ABV: 48.9% Distillery: Aberfeldy Bottler: That Boutique-y Whisky Company Region: HighlandsAge: 21
Door number 7 in the 2018 Boutique-y Advent calendar delivers up the bottlers second batch of Aberfeldy – rather the long time coming seeing as the 1st was released around the time the company was launched back in 2013. Five years on this new Boutique-y bottling of the ‘golden dram’ comes adorned with a 21 year old age statement – but still features a cartoon Ian Buxton (who lives close to the distillery) panning for gold in the Pitlie Burn – Aberfeldy’s water source.
Batch two is a release of 261 bottles delivered at 48.9% ABV. At £148.95 from Master of Malt this is not cheap – indeed, I feel obliged to compare it to the distillery’s proprietary 21 year old – that’ll set you back around £20 less, but also provide you with 20cl more.
Nose: Expressive with wild honey, Golden Graham cereal, lemon sherbet and orange peels. The wood is perceptible but nicely integrated – part bright and polished, part charred but still sappy. A gentle, but undefined tropicalness runs throughout and is supported by some typical ex-bourbon aromas – vanilla and desiccated coconut. In the background an interesting minerality – coal dust – almost with a smoky edge. Resting this whisky is worthwhile – it unlocks a pleasant leafy ‘greenness’ that sits alongside rich golden malts. Reduction adds sweetness with candy canes, powdered sugar and crystalline ginger.
Taste: The arrival is bold – feeling more impactful than the ABV. It’s animated and fruity, but at the same time bitingly tart and sour – apple and pear with dashes of mango and spit-roasted pineapple – all drenched in highly acerbic lemon and grapefruit. Honey is never far away and reveals itself in the mid-palate, moving towards a more even mid-palate with tinned fruits and buttered pastry tarts. The back-palate offers a similar steeliness as detected on the nose – brassy and cutting with notes of burnt cask ends. Dilution offers massive improvement – reducing bitterness and sourness and allowing the Aberfeldy honey sweetness to shine.
Finish: Medium to long with singed oak, honey and wet limestone.
Aberfeldy 21 year old is a game of two halves, only one of which is successful. At 48.9% whilst bold, there’s an overabundance of both bitterness and sourness that feels out of kilter with the natural sweet honey and malts of the underlying spirit. The addition of water reduces this imbalance – but it still might be too piercing for some palates. Flavoursome and eventful, but far from a home run.
Review calendar provided by Boutique-y Whisky
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