There are films I always stop to watch, when I come across them on television. It’s as if my brain goes onto autopilot and comfortably surrenders to the sense of familiarity. There’s nothing I can do about it. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen each one, the outside world can wait. Examples are Casino Royale, Fight Club, Pride and Prejudice, The Green Mile, Gladiator, As Good as it gets, Lethal Weapon, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Bourne Supremacy, Inception, Gattaca, Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Mission Impossible 4. It’s strange because they have nothing in common, other than the fact there are hypnotic.
The most magnetic of all is Constantine. Constantine is, for me, is the equivalent of Peppa Pig for the little pup. But instead of Peppa counting to ten, there are demons. Instead of George and his dinosaurs, there’s Lucifer – who by the way deserves some deference here. Played by Swedish actor Peter Stormare, the devil completely steals the show from the moment he appears on screen. In fact, perhaps therein lies the appeal: watching Keanu Reeves and waiting for the dog to appear. Not me, the Devil.
Something similar happens with Dewar’s 12 years and its main component, Aberfeldy 12 years. Once firmly in the background and used mainly for blended whiskies – especially the Dewar’s line – the Aberfeldy whiskies are comparable to the devil. The Devil in Constantine.
They have recently gained prominence thanks to Bacardi, owner of Dewar’s and the Aberfeldy, MacDuff, Brackla, Aultmore and Craigellachie distilleries, which finally decided to bottle its single malts. The result was the group called Last Great Malts of Scotland.
Bacardi couldn’t have made a better decision. Taking its malts out of the background, the brand was able to demonstrate the quality and personality of each of the main components of its blends. Previously, unbeknown even to those interested in single malts, these whiskies were given the chance to shine. Some, like Aberfeldy 12 years, stole the scene from the other lead roles.
Aberfeldy 12 years is the youngest expression in Aberfeldy’s current portfolio. In addition, the distillery has a 16, an 18 and a 21 year old, as well as certain limited editions. What is curious about Aberfeldy – and indeed, all the distilleries belonging to Bacardi – is that their entire ranges have age statements. When questioned about this, Fraser Campbell, Dewar’s ambassador, jokingly quotes Tommy Dewar, “We have a great regard for old age when it is bottled.”
While we’re on the subject, let’s talk about Tommy Dewar. Although Aberfeldy has only recently been revealed to the public, the distillery is a central character in Dewar’s history. It was founded in the mid-1890s, when Tommy and his brother John decided to start producing – and not just blending – whisky. The place they chose was then three miles from where their father and founder of the company was born. It wasn’t chosen solely for sentimental purposes. Water is a very important component in whisky and back then it was important to have a source nearby that could be used by the distillery. In the case of Aberfeldy, the source was Pitilie Burn, which is also famous for possessing gold.
One of the most vaunted characteristics of Aberfeldy 12 years’ production process is the long fermentation of its wash. It takes between 72 and 88 hours, much longer than the average for distilleries. According to Aberfeldy, it is this long fermentation that produces the honey and caramel aromas characteristic of the single malt. The Aberfeldy stills are heated with steam and the second distillation is relatively long – resulting in an only slightly oily malt.
The 12-year-old Aberfeldy has received numerous awards since its relatively recent release. Among them is a 2014 World Whisky Awards gold medal in the Highlands Single Malt aged 12 years or less category. It was also named a “master” by the Scotch Whisky Masters, for being a whisky from the Highlands and Islands aged 12 years or older, in 2013.
Even for those trying it for the first time, the 12-year-old Aberfeldy has a very familiar flavour. It’s an herbal whisky, with honey, vanilla and fruit. The finish is medium, sweet and extremely pleasant. You can drink it effortlessly and the next sip is almost automatic. It’s almost like the film you stumble across on television. Even if you’ve seen it a hundred times, there is a mesmerizing fascination in all of them.
ABERFELDY 12 YEARS
Type: Single malt with age statement – 12 years
Aroma: Honey, vanilla, floral and light.
Flavour: Honey, vanilla caramel with milk, fruit compote. Medium finish, sweet with lots of honey.