Tag Archives: dewars

Aberfeldy 16 Review

Distiller: Aberfeldy. ABV: 40% Age: 16 years. Region: Highlands. Price: $70-90.

It’s been a pleasure tasting my way through the John Dewar & Sons’ Last Great Malts lineup over the past year. Craigellachie and Aultmore have been my favorite distilleries of the bunch, with Aberfeldy a close third.

What appealed to me in the Aberfeldy 12 was a good mix of approachability and heft for its age and ABV: 40%, as with the distillery’s other core releases (even, alas, the 21-year-old).

One particularity of Aberfeldy malt is its long fermentation time: 70 hours, as opposed to a more typical 55 or so. This creates more esters in the distillate, which should lead to a fruitier malt.

The 16-year-old Aberfeldy is matured in a combination of bourbon and sherry casks, then finished in Oloroso sherry casks for a “more pronounced sherry accent.”

What’s it like in the glass? I was struck by the bourbon-y notes on the nose–not bourbon-matured single malt, but actual bourbon: Four Roses-esque caramel apple. Sweet leather. Vanilla pipe tobacco. The sherried notes emerge gradually–dried fruits, plum–and are strong on the palate. Raisin bun. Stewed prunes. Cinnamon. The medium-short finish has black tea with raspberry and a touch of oak spice.

I’ll make my usual appeal for another 3-6% ABV, but overall, the Aberfledy 16 is a fine package and a welcome daily drinker for me.

Cheers, friends! -BO

Buy Aberfeldy Whisky online at Mash + Grape

The distiller kindly shared a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Craigellachie 31 Review

Distiller: Craigellachie. Region: Speyside. ABV: 52.2%. Age: 31 years. Price:  $800-1,000+

Hot damn. The Craigellachie 31 is in pretty rarefied territory. As Axis readers know, I’ve tried–and hugely enjoyed–every other distillery bottling: the 13 (one of the best buys in stores), the 17 (a welcome step up), the 19 (one of my favorites of 2016, sadly Duty Free-only), and the 23 (challengingly sulphuric, and damn pricey).

The 31, though, I doubted I’d get to try–at least any time soon. But there it was on offer at the end of the brilliant Dewars single malt dinner at Ink LA recently. I took full advantage.

Craigellachie is not for beginners, and they’re proud of it. The 31 is intense. Many other distillers release their oldest malts watered down, but this bottling is 52.2% ABV. It starts with a massive leathery note on the nose the younger Craigellachies don’t have. Dense strawberry and pineapple. Peppery vanilla bean. A little water, and the dram bursts open.

The palate explodes with spice-infused fruit: cinnamon, dried ginger, nutmeg. Bitter chocolate truffles. That characteristic Craigellachie meatiness. Toasted almonds. Old leather-bound library volumes. White smoke. Constant evolution in the glass, and a finish that goes on forever.

One of the more extraordinary drams I’ve tasted. The jury of Whisky Magazine’s World Whisky Awards seems to agree: they named the Craigellachie 31 the best single malt in the world for 2017.

Here’s to the grails, whether we’re drinking them or dreaming of them. Slàinte, friends! – BO

Aberfeldy 21 Review

Distiller: Aberfeldy. ABV: 40% Age: 21 years. Region: Highlands. Price: $150.

John Dewar & Sons’ Last Great Malts lineup is full of fine drams, among them the wonderfully balanced and satisfying Aberfeldy 12. The current distillery bottlings also include an 18-year-old, and top out with this 21-year-old. How does it stack up?

The word I kept returning to when reviewing the 12 was “irreproachable.” The 21 has the same spirit. It’s malt from a finely judged mix of ex-bourbon casks and ex-sherry. It’s every bit as easy to enjoy as the 12. It’s also bottled at the same modest–I’d say too modest–40% ABV.

The nose is pure Christmas. Clove-studded orange. Mulled wine and marmalade. The palate has a honeyed richness and a depth well beyond that of the 12–as one would hope. Ripe fruit and caramel. The finish adds some chocolate, with a pleasant sprinkling of Christmas spice and beautiful singed-orange tannins.

