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
Aberfeldy graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.
Feature photo by Instagram user jfruzzetti.