Monday, February 22, 2016

Boozehound Unfiltered: Aberfeldy 12 Year

Whiskey is an expensive vice and I've got a backlog of my own I'm trying to clear out so I can make room for more and that means, on occasion, I conduct judicious raids on the Parental Liquor Cabinet, as my Old Man, sharing in my vice, tends to have a few bottles of his own going. With a potential move on the horizon and the house being inspected by our prospective buyer, the boys, the dogs and I decamped for the Parentals and I went digging- and came up with a bottle of Aberfeldy 12 Year Old single malt.

I took to the internet and started learning about Aberfeldy- it's a Highland malt (which is a nice change, as I'm heavy on Islays right now- with an Ardbeg and a Kilchoman in my liquor cabinet) and was founded by John Dewar and sons in 1898. They use Scottish barley, yeast and water- and the water was the interesting part. The distillery uses the waters of the Pitilie Burn which runs nearby and- get this, there are apparently deposits of real live gold in the stream, which is why Aberfeldy calls itself 'The Golden Dram.'

Here's the thing: when whiskies like Talisker make a big deal of their proximity to the ocean, I can sort of buy in- there's a certain saltiness to that dram that puts you in mind of the wild, open isle of Skye and the spray of sea water- as a critical consumer, you might take it with a grain of salt and chalk up a lot of it to brand positioning, but there's just enough in the dram to make you wonder. With Aberfeldy though, I have to ask: just how much gold can their be in the Pitilie Burn? And more to the point, what would the presence of gold do to the chemical composition of the water and just how much does that alter the end product? (The first question stems more from my skepticism with whiskies and how they market themselves, the second I would be genuinely fascinated to find out more about.)

But, to the whiskey:

Color: Just for laughs, since the boys were being refugees at the Parentals during our house inspection, I asked the Madre what color she thought it looked like. Her response: "Piss." My final verdict was honey-caramel gold. Which seems like three choices instead of one, but hear me out: the shade wasn't dark enough to land solidly in honey or amber- but it wasn't brown enough to be caramel or gold either. So I made up a color- so sue me.

Body: Lots of fruit in the nose of this one, but I surprised myself by actually deciding that the fruit with the mostest, as it were was melon- there were also lots of floral notes and just a touch of spice- what spice, however, I couldn't nail down. (My brain always wants to default to cinnamon or nutmeg and I want to try and be more specific than that- so I can, you know, get better at this.)

Palate: This was the real surprise of the Aberfeldy: it's beautifully light, but not weak- which seems like a rarity to me- but then again, I haven't tried that many whiskies- or at least not as many as I'd like. The viscosity is closer to water than syrup, but the flavor profile doesn't drop off in the taste- there's a nice hint of citrus peel in the initial taste.

Finish: It comes on in a rush, which would normally worry me, because if you front load your finish too much, then you end up with more burn than warming, which isn't necessarily pleasant- but the initial rush fades

Overall: Solid and complex, the Aberfeldy 12 Year Old is a respectable dram- however, while I enjoyed the complexity of the body, it didn't make my socks roll up and down all that much. And while I didn't take a first pass at this whiskey, I did try it twice and the second time around, I just drank it and didn't examine it so much and it didn't really make a lasting impression on me. So, I'm going to have to go with a solid: B

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