Scotch is a wildly polarizing subject amongst those who imbibe, and that swing of opinions is considerably increased by those new to whisky. Aberfeldy occupies a unique space in the Scotch category due to its approachability and versatility, making it a perfect choice for the whisky neophyte.—
Last month, I had the honor of meeting with Jonathan Peterson, a brand ambassador for Bacardi, which owns a handful of single malt distilleries. With both a deep reverence and knowledge of single malt whisky, Mr. Peterson led me and a guest through a special “Father’s Day Golden Hour” event that not only delved into the history of the brand but where it intends to go as interest in whisky is continually on the rise.
Before we get deep into the conversation held at the event, let’s use the Spirit.Ed space for what it was intended and break down what defines a single malt. Simply put, Single malt whisky essentially means the whisky was produced and bottled by a lone distillery. You may have seen the term blended whisky, which stands in contrast as the whisky is made of two or more malt or grain whiskies. Further, single malt is not the same concept as a single barrel as you’ll see in the American Whiskey category. A single malt can use the liquid from several barrels so long as it was made in the same distillery.
I’ll be completely straight with the readers. I previously didn’t enjoy Scotch. I always found the spirit to have an undertone that was wildly unfamiliar to my palate and I found ease in other spirits. I also largely drink cocktails, not that I don’t enjoy the taste of neat liquor, but because I enjoy the culinary practice of it all. I’m glad to say that Aberfedly achieves both goals splendidly but more on that in a moment.
As we sipped on a pair of cocktails offered during the “Father’s Day Golden Hour” event, Peterson was patient in answering my questions with stark detail. We opened our conversation with a deep explainer of Aberfeldy and its various offerings.
“The single malt category is a favorite of mine and Aberfeldy offers some core expressions,” Peterson began. The Aberfeldy 12, The Aberfeldy 16, and the Aberfeldy 21. We also have an Exceptional Cask series and another offering that’s finished in red wine barrels.”
Peterson, who showed off Aberfeldy’s wares at a recent Whiskies Of The World event in Washington, D.C. that I attended, reminded me that I enjoyed an Aberfeldy 18 French Red Wine Cask Series pour, and I can admit this is precisely when my interest in whisky piqued. By far one of the most fantastic sips of any spirit I’ve had in years.
The “Golden Hour” event was tailored as a Father’s Day outing where two guests are treated to neat pours of Aberfeldy 12 and a pair of cocktails using the spirit as its base. Aberfeldy gained its nickname, “The Golden Dram” for good reason as its distilled in the Scottish Highlands using water from the Pitilie Burn which has tiny gold deposits throughout.
“The Highlands is one particular region where Scotch is produced, the Lowlands is another,” Peterson shared. “Islay and Speyside are others you’ll see on shelves. All of them have their particular flavor profiles. Speyside has the highest number of distilleries and in the Bacardi portfolio, we have Craigellachie and Aultmore. The rest of the brands all hail from the Highlands, which includes Royal Brackla and Deveron.”
Peterson explained that Thomas “Tommy” Dewar and John Alexander Dewar built the Aberfeldy distillery in the town of the same name as a tribute to their father who was raised down the road and founded the popular Dewar’s whisky brand. This directly depicts the deep history and recognition of the brand.
“I like to think of Aberfeldy being unique in several aspects because it’s a gateway to Scotch but the town is also the gateway to the Highlands,” Peterson said. “It sits at 80 proof so it’s a good segue for someone who is used to drinking bourbon or even a high-end rum.”
My first sip of Aberfeldy 12 at the event was just as Peterson framed it. While gin remains my favorite spirit (I can hear the groans through the screen), I primarily consume bourbon and rum these days. Considering what I typically drink, Aberfeldy 12 is just as Peterson captured in flavor — sweet, fruity, balanced, short but detailed finish with all the notes of honey and even a touch of green apple. Aberfeldy had a new fan in me after just one sip.
The “Golden Hour” highlighted perhaps my favorite cocktail of the year in the Nightcap. The Nightcap is served at St. James, a new Caribbean-influenced restaurant in Washington, D.C. The cocktail features Aberfeldy 12 as its base with St. James Jamaican coffee liqueur and Averna amaro making up the rest. Absolutely outstanding cocktail here.
While I try to keep the topic of diversity front and center in all the work I do in this space, it is beyond exhausting to see a lack of Black and African-American faces at conferences, events, and even cocktail bars. Peterson explained that working with Bacardi affords him an opportunity to create a pathway for underserved communities and the like.
“The beauty of being at Bacardi is the emphasis and focus on making certain our brands reach as diverse an audience as possible,” Peterson said. “As it relates to single malt, we’re looking for consumers who want something different. And if anything is true in the Black community, we’re searching for new experiences too but we also have our comfort zones. But I’m not at these events as just a face. I’m there to educate consumers primarily, and Bacardi empowered me as an ambassador to speak to not only my community but to all who have a curiosity about the brands.”
We’ll drink to that.
To learn more about Aberfeldy and its amazing single malt expressions, click here.
As always, sip safely, and surely!
CORRECTION: We added the proper designation for the Aberfeldy 18. We apologize for any confusion.
Photo: D.L. Chandler/Urban One, Inc.