisky by any means: it’s the kind of drink that comes alive the more you drink it, revealing more facets as the night goes on.
All three are good, though, and any of them would be a fine introduction into the world of single malt scotch. It might seem a little strange to recommend a somewhat rarely seen brand for an introductory drink, but Aberfeldy is uniquely suited to the task of expanding scotch horizons. Their whiskies don’t need any hedging, no warnings that they might be too much for an inexperienced palate. Pretty much anyone could pick up a glass of Aberfeldy and immediately enjoy it. And then, as they spend more time with it, they might discover the treasures that are hidden within.
Aberfeldy is available at The Distillery BGC. For more information about Whisky Anonymous’ tasting events, visit their Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/WhiskyAnonymous