I caused a wee bit of a ruckus ’round here when, not too long ago, I mentioned how much I loved this malt. There was a bit of “Jesus, he’s finally lost the plot, aye?” I must concede, I probably would have thought the same about me if you’d told me an Aberfeldy would be this coveted, but bear with me a moment.
Just over a year ago now, on the eve of our annual Christmas party, I poured out about a half a bottle of this stuff for the last dozen or so malt-swillin’ stragglers. I handed out glasses and listened with barely subdued glee to a rising chorus of “holy shit!” and “What is this?”. So…before you consider me certifiable (which I may well be, but not necessarily for my opinions on this malt), do understand that I definitely do not stand alone on this one. Gordon & MacPhail are well known for their rather…ummm…anally retentive approach to managing their own malt casking. But whisky such as this 24 year old Highlander is a perfect case study in just why they do it. There is simply no other brand or bottler in the world that succeeds so consistently at capturing those ancient, antique-y notes in their whiskies. And thank God they do; this is one of my absolute favorite flavor profiles. Utterly spectacular.
58.7% abv. 586 bottles from a first fill sherry puncheon.
Nose: Man. What a dinosaur. Antique-y and singular. Some old school fuel notes (tight charred oak tones that sort of hint at kerosene or coal smoke or something). Very old Armagnac. Polished wood. Chocolate. Espresso. Demerara. Ancient sherry. Flambeed banana, where maybe the alcohol isn’t entirely burnt off. Old leather armchairs. Rich hardwoods. All the mixed smells of Black Magic Dark Chocolate, but dusted in ash and wafted with smoke. I could go on and on and on…
Palate: Licorice. Chocolate. Like chewing sticks of charred oak. Malt. Bitter orange zest. Figs and dates. Bitter grapefruit pith and guava. Good old Armagnac and even older Jamaican rum. Charred tropical fruit. Marmite. Very oily.
Finish: Like a Cuban cigar with Armagnac. Dark chocolate, high cacao. A tad waxy and a bit dirty. Looong.
Thoughts: What can I say? I adore it.
92/100 (That’s as objective as I can be, but I might love it a bit more than that even, if I’m being honest. But let’s stick to a fair score.)