I recently paid a visit to the small Perthshire town of Aberfeldy. By some miracle Scotland appeared to be experiencing something resembling summer as sunshine illuminated the lush green hills which encircled the town. Such beautiful weather almost made me think twice about spending the afternoon inside a distillery but like a true professional I soldiered on and got the job done. It’s a hard life.
Aberfeldy Distillery is owned by John Dewar & Sons (itself part of Bacardi-Martini) and produces a single malt which primarily contributes to the Dewar’s blend. The distillery has been a part of the Dewar’s master plan since it’s birth in 1896. Founded by John Dewar’s two sons in 1896, the distillery was designed by famed architect Charles Doig, known for the invention of the pagoda which crowns many a malt distillery even today.
Aberfeldy distillery is something of a tourist attraction with their dedicated ‘World of Whisky’ museum telling the story of the Dewar’s brand. Tours follow the usual routine with a walk through each stage of the production process, my usual distillery luck was with me on the day as I was advised by my guide that the still-room was out of bounds due to ‘unexpected maintenance work’, to their credit however, a little was knocked off the price. The ticket included a dram of either Dewar’s 12 year old blend, Dewar’s White Label or Aberfeldy 12 year old but I opted to pay a little extra (about £7 more) in order to try a dram straight from the cask in the warehouse. This turned out to be a 1989 vintage of some 27 years old.
The Dewar’s World of Whisky museum meanwhile, is like nothing I’ve seen at any other distillery. Beginning with a video in one of the plushest cinema rooms I’ve seen in any tourist facility, I was then released onto an atmospheric walk through the history of Dewar & Sons. There are old advertisements to peruse, cabinets full of classic bottles to admire and time capsules inserted in the floor which give an impression of the length of time the brand has been active. The crowning glory however is the Library, an area done up like some grand study, complete with shelves weighted down by copious volumes of encyclopedia brittanica and various other sizeable tomes. On the antique desk, sketches and blueprints for the distillery seemed to await approval and an enticing decanter full of a rich golden liquid drew the eye. Alas, this was merely a prop, fixed shut at the lid (of course I checked!). Each drawer opened revealed more documents and detailed information to take in. Then, once my curiosity was satisfied, I exited into the extremely welcoming cafe and shop area, complete with whisky bar.
Before I went upon my merry way I picked up a bottle of the 12 year old Aberfeldy malt. It is a pleasant dram with notes of Fudge, Honey and Vanilla with Toffee, Apple and Pear on the nose, while the palate has creamy Vanilla, Honeycomb, Caramel and Toffee with a touch of Cinnamon Spice. It is a fine example of a central Highlands single malt.
The Scores: About the scoring system…
Smell: An attractive nose, dominated by that Vanilla Fudge Character.
Taste: Simple yet effective, lightly warming dram.
Value for Money: Usually around £30 – £35 a bottle so very much an affordable dram.
Overall: 40.5 / 50.
Perhaps not the boldest profile but the lighter style is a welcome change from some of the ‘louder’ bottles in my collection – and there can be few complaints at £30 a bottle.