Single Malt Scotch Whisky
It’s difficult to understand the single malt Scotch that is Aberfeldy without first getting to know the original reason for its existence. The distillery was originally built to produce the source whisky that would be blended into Dewar’s. Let’s be clear, it’s not the only whisky that goes into the blend; that’s why it’s a blend. But it is the reason the distillery was built. That’s a very different origin story than most distilleries.
John Dewar opened a wine and spirits shop in Perth, Scotland in 1846 and by the 1860s he was creating whisky blends. At the time this was a sort of novel idea. After his passing in 1880 John Alexander and Thomas Robert, his 24- and 16-year-old heirs, continued the family business, renaming it John Dewar and Sons. In spite of their youth, they managed to grow the business to the point that they outgrew their suppliers, forcing them to build the distillery at Aberfeldy in 1898. With the new distillery pumping out quality whisky for their blends, the company released their flagship Dewar’s White Label.
The company went through a series of mergers starting in 1925 until it was eventually acquired by Bacardi-Martini in 1998. Almost immediately after the acquisition, the Aberfeldy Highland Single Malt Scotch brand was born. Up until that moment, every ounce of whisky produced at Aberfeldy went into Dewar’s blends. The first Aberfeldy to be released was the 12 Year Old, later joined by the 16 and 21 Year Olds, as well as Madeira finished version of the 16 and 21.
Bacardi-Martini also invested heavily in the distillery and in 2000 opened one of the better whisky education centers at the distillery. Whether you’re a fan of Aberfeldy/Dewar’s or not, a visit to the Dewar’s Aberfeldy visitor’s center is an absolute must for any whisky lover, and if you really want to geek out, enroll in their WSET (Whisky and Spirits Education Trust) approved courses.
Unlike many of its Highland neighbors, the nose on the Aberfeldy 12 is subtle and delicate and benefits from letting the whisky sit in the glass for a few minutes. There are notes of pear, honey, vanilla, and a slight hint of smoke. On the palate the whisky is light and approachable for newcomers to single malts. Oaky spice is present along with hints of citrus and honey on the back end. You’ll notice that the flavors get sweeter with every subsequent taste.
CIGAR PAIRING: Davidoff Aniversario
The Davidoff Aniversario Double R is impeccably made and produces tons of thick smoke with flavors of cedar, soft spice, and raw almonds. The pairing brings out a rich, rounded sweetness in the whisky, giving it a viscosity that was not previously there. The cigar’s profile changes to incorporate more of a toasted characteristic while accenting the cedar in a wonderful way. It took quite a few attempts to arrive at this pairing and now I can’t stop.
We partnered with Total Wine & More (totalwine.com) to put this featured together and Pablo Estades was instrumental in making it happen. Thanks, Pablo.