There is just so many wonderful whiskies out there and 21 year old bottlings are not that difficult to find either. Not too long ago, I had a chance to do a horizontal tasting (same year, different distilleries) of some of the best single malts of highland and speyside regions. Time to revisit the feeling of being 21-year-old again!
The Balvenie Port Wood 21yo
Highland Park 21yo
Aberfeldy 21 Bottling Note
Dalmore 21 Bottling NoteThe Dalmore Distillery has been producing exceptional single malt whisky since 1839. This bottle is a Gold Medal winning single malt from the highlands. It is a sherry oak matured whisky and the bottling now has been discontinued.
Balvenie Port Wood 21 Bottling Note
Highland Park 21 Bottling Note
Aberfeldy 21 Tasting Note
Nose: Honey, fruity. Thick malt, enlivened by a fresh, zesty quality.
Palate: Smooth, vanilla, undulating, refined smoke.
Finish: Gentle finish with perhaps some ripe white peach notes and a good wave of honey.
Dalmore 21 Tasting Note
Nose: Fresh, rich and complex, sherry, smoke, with aromas of dried apricots, peaches and nutmeg.
Palate: Sweet and malty, berries, chocolate and caramel.
Finish: Smoky, fruity, some caramel.
Balvenie Port Wood 21 Tasting Note
Nose: Elegant. White peach and a faint puff of smoke.
Palate: Surprisingly delicate. Abounding, yet fine. It has a sublime mouth feel with red fruit, an edge of white grape and a very floral honey.
Finish