The Aberfeldy distillery was built a quarter of a mile east of Aberfeldy village by the Dewar brothers. Tommy and John Jnr, to supply fillings for the increasingly successful blends. We’ve had our fair share of Aberfeldy in the past but this new expression, which was introduced only a few weeks ago, is quite special. Aberfeldy’s French Red Wine Cask Collection launched in 2019 with the first release of Aberfeldy 15 Year Old, finished in Pomerol casks from Bordeaux, the second release in 2020 was an 18 Year Old expression finished in Pauillac casks, also from Bordeaux. For the third bottling in the series, Malt Master, Stephanie Macleod has chosen a robust yet elegant style of wine for this year’s offering.
The famous Côte Rôtie is a prestigious red wine appellation at the northern tip of France’s Rhône Valley. The area is a mere 40 miles long and is responsible for a tiny 4–5% of all the wines from the region. Côte Rôtie, translated as “Roasted Slope”, is home to some of the steepest vineyards in all of France. Wines are predominantly made from the Syrah grape, which thrives in the well-draining granite soils, offering depth of flavour and complex aromatics with dark red berry characteristics and sensuous, silky textures that caress the palate. Up to 20 percent of Viognier can be used, adding finesse, elegance and floral characteristics to the wine.
On the nose: you’ll get a lovely waft of sanguinello oranges, raisins, dried forest fruits, toffee and a hint of vanilla. These initial notes are closely followed by notes of marzipan, mixed spices. cracked black pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon and muscovado sugar. Rounding-off the nose are notes of stem ginger, lemon peel, green herbs, mint, a suggestion of a meaty note and beeswax. On the palate: those sweet dried fruits and raisins are ever-present, followed by a grape note and vanilla. Notes of cinnamon and mixed spices start to appear, alongside a meaty note. Rounding-off the palate are notes of bergamot, blood red oranges, muscovado sugar, aniseed, green herbs, ginger, rosemary and a hint of mint. The finish: is medium/long, bittersweet, with a lingering star anise, mint and oak.
The verdict: The 18yo Aberfeldy is a lovely dram, so when I heard of this new 18yo expression that had been finished in Côte Rôtie casks, I of course had some good expectation – going off the previous releases. This 18-year-old Aberfeldy is a beautiful dram from nose to palate and offers up some lovely, light enticing notes, that are very well balanced. Bottled at 43%, this 18yo expression really doesn’t require any water, however, feel free to add some if required for your taste. Leaving it to breathe for 5 – 10 minutes also yields more notes.
Aberfeldy 18 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky is a limited edition and will cost you approximately £95. For more information on this 18-year-old expression, visit the official Aberfeldy website.