This limited edition release of Aberfeldy 18 Years Old has an increasingly popular twist: finishing in red wine casks, which the distillery is rolling out for the second year running. In this case, the finishing barrels are from the Cote-Rotie region found in France’s Rhone Valley. There’s no word on the length of the finishing this time, but last year’s Bordeaux-finished bottling spent 4 to 5 months in the finishing cask.
Red wine finishing can be tricky with whisky, and this bottling is no exception to the rule. The impact of red wine is immediately evident on the nose, tannic and meaty, with cereal and spice notes serving to slightly temper the winey notes that otherwise wholly dominate. The palate feels similar, quite sharp with notes of pepper jerky, some currant notes giving the back end some much needed fruit. Toasty oak is big on the finish, but only for a moment, before the whisky retreats to notes of beef tallow and bacon fat.
The 2020 bottling of this limited release saw a much more different experience, considerably fruitier and sweeter throughout. Unfortunately, this release is just much too savory for easy enjoyment, that tannic backbone having its way with the delicate underlying spirit.
B / $140 / aberfeldy.com