...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

1975 25yo Aberfeldy versus 1993 25yo Aberfeldy

Aberfeldy? Yeah, Aberfeldy. I've never sought out samples from this Speysider because its indie bottlings are relatively rare, official bottlings are usually 40%abv, and it's the main malt for Dewar's White Label, one of the least inspiring blends in the business for at least 15 years.

Diving for Pearls is now tripling its total Aberfeldy review count with these two samples that got mixed up in the D4P Aberlour sample section. Both whiskies come from 25-year-old single sherry casks bottled by two indie grandpas, Cadenhead and Gordon & MacPhail. I have no idea what to expect from these, so here I go...



Distillery: Aberfeldy
Current ownership: Bacardi
Ownership in 1975: Distillers Company Limited
Region: Speyside (Perthshire)
Bottler: Cadenhead
Range: Authentic Collection
Age: 25 years (1975 - July 2001)
Maturation: sherry hogshead
Outturn: 228 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 57%
(from a bottle split)

NEAT

The nose is weird and fun. It's a swirl of orange blossom, lemon peel, fresh ginger, apple candy, and a lot of saline. The palate is very fruity with a mix of citrus peels and cherry things (black cherry juice, tart cherries, cherry hard candies, etc.). There's also some old school industrial greasiness to it. The finish summarizes the palate's elements: cherry candy, bitter citrus peel, and that industrial edge.

DILUTED to ~50%abv, or ¾ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

It's as if the nose gains focus. There's one layer of almonds, crème brûlée, and lemons; and another layer of ocean and metals. The palate has become earthy and very herbal, with a striking wormwood bitterness. Tart cherries and fresh plums play around the edges. It finishes with marzipan, cherry juice, and bitter citrus.

WORDS WORDS WORDS

This is an old-fashioned whisky in that it feels completely unproduced and unpolished. It's dirtier and stranger than contemporary Aberfeldy, in all the best ways. The slight dilution works wonders, bringing the fruits and powerful herbal sides together. Inspiring whisky.

Availability - Secondary market?
Pricing - ???
Rating - 90



Yes, a 90-point Aberfeldy. How about the 1993?

Distillery: Aberfeldy
Current ownership: Bacardi
Ownership in 1993: United Distillers
Region: Speyside (Perthshire)
Bottler: Gorden & MacPhail
Range: Connoisseurs Choice Cask Strength
Age: 25 years (6 June 1993 - 21 June 2018)
Maturation: first-fill sherry puncheon
Cask #: 4054
Outturn: 444 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 58.8%
(from a bottle split)

NEAT

The nose is rich and woody in a modern style, but still very good. Walnuts and chocolate. Bourbon-y char and maple syrup. Dates, orange peel, white gummy bears, and baked peaches. Meanwhile, the palate goes another direction. Musty old oak in the dunnage. Gentle baking spices, shortbread cookies, dried apricots, oranges, and a quiet pepperiness. It finishes simply with dried apricot, lemons, and a sprinkle of oak spice.

DILUTED to ~50%abv, or 1 tsp of water per 30mL whisky

The nose has shifted to dunnage, dates, dark chocolate, and cloves. The palate keeps the musty dusty note and light pepperiness, while introducing mint leaves and dates. All of this stays on through the finish.

WORDS WORDS WORDS

Oh my, this one is great, too. THAT, I did not expect. Dunnage and dates will get me every time, and the fruit never leaves. The nose had me worried at first, but patience and the palate won out. Though the 1975 cask won, it wasn't by much. Congrats to those who've captured their own bottle of this 1993. What else is Aberfeldy hiding or burying?

Availability - Secondary market
Pricing - ???
Rating - 88

Thursday, June 6, 2024

One bourbon cask Aberlour, One sherry cask Aberlour

I've never been a fan of Aberlour's house sherried style, preferring independently-bottled ex-bourbon cask versions. So if you never see another A'bunadh here, don't be shocked. I do have a sample of a distillery exclusive sherried thing, and I'm not sure why I do, but it presents an opportunity to try it alongside an indie single hoggie.



First up, the Indie Aberlour. Possibly the oldest Aberlour I've tried from this distillery, this cask was bottled up after 26 years by a company that has a grand total of two whiskies in Whiskybase, so it's sort of an unknown quantity, which I like.

Distillery: Aberlour
Ownership: Pernod Ricard
Region: Speyside (Banffshire)
Bottler: Houston Bottling & Co-Pack
Range: Cooper's Gold
Age: 26 years (1989-2015)
Maturation: hogshead
Cask #: 11040
Outturn: 274 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 51.1%
(Courtesy of My Annoying Opinions. Thank you, sir!)

NEAT

The nose starts off bright and fresh, with lemon peel, Fuji apples, anise, and cilantro. Hints of oats and vanilla extract appear later in the background. The palate is mildly sweet with a lot of toasted oak up front. Bitter herbs and earth meet a slight but persistent metallic note. It finishes herbal and metallic, with hints of peppercorns and hay.

DILUTED to ~46%abv, or ½-¾ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

A very different nose now, with mint toothpaste, orange bubblegum, wood polish, and unripe peaches. It's woodier on the palate, more tannic and acidic, with a lemon vinaigrette note in the back. It finishes tangy, acidic, minty, and woody.

WORDS WORDS WORDS

Though its color is as light as straw, the whisky has been overtaken by American oak to the point that it's missing the honeyed fruits that I seek out in bourbon cask Aberlours. The nose is great at times when a few fruits win the battle, but the whisky doesn't swim particularly well, especially on the palate. It's not a bad sipper when neat, but it's never particularly memorable.

Availability - Secondary market?
Pricing - ???
Rating - 84 (neat only)



Now, the official sherry creature, bottled in March 2022 as a distillery exclusive. It seems to be part of a big batch with a the bottle outturn in the thousands.

Distillery: Aberlour
Ownership: Pernod Ricard
Region: Speyside (Banffshire)
Age: at least 11 years old (bottled 03.2022)
Maturation: Oloroso casks
Outturn: ???? bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 49.4%
(from a bottle split)

NEAT

Good start here on the nose. Walnuts, brine, dried cherries, Fig Newtons, and a hint of tar mix together well. Quieter notes of dried apples and new leather float around. It all gets fudgier with time. Almonds, hops, and very tangy citrus fill the palate's foreground. It gets much sweeter and bitterer with time. Mint candy, mixed nuts, and tannin finish it off.

DILUTED to ~46%abv, or ½ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

The nose loses its uniqueness, taking on black raisins, marzipan, golden raisins, carob, and a minor floral note. The palate is nothing but cinnamon syrup, stale nuts, and bitter bitter bitter oak. It finishes the same way.

WORDS WORDS WORDS

Aside the bitter oak, there's nothing really wrong with this whisky. But there's also not much that's really right about it, with the neat nose being the lone exception. On the whole, it feels generic, interchangeable with scores of other distilleries' large batch sherry cask releases. Thus it fits in with the OB Aberlour style that doesn't offer much that can't be had elsewhere.

Availability - Might still be around...
Pricing - ???
Rating - 80