Whisky Advocate Award: Highland Single Malt of the Year
Aberfeldy 14 year old Single Cask, 58.1%, £115
Today, Aberfeldy is a Highland distillery that actually boasts a higher profile than the single malt it produces, thanks in part to the popular ‘Dewar’s World of Whisky’ visitor center based there. Aberfeldy distillery was built by the burgeoning Perth-based family business of John Dewar & Sons in the late 1890s, and like so many Victorian distilleries, it was constructed beside a railway line to facilitate transport.
By the time of Aberfeldy’s establishment, blended Scotch whisky was taking the world by storm, and the new distillery was intended solely to provide malt whisky for the company’s increasingly popular blends. After passing through other hands, including Diageo’s, it was one of four distilleries acquired with the John Dewar & Sons name by Bacardi in 1999.
Inevitably, the vast bulk of all Aberfeldy single malt produced at the Perthshire distillery remains destined for the blending vats to help Dewar’s maintain its number one blended Scotch whisky position in the U.S. Nonetheless, Bacardi is keen to make more of this neglected gem of a single malt, and sales of the Aberfeldy brand have increased by 400 percent in seven years to some 25,000 cases per year, with the principal offerings being 12 and 21 years of age.
Single cask Aberfeldy bottlings are very few and far between, and this 2011 release is right up there with the best. After initial hogshead maturation, the whisky ultimately underwent a period of finishing in an ex-sherry cask prior to bottling. Here’s hoping 2012 brings more Aberfeldy bottlings of equal excellence. —Gavin Smith
Whisky Advocate’s Lowland – Campbeltown Single Malt of the Year Award will be announced tomorrow.