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I recently paid a visit to the small Perthshire town of Aberfeldy. By some miracle, Scotland appeared to be experiencing something that resembled summer, as warm sunshine illuminated the lush green hills that encircle the town. Such beautiful weather almost made me think twice about spending the afternoon in a distillery, but like a true professional, I soldiered on and got the job done. It’s a hard life for a whisky blogger you know.
Aberfeldy is owned by John Dewar & Sons (itself part of Bacardi-Martini) and produces a single malt Scotch whisky that primarily contributes to the Dewar’s blend. The distillery has been a part of the Dewar’s master plan since it was built in 1896. It was founded by John Dewar’s sons and was designed by famed architect Charles Doig, the man known for the invention of the pagoda roof that crowns many a Scottish distillery.
Aberfeldy is something of a tourist attraction. Their dedicated World of Whisky museum tells the story of the Dewar’s brand in great detail. Tours follow the usual routine, taking in each stage of the production process, though my usual distillery luck was with me on the day – the stillroom was out of bounds thanks to some “unexpected maintenance work”. To their credit, however, the staff knocked a little off the price as compensation. The tour 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 World of Whisky museum is like nothing I’ve seen at any other distillery. It begins with a video in one of the plushest cinema rooms I’ve seen in any tourist facility. Guests are then escorted into an atmospherically lit shrine to 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 that show the length of time this brand has been active. The crowning glory, however, is the Library. This room is arranged like a grand study, with bookshelves weighted down by copious volumes of encyclopedia Brittanica and various other sizeable tomes. On the antique desk, sketches and blueprints for Aberfeldy distillery were scattered 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, which comes complete with a whisky bar.
Aberfeldy did offer a distillery exclusive bottling, but it was a bit richly priced for me so I opted to take home a bottle of their standard 12-year-old instead. This came bottled at 40% and retailed for around £35.
Smell: Fudge, Honey and Vanilla with Toffee, Apple and Pear
Taste: Vanilla, Honeycomb, Caramel and Toffee with a touch of Cinnamon Spice.
Thoughts: Aberfeldy is a pretty textbook example of the central Highlands character. It’s honeyed, malty, heathery and fruity. It’s a world away from the coastal whiskies of the Western Isles yet also differs from the delicate, fruity Speysides. It’s not the boldest whisky I’ve ever come across and normally I enjoy the more robust drams, but I still found this enjoyable and, more and more, I’m appreciating variety and diversity in my cabinet at home. I find that I want to have the option to enjoy various different flavour profile depending on my mood and there is certainly a time for Aberfeldy. Especially when it’ll cost you the reasonable sum of £35.
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For more on Dewer’s Aberfeldy Distillery…
2 thoughts on “A Visit to Aberfeldy Distillery (and 12-year-old single malt review)”
I paid a visit this year ,April to be exact and it was my second visit in two years fist visit was for free good tour got all the usual Pictures and sample tasting , plus the pictures from the aberfeldy site that they send you
Lovely wee distillery. I’d definitely be happy to visit again. Maybe I’d do one of the more in depth tours next time.