It’s a well-known fact that I have a major thing for wine. Nevertheless, I’m also attracted to the other adventure playgrounds that a house bar offers – and which make a house bar so exciting. One of the greatest journeys of discovery is into the world of whiskey. I celebrate how many different flavors you can find in the countless bottlings from Scotland to Japan. You don’t have to save up for years and invest thousands of euros. Especially for beginners and the curious, there are many affordable experiences waiting on the whisky journey that are worth trying. However, one small basic rule should be observed: the zone 30. No, this does not mean a speed limit, although you should of course always enjoy whiskey relaxed and sip by sip. Please take your time here! No, zone 30 means: From the 30 euro price limit, you can safely strike – below that, please do not. Good craftsmanship has its price, and from this level on, exciting and intense aromas go on board, which make the journey of discovery so appealing. With Aberfeldy 12 from Scotland, for example, you may always think of a bee. Why is that?
To visit such a real whiskey distillery is on my bucket list for a long time. Maybe that will work out soon. After all, once you get an impression of the production process on site, you enjoy the final product even more consciously than you already do – the same is true when I visit winemakers in person. Aberfeldy Distillery is located in a lush valley in the foothills of the central Highlands of Scotland. Known as the “Golden Dram,” the distillery’s water source is the famous Pitilie Burn, renowned in the region for its water quality and gold deposits. Old-world techniques like prolonged fermentation conjure up rare honey notes – key to the characteristic sweetness of Aberfeldy malts. That makes the gold-and-black look of the labels make sense, too, doesn’t it?
Lush green outside, liquid gold inside: a view of the Aberfeldy Distillery.
Somehow, such pictures with countless barrels always make you a bit awestruck. On the one hand, because you get an idea of what kind of treasure trove lies before you. The dates on the barrels take you on a journey through time; some of the contents in the wood are older than I am. And you can imagine what tasks rest on the shoulders of the master distillers, who accompany the whiskies on this journey through time, and ensure that the perfect taste is at the end. And judge this mainly with nose and palate. My respect for this sensory craft.
Aberfeldy Distillery: Who, how what?
To get an even better insight into the world of Aberfeldy whiskies, it is worth asking an expert. I had the pleasure that Andreas Künster, BACARDI Malt Ambassador Germany (for the brands Aberfeldy, Craigellaiche, Royal Brackla, Aultmore, The Deveron), took time for me and my questions.
Speaks fluent whisky: Andreas Künster, Malt Ambassador of Aberfeldy, among others.
What makes Aberfeldy special? Are there certain philosophies in the production or certain steps that provide its own flavor?
When it comes to Scotch whisky distilling, every little step is crucial; from the type of grain to the shape of your pot still, to the barrels you’re ageing your Scotch in, it all makes a difference. Every little detail plays its part! Our attention to these processes creates the rich honey smoothness of Aberfeldy – our honey notes enhanced due to over 70 hours of fermentation. Together with the shape of our stills and the combination of our barrels, we have created a beautifully balanced Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky.
Which whisky is particularly suitable for beginners to get to know the distillery and its product range?
If you’re going to explore Aberfeldy for the first time, I recommend trying Aberfeldy 12 Year Old because these flavours are at the heart of every dram we create. The other aromas in our range then shift from crisp and light to heavier and darker notes due to the influence of our barrels.
Which whisky is best suited for enjoying neat, which does well in mixed drinks?
The Aberfeldy range works within drinks, but it can also be enjoyed neat. It all depends on the flavour profile you are searching for, as well as the price you are willing to spend on a cocktail. We always encourage you to play with the aromas of Aberfeldy 12 Year Old in cocktails, such as the Aberfeldy Gold Fashioned, the Aberfeldy Golden Hot Toddy and the ‘Aberfeldy r Herbed Honey Smash’, due to its versatility. Aberfeldy 16 Year Old or 21 Year Old could be used in cocktails, however these whiskies should be enjoyed neat, in order to fully capture the rich flavours. These drams are perfect for special occasions, or for rewarding yourself after a long day!
