A revived distillery worth checking out for its excellent whisky

The home of Dewar's White Label, once ignored and forgotten, this little distillery is battling back
  • Founded: 1896
  • Region: Highlands
  • Owners: John Dewar and Sons (Bacardi)
  • Visitor centre: YES
  • Website: www.dewars.com/

Struggling to define itself under its former owners, Aberfeldy has since seen a resurgence as part of Bacardi’s whisky portfolio.

Built in 1896 by brothers John and Tommy Dewar as a means to satisfy the demand for malt whisky for their blends, Aberfeldy joined the Dewar’s already growing whisky empire, set up by the father of the two brothers fifty years earlier.

The distillery grew steadily under the stewardship of John who stayed in Perth, while Tommy – the more natural salesman of the two – travelled the world spreading the name of their brand and using his wonderful persona to sell Dewars across the globe.

Tommy became well known for his marketing techniques and witticisms and was often quoted as saying ‘a teetotaller is one who suffers from thirst instead of enjoying it.’

Aberfeldy-Casks

The distillery has become somewhat of a museum to the Dewar empire and it’s interesting to see in these days of ‘single malt is king’, an emphasis being placed on the blend. The visitor centre is excellent and welcoming though may disappoint those seeking only to learn about Aberfeldy’s wonderful single malt.

The distillery was expanded in the 1970s to increase production and was used mainly as a direct feed to Dewar’s blend, though a single malt expression – a 15 year old flora and fauna – was released in the early 90s.

However, with Bacardi purchasing John Dewar and Sons from Diageo in 1998, the distillery – along with its stablemates Aultmore, Craigellachie and Royal Brackla – has begun to see its star rise once again.

Aberfeldy sits on the south bank of the river Tay and the distillery takes its water from the Pitilie Burn.

The distillery has now released a newly packaged – bottle and label – core range including their 12 and 21-year-olds which are worthy additions to any whisky aficionado’s collection.

 

aberfeldy-12-year-old-whisky

Expressions:

Aberfeldy 12 – Rich and fruity with hints of spiced honey, the 12-year-old is definitely one for fans of lighter whiskies. Mouth coating with a wonderful aftertaste of peaches and ice cream that lingers in the mouth for a long time after you’ve finished. If you are lucky enough to have a great sense of taste then you may just be able to tease out the slight smoke too, which adds an extra layer of complexity to this already cracking malt.

Aberfeldy 18: Originally launched for the travel retail market only, thankfully the 18-year-old has been added to the core range and is now more widely available. Warm, rich and engrossing with a robust nutty character that is all fruit trifle (fruit, jelly and cream) the 18-year-old is a great malt that is still relatively inexpensive (buy it quick before more people catch on).

Aberfeldy 21: The 21-year-old is a luxuriously rich malt best enjoyed with a huge group of friends following a raucous dinner party featuring hearty food and flowing drink.

Aberfeldy’s flagship malt, the 21 was launched in 2005 and has won several awards since. The smoke is more noticeable as is the cream, the fruit tends to be deeper here, more dried fruits than citrus light, has a magical after taste that will have you reaching for the bottle again and again.

About The Author

Sean Murphy

Driven by a passion for all things whisky-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over six years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink.

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