Particularly for less experienced or less thrill-seeking single malt drinkers, those who prefer balance to adventurousness, the Aberfeldy 21 is a can’t-miss. And in terms of price, it’s a fair value for its age–given that no 21-year-old comes cheap anymore.  But for me, when there’s so much to enjoy, it’s hard not to crave a little excess.

Cheers, friends! -BO

Buy Aberfeldy Whisky online at Mash + Grape

Aberfeldy graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Feature photo by Instagram user jfruzzetti.

Aultmore 12 Review

Distiller: Aultmore. ABV: 46%. Age: 12 years. Region: Speyside. Price: $50.

I first tasted the Aultmore 12, a lovely Speyside, in a well ensconced pub during a trip to Edinburgh last year. My initial reaction was that it was a very interesting single malt, but that I’d need more time to formulate a proper opinion.

Our ongoing look at John Dewar & Sons’ Last Great Malts line was the perfect opportunity to revisit it–and I found it every bit as good as good as I first thought it was.

The nose is honeyed vanilla with spring grass and lemon. The palate is a course of spice, caramelized sugar, honey, and vanilla. And the finish is all I want from a single malt. Sustained, mature, and warming.

For me, at $50, it’s a real steal, and I’d recommend it to all. One of the young standouts of the Last Great Malts line.

Cheers, friends! – TM

The distiller kindly shared a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

The Deveron 12 Review

Distillery: Macduff. ABV: 40%. Age: 12 years. Region: Highland. Price: $45.

When John Dewar & Sons offered us the chance to sample its Last Great Malts collection (Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Craigellachie, Royal Brackla, and The Deveron), our hopes were high. Any collection purporting to offer the last of the more or less undiscovered malts has to be bringing it–and we already knew the Craigellachie did.

But for me, thus far, the rest of the collection has been a mixed bag. While I love the Aultmore 12, the 12-year-old Deveron is a touch underwhelming. It’s part of the first range of single malts to be released from the Macduff distillery, all of which come in at the same modest ABV of 40%. The nose on the 12 is fairly shy, as if it’s afraid to display the toffee, apple, and brown sugar that so want to come out. The palate brings the apple to the fore, with sprinkles of cinnamon, cereal, and hay. The finish is gone before you know to look for it, and left me wanting much more.

All in all, it’s a decent introductory Highland malt, but not one I’d serve the more experienced whisky drinker.

Cheers, friends! – TM

The distiller kindly shared a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Aberfeldy 12 Review

Distiller: Aberfeldy. ABV: 40% Age: 12 years. Region: Highlands. Price: $50.

With this spectacular shot from our Instagram friend @scotch_doc, our look at John Dewar & Sons’ Last Great Malts lineup continues.

This dram has a close family resemblance to another Last Great Malts release we recently reviewed, the Royal Brackla 12. (Craigellachie, Aultmore, and The Deveron complete the lineup.) Like the Brackla, this Aberfeldy is an immediately appealing, easy-drinking dram with a classic Speyside profile–though the Aberfeldy’s actually a Highland–plus a little something extra. An unexpected heft and meatiness for its mere 12 years and 40% ABV.

Golden baked fruits and orange on the nose, plus…chicken barbecue? Pound cake with whipped cream, topped with raspberries and blackberries. Palate has more baked apple, with a tasty dose of clove and cinnamon. Orange tea bridges to the finish, which has a nice balance of sweetness, spice, and tannins. A touch of fresh leather at the end.

An irreproachable, satisfying first dram of the night, any night–like the Royal Brackla 12. The only objection to these two might be what the ever-eloquent Mark of Malt-Review.com said (referring to the Brackla): “It’s all very Duke and Duchess of Cambridge…no risk-taking as of yet. No shivers down the spine.”

True, but I finish each dram with a smile. Cheers, friends! -BO

Buy Aberfeldy Whisky online at Mash + Grape

The distiller kindly shared a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.