Aberfeldy Exceptional Casks: 1998 & 1978

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Last month Aberfeldy released two new distillery exclusives, one is a 20 year old 1998 vintage, and the other is their oldest expression to date; a single cask which was filled in 1978. The 1998 is a double cask vatting, with two casks being married together and finished in a first fill oloroso sherry butt (#119 in case you’re interested) for four years. The 1978 release will comprise three separate single casks which will be rolled out one after another, with each being a refill bourbon hogshead. Should you wish to part with £2,500 to purchase a bottle of this, you’ll be able to fill your own bottle by hand in one of Aberfeldy’s warehouses. There will be approximately just under 400 bottles available across the three individual casks, with the first cask, #5029, being limited to 160 bottles, the second cask #5030, being limited to 134 bottles, and the final cask, #5031, being limited to just 97 bottles.

These whiskies were launched as part of a Tweet Tasting in November which was co-hosted by Dewar’s and Greg from GreatDrams, however I was unable to take part on the night as I was co-hosting a tasting of my own that night with The Drinks Lady. Better late than never, eh?

Aberfeldy 1998 Exceptional Cask
20 years old
618 bottles
54.1% ABV
£250 here

Nose: Orange marmalade, fruit loaf, star anise, manuka honey, freshly polished oak, glazed walnuts, espresso grounds, earthy spices, and dusty logs. Classic big, old sherry nose.

Palate: Those typical sherry fruits come through first, with plums, figs, juicy sultanas, and rum soaked raisins. Then the spices emerge, with clove, cinnamon, mace and a little zesty ginger. Some orange blossom, spiced honey, Demerara sugar and rich toffee too.

Finish: Cacao nibs, toasted nuts, tannic spice, and cask char.

Aberfeldy 1978 Exceptional Cask #5029
40 years old
160 bottles
50.2% ABV
£2,500 here

Nose: Sandalwood, cedarwood, beeswax, antique furniture, vintage leather, paraffin and waxed cricket bat. Then some fresher notes of orange oils, poached apple, apricot jam, pecan nuts, and overripe banana and pineapple.

Palate: lovely oily mouthfeel, with vanilla candles, more beeswax, musky incense sticks, homemade Millionaire’s Shortbread, hessian, canvas, and some old, well looked after, Chesterfields. Then overripe tropical fruits, floral honey, a little dark chocolate, and some gentle cask stave too.

Finish: Dunnage warehouses, lingering dried fruit and nut mix, and some sweet black tea. Gorgeous.

Overall: Two delicious, and quite different releases. The sherry finish on the 20yo (is it still a finish if it’s 4 years long?) really steers this whisky towards a classically rich and spicy, sherry-lover’s delight. It loses some subtlety and finesse in the process, but it remains a delicious dram. The 40yo, on the other hand, really showcases everything I love about old whisky. Those aromatic woods, overripe tropical notes, unctuous fruits, and oily, waxy mouthfeel combine to produce a wonderful whisky. Quite stunning stuff.



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