Whiskies aged in first-fill Sherry butts are especially so, and those drawn entirely from such sherried stock are invariably known as “sherry bombs” for the potent flavors the malt whisky has derived from its time spent mingling with the sherry-soaked wood. The ‘Sherried’ character, therefore, is down to the Sherry itself, but also oxidation and the way in which the Sherry has interacted with and changed compounds in the oak. All of these then interact over time with the maturing spirit.
The Sherry and wood form a pincer movement that stamps out distillery character or any sense of identity in the distillate itself. For me, a great Sherry-matured malt should possess a balance between distillery identity, fruitiness, earthiness and a lick of spice. Sherry bombs almost always eschew this tightrope balance in favour of heat, density and aggression of wood flavor.
16 year old single malt from the Aberfeldy distillery, unveiled in the latter half of 2015 as part of the Last Great Malts series. This expression is finished in Oloroso Sherry casks, imparting juicy sweetness to the whisky. Aberfeldy 16 Year Old is matured in a combination of ex-bourbon casks and the finest ex-sherry butts. This maturation ensures the depth of character as well as the distinctive fruitiness and spiciness of Aberfeldy.
ABV: 43%. Color: Rich golden amber
A toasty nose with aromas of hazelnut, toffee and sugar cookies. Rich, dry scented floral and sweet raisin aromas with spicy nuttiness. Raisins and cinnamon at first, before moving onto butterscotch, caramel and apple slice. A touch of floral malt, too.
The arrival is fruity with warm spice accents. Oak shows up at the back and sides of the tongue. You really want to let this one sit in your mouth for as long as possible so the soft, rich sherry and oak flavours have enough time to develop fully. Well rounded and mellow, but not lazy at all. More apple at first, soon joined by clementine segments and honey on toast. A spark of ginger. Spicier on the palate with plenty of cinnamon, nutmeg and mace, there is a back note of toasted oats and light vanilla accents. Smooth, full, sweet floral and spicy flavours with a soft plum fruitiness and gentle oakiness.
Long, warm, spicy fruitiness. The supple mouthfeel is silky all the way through. Waxy peels and oak.
Balance, Body & Feel
Top notch release from Aberfeldy, and good value too. Balance: on the whole, this is a little more subtle than I expected. The best part is the arrival of the flavor as it sits on the tongue. The hint of smoke is nice as well and shows up more clearly in the empty glass.