Aberfeldy distillery is the still-beating heart of John Dewar. It was the sole distillery built by the famous Dewar family in 1898, and stands a mere three-miles from his birthplace. You’ll know that name: Dewar’s. It’s a massive brand, a global blended Scotch, and now owned by Bacardi. The business was – and arguably still is – one of the most influential in the whisky trade throughout history. John Dewar, and his two sons – Tommy and John Jr – were whisky godfathers.
But Aberfeldy. That’s home. That’s the core of Dewar’s – the sparkling jewel in the cask-shaped crown of the brand. Built in 1898, today it creates over three million litres of spirit each year. It’s located in Perthshire, five miles east of Loch Tay, and uses water from the Pitilie Burn, which runs next to the distillery.
I have talked a ton about the Last Great Malts series from John Dewar & Sons, where they dusted down their portfolio of whisky distilleries and created some very good single malt ranges. The whisky’s generally tasty. Though some of the older whiskies were simply… well, very expensive. Perhaps it was thought by some greedy board-member that these Last Great Malts could be a way to squeeze the last copper coins from the shaking hands of weeping whisky drinkers. (The Aultmore 25 Years Old was about £300, for heaven’s sake, and I know of a very good indie 33-year-old Aultmore available for less than half the price.) Whisky drinkers clearly thought bugger to that, as we saw prices of the later releases being much cheaper comparatively.
The new Aberfeldy 16 Years Old is probably the best value of them all at £50 a bottle. It’s been finished (moved for a final year from – presumably bourbon/American White Oak) in Oloroso sherry casks, before being bottled at 40% ABV.
On the nose: gorgeously honeyed, with exceptionally strong floral notes. Very nice indeed, and very close to the Wemyss Malts single cask I tried a little while ago. So yet again, old-fashioned roses – and intensely so, almost to the point of it being a wax candle interpretation of that scent. Beeswax table polish. Cider – mead, perhaps.
In the mouth: plenty of flavour for the ABV. Fresh fruit rather than dried fruits. Almost like a creamy fruit cocktail, from a tin and drenched in syrup. That battles with a strong malted quality – much like malted milk biscuits. Buttered toast. Apricots. Stewed apples. And honey again – a lot more now. Generally this is well-balanced, although there’s just a touch of light bitterness on the finish that stops it being wonderful. It reminds me of the bitterness you sometimes find in orange marmalade. Just a nice jammy, late-summer whisky.
Not as good as the nose would have you think, but still tasty – if a little restrained (something that others in this fine series have been guilty of). A solid whisky, from a good distillery. But – as we’re starting to see after the initial eye-watering price tags that presumably left bottles gathering dust – at £50 a bottle this represents (at last) good value. The Aberfeldy 16 Years Old would be a good everyday dram, especially at 40% ABV, for those who aren’t too keen on peated whiskies. It’d make a great gift for those getting into whisky, too. Can’t help but think that at 43% ABV it would have been more of a crowd pleaser.
Note: this was a sample sent through on behalf of the Last Great Malts. But samples don’t result in kindness.