“Must be 21” – Dec 2016 Tasting


To celebrate the end of the year and our new location at Tubby’s we decided to do something a little special, by purchasing three 21 year old bottles. This turned out to be our most expensive purchase thus far, which exceeded our budget, but was well worth a few extra bucks, thanks to everyone for pitching in to make this happen. It was certainly a memorable evening.

1. Aberfeldy 21 Year    $146
Region: Highland
Casks: ex-bourbon and ex-sherry 
Nose: Blood oranges, honey, floral, oak, caramel, nutty, hint of campfire smoke
Palate: Hazelnut, oak, orange, wax, rosehip, heathery and herbal notes
Finish: Lingering finish, residual burnt sugar sweetness
ABV: 40%

The Aberfeldy  distillery is in the highland region, in the town of Aberfeldy. The prefix “Aber” like in Aberlour or Aberfeldy originates from a tribe of people called the Picts. The Picts inhabited Scotland before the Scotti invaded from Ireland, and the island was originally called Pictland. Interestingly, the Picts has a society in which their family name and land was passed down from mother to daughter, and the current master distiller for Aberfeldy is a woman. The distillery was founded by John Dewar, and most of what they distill is used to produce Dewar’s Blended Scotch. However Aberfeldy also makes 3 whiskes in their standard range which are the 12, 18 and the 21 year old.  The 21 year old was started in 2005 and is aged in bourbon and sherry casks. This whiskey is smooth and balanced, with some orange notes a touch of campfire smoke.

2. The Balvenie PortWood 21 Year   $180
Region: Speyside
Casks: 30 yr old ex-Port pipes
Nose: Fruity and ripe raisin notes
Palate: Creamy and silky with fruit, honey and spice notes
Finish:  Long and gentle nutty finish
ABV: 40%

Balvenie first started making the DoubleWood in 1993, and based on the overwlming success of the DoubleWood they decided to make the PortWood, just 2 years later in 1995. So this whiskey was aged in port pipes, a pipe is just a particular size of cask (550 liters). So when they first add the whiskey to the casks, the casks are already 30-40 yrs old. You’ll notice that the Port gives the whiskey a nice bronze, pinkish color. This is a very smooth and silky whiskey with some fruity and raisiny type notes, adding a splash of water will help bring out more of those fruity aromas and flavors.

3. The Glenlivet Archive 21 Year   $230
Region: Speyside
Casks: American Oak and ex-Sherry
Nose: Rich sherriy, dried fruit, oak, rum cake, raisin, vanilla and cinnamon
Palate: Oak flavored fruit cake, caramel, vanilla, sherry, dried fruit, cinnamon, syrupy mouthfeel
Finish: Long, warm, rich and spicy
ABV: 43%  

The Glenlivet 21 is from the Speyside region from the parish of Glenlivet, which is where the distillery gets its name. You probably know the story of Glenlivet, its was established in 1824, which was about 192 years ago by George Smith. George was was the first person in the Glenlivet parish to receive a license to run a distiller, so even though there were other distillery’s in that area that were using the name Glenlivet, he was the only one with a license so he was able to claim the name. Glenlivet has been in operation almost continuously and their 21 yr old is primarily aged in a mix of American and European Oak casks and finished in sherry casks. The 21 yr old used to be their oldest expression, but now it’s been superseded by the 25 year old as a part of their regular lineup. Some of the main characters from this whiskey are the oak, sherry and dried fruit, in addition it’s very balanced, smooth and easy to drink.

One Comment on ““Must be 21” – Dec 2016 Tasting

  1. Joe’s Mini Review:
    At the time the Aberfeldy seemed like my personal favorite that night, probably due to the fact that it was the one that had my lowest expectation, and it turned out to be really good, I appreciated the subtle mild peaty smoke, which the other two didn’t have.

    The Balvenie was great, it seemed really complex and I loved the raisin character. I guess I love everything Balvenie makes.

    While the Glenlivet was good, it just seemed a bit too oaky and slightly bland with a sharp lingering spicy finish. I suspect that by the time this whisky has aged for 21 years much of the lighter sherry and fruity notes have dissipated and the oak character from the casks begins to dominate the flavor. For the price at $230, this is a no buy for me.

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