[Review] Aberfeldy - 12 years old 40%

I have not really had the opportunity to drink much Aberfeldy since I set off on my whisky journey. The first reason is probably the fact that it isn't a peated whisky, and peat was the main component I was looking for at the beginning. Aberfeldy 12 is a highland single malt known for its gentle honeyed and spicy character and again, this has never featured very high up on my priority list. It is one of the main components of the Dewar's blend as the distillery was created by John Dewar and Sons Ltd in 1898 and still belongs to the Dewar's group today.

I have tried the 12 year-old once before, during a food and whisky pairing session I attended last year in Manchester (find the review here). It was paired with fresh pineapple and I must say the experience was very enjoyable. As I concluded: "a good alternative to rum with tropical fruit!" 
I have also tried a single cask Aberfeldy and a bottle from an independent bottler but nothing mesmerizing in my opinion. So when I realised my dad had a bottle opened, I thought it was time to give it a proper chance.

As you might have realised, the bottle my dad has is the old presentation for it with the good old squirrel on the label. This was changed in 2014 and replaced by the black and gold presentation we know today. However, the whisky should not really have changed. It is still bottle at 40%, coloured and chill-filtered. It is the mass-marketed introduction to the range after all!

Nose: Sweet, honey, mildly spicy too. There is some fruit in there (green apple and pear) and some malt note as well, with hints of raisins.

Palate: Sweet and malty, vanilla and hints of spice and smoke. After a few sips there is more bitterness coming through.

Finish: Warmth of the malt with some smoky notes. The smoke actually comes after a couple of seconds into the finish before changing quite rapidly, evolving into some bitterness (bitter orange). It isn't very long in my mind, I just wish the smoke lingered for longer...

With water: The nose gets fruitier and less spicy, rounder and less citric. The palate gets a much more watery feel (really I hear you say?! Yes but the 2 drops I added changed the mouthfeel a bit too much I feel) There isn't as much happening except the spice is back. The finish still gets some smoke, the spice comes through more and the bitterness is still taking over at the end. Better without water in my opinion.

Overall, has my original opinion changed on this bottle... I must say, not really. It does what it is supposed to do: a good, gentle, honey and spice introduction to the world of Aberfeldy. Would I buy a bottle myself? In all honesty probably not as it isn't my kind of whisky and I have way too many bottles on my "to-buy" list before I can think of adding one of these to it. Would I accept it as a gift? Certainly! 


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