...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)


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.


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)


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.


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