Stephanie Macleod’s official title at Aberfeldy is “Malt Master.” But it would be more apt to think of her as an alchemist. Deep in the highlands of Scotland, she’s using creative barrel finishes to transform whisky with a certain degree of sorcery. It turns out that Macleod’s been busy experimenting with a broader corridor of the winemaking world. Today, she’s ready to share the fruits of her labor with two new additions to the Aberfeldy Red Wine Cask Collection: 15- and 18-year-old limited editions.
The 15-year-old single malt is finished in cabernet sauvignon casks out of Napa Valley, while the 18-year-old stunner is influenced by time spent in Tuscan red wine casks plucked from Bolgheri, Italy.
Footnotes on the Aberfeldy Red Wine Cask Collection
A little background: In 2019, Macleod launched the Cask Collection as a way to showcase the effect of wine-soaked cooperage upon properly matured single malt. The first offering was a limited edition 15-year-old expression, which spent time in barrels formerly belonging to red wine from Pomerol.
Since then, four subsequent releases have explored how French wines—from various crus of Bordeaux and the Rhône—could amplify Aberfeldy’s beloved honeyed topnotes. The answer was exceedingly obvious: quite well. Quite well, indeed. These new expressions are no different.
The younger variation will retail at $80, while the elder statesman is sitting on shelves at $120. Both expressions clock in at 43% ABV—or 86 proof.
“I love testing the boundaries of our patient and amiable Aberfeldy,” Macleod tells Men’s Journal. “Our beautiful spirit never complains, but finds a way to take the very best from the incredible casks we provide—with results that never disappoint.”
15 Years Old Limited Edition tasting notes
Uncork the 15 Years Old Limited Edition and you’ll recognize the same jammy aromas characterizing the big, bold cabs of Northern California. Following that fruity fragrance is a toasty-yet-spicy complexity that carries over the mid-palate in waves of cinnamon and dark roast. As these notes fade, you’re left to ponder a savory herbal edge that emerges after the sip.
18 Years Old Limited Edition tasting notes
As enticing as all that sounds, the 18 Years Old Limited Edition goes even bigger and bolder. The single malt spends time in ex-Tuscan red wine barriques. They were sourced from a region most classically revered for chianti. But it’s also the birthplace of the first “super Tuscan” wines, which have become increasingly popular in the modern era.
“After extensively exploring French wine casks with our Pomerol, Paulliac and Cote Rotie expressions, we thought why don’t we move across the continent to Italy,” explains Macleod, of the evolution of the Cask Collection series. “As soon as the casks arrived and we had the chance to nose them, I knew these casks would be perfect for Aberfeldy!”
It’s a good thing, because sending them back would have probably been a logistical nightmare. No need for that, as Macleod so eloquently asserts, the house’s signature soft honeyed notes get “enveloped in swathes of dark red berries and smooth notes of almonds.”
Maybe it’s the power of suggestion—or the strength of her sorcery—but we’re inclined to agree with the description.
This is a bottle you’ll want to snag sooner rather than later. It joins the brand’s core portfolio, which includes 12- 16- and 21-year-old single malts, for a very limited time this fall.