Aberfeldy has become well-known for its series of 18 year old expressions, each finished in a different type of red wine cask. This year, Aberfeldy is flipping the script, just a bit, offering another red wine cask expression of its single malt that’s a more youthful 15 years old. The wine cask this time around: Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon barrels. (No information about the length of the finishing is provided.)
I haven’t always loved red wine-finished Scotches — but found this to be more successful than some, though it’s not without some flaws. The nose is rich and inviting, offering sultry notes of barrel char mixed with black fruit, currants, and some raisin notes. Quite spicy, almost racy, the fruit cuts through the underlying maltiness cleanly, but with a lightly peppered edge.
The more fragrant aspects of the whisky blow off with some air time, and while the palate kicks off with a bright blackcurrant note, it soon retreats to a more savory place. Mushrooms and toasted sesame oil emerge, alongside an oxidized, almost sherried wine note — more Amontillado than oloroso. Chewy in texture, evoking fruit leather and some coconut, the finish seems a touch sharp, with a floral quality to it.
There’s not a huge departure from Aberfeldy’s other red wine-finished whiskies here, but I think the youth has given this just a bit more intrigue to grab onto vs. some of its 18 year old expressions. Not to mention, it’s half the price.