This 1999 single cask Aberfeldy was a hand fill available at the distillery in early 2017 making it roughly 18 years of age. It was matured in an oloroso sherry cask (cask number 5) and is bottled at 56.5%.
Nose: Deep fruits and aged sherry aromas. Commencing with stewed red fruits (particularly black cherries) and well-preserved berries (cranberries and redcurrant), this Aberfeldy swiftly moves into deeper aromas of leather, smoked tobacco, camphor with both a slight dustiness and a hint of rancio. Toffee and caramel provide necessary sweetness, but cask spicing here is quite pronounced with cinnamon and ginger both providing robust and bold aromas. Water reduces the depth of fruit flavour and adds some slight grassy herbalness alongside heighten toffee.
Taste: Rich, punchy, full-bodied and pretty indulgent. Chocolate cake, raisins, sultanas and brown sugar are joined with bitter wood and spicing – sharp fresh ginger – and a zesty bite of citrus. A light pinch of salt can be felt here which adds an extra dimension to a whisky which is already interestingly blending sweetness and bitterness together. The addition of water reduces the overall level of astringency and adds toffee and caramel notes – some might prefer it that way, I’m in two minds here – both unaltered and diluted are rather different experiences with different merits.
Finish: Medium to long in length with sharp and pronounced spice.
The 1999 Aberfeldy single cask is forceful and yet indulgent, possibly best suited to relaxing with after dinner. To my taste it works best at higher strength, where the spirit and cask are both allowed to shine equally and demonstrate a lovely (but fine!) balance between sweetness and bitterness. Nevertheless, with water or without, there’s tons of character here.