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The Aberfeldy 21 was one of the first few whiskies I bought early on. Don't really know why other than it seemed fairly affordable for a 21 year old whisky and I believe it was generally rated quite high among critics.
What do I personally think of Aberfeldy? I don't, actually. I've had the 12 year old at a bar somewhere and was completely unmoved. I had this one sitting on my shelf for the longest time and was completely unmotivated to open it.
Aberfeldy, owned by Bacardi, is the largest component of malts to go into the Dewars blend which would explain it's 3.5 million litre annual spirit output.
The distillery itself puts out three single malts as part of it's original bottles: the 12, 18 and the 21 with the rest going into blends or snapped up by independents.
This 21 year old from the Highland region has been finished off in sherry casks having spent a large part of it's life in both first and second-fill bourbon barrels.
My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at a weakish 40%
Nose: Honey. Heather. Malt. Fruits. Soft apricots. Poached apples. The tiniest of toasted oak. Puff pastry. Sliver of dough. Eucalyptus. Let it breathe and it mellows. Now more floral. Heathery. Oranges. It's a nice enough nose. 22/25
Palate: Quite thin. Takes time to evolve. But then comes around nicely. Oranges. Butterscotch. Vanilla. Red apples. That same toasted oak as on the nose. Chew it a while to get some purple fruits. Decent. 22/25
Finish: Lingers. Quite dry. Woody. Hint of spice. Betel leaf. 21/25
Overall comments: It's very hard to rate a whisky like this. It didn't offer me the complexity that I was looking for nor offer me anything unusual, to be honest. And maybe that's the reason it does well in a blend.
I have to understand that not everyone is looking for fireworks when it comes to their whiskies. Some just like to keep things simple.
And that's exactly what this whisky is.