What flavours should you particularly focus on when tasting Aberfeldy 12YO to get the idea behind it? What should beginners pay attention to in terms of aroma and taste in order to be able to enjoy the whisky in a way that brings out all its qualities?
Aberfeldy is all about smoothness and honey richness! You will discover some crisp orange hints and subtle flavours of the heather that grows in the Scottish Highlands. Our Aberfeldy 12 Year Old has a malty thickness on the palette, with spices such as vanilla and cinnamon coming through too. This whisky has smoky hints, but this is not because we peat our whisky, rather that we use specific re-charred casks that leave traces of smokiness behind.
It’s important to know that there is no right or wrong way of enjoying Aberfeldy – and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! When it comes to exploring Scotch whisky, it’s all about time. If you want to get deep into drinking neat, you need to give the whisky some time on the nose and specifically on the palette. It waited for ages for you to open it at that specific moment, so make sure you enjoy it! Your tongue is not as strong as you might think, with most of the magic happening when you smell the beautiful aromas of the dram. To enhance and savour the sweet and thick texture of ABERFELDY, swirl your dram on your tongue for a couple of seconds more. Overall, take your time to enjoy, focus on yourself, pay attention to what’s happening inside and outside of the glass and you’ll notice the difference in taste.
Aberfeldy 12 – Self-test
Who follows me and the blog and knows also: Nothing is presented or recommended here that I have not tasted myself, and which has also convinced me. I myself am not a whiskey expert, I just enjoy tasting, discovering, so a whiskey is always a reflection of its region. You can sense salty sea, smoky notes, the soft water, plus the dates with different casks, which depending on the previous content (wine, other whiskey, sherry) bring new notes of vanilla or chocolate. In the case of the Aberfeldy 12, I’m taken with its accessibility, but it doesn’t come across as wallflowery at all. I do want to recommend spirits for curious beginners here, and they definitely get their money’s worth here. You don’t have to be afraid of smokiness – the Aberfeldy 12 also sends slight smoke signals, but quite subtly towards the end.
Smooth, cozy, but with finesse: the Aberfeldy 12.
Notes of spices and honeyed, plump fruits dance in the nose first anyway. This honey note provides a nice Cozyness, without it becoming cheesy, because the spices announce themselves again and again. When drinking, the first sip then seems almost syrupy, then vanilla and caramel flirt with each other before the aforementioned smoke also has a word to say. A very smooth and versatile whisky (making it a smart buddy for drinks), but one that has retained its pithiness – a great conversation piece for the colder months, and a good starting point to build on with even pithier whiskies.
Nice detail: On the cover you can read the most important facts about the distillery.
The recipe: The Golden Hot Toddy with Aberfeldy 12
The honeyed sweet spice and nutmeg notes of Aberfeldy 12 Year Old are elevated when stirred with local honey and spice, with a touch of cinnamon to finish, to create this cosy cocktail – perfect for warming up on a cold winter’s day.
Edles Dressing, einfaches Rezept: So ein Hot Toddy steigert das Genussniveau.
- 50 ml ABERFELDY 12 Year Old
- 15ml Local honey syrup*
- 20ml Lemon juice
- Spice mix
- Hot water, to top
- Garnish: Cinnamon stick and lemon wheel
- Combine Aberfeldy 12 Year Old, honey syrup, hot water, lemon juice and spices in a heatproof toddy glass or mug and stir gently until completely combined
- Garnish with a cinnamon stick and lemon wheel
- *To make honey syrup, combine equal parts local honey and hot water and stir until honey dissolves
- *To make spice mix, combine 1/2 cinnamon stick, 1tsp fresh ground nutmeg, 6 cloves, 1 lemon wheel, 1 star anise and 1/2 vanilla pod
Unboxing times differently: The whiskey in noble cover can not only give away, but also pour yourself.
Find more infos about the Aberfeldy Whisky and Aberfeldy Distillery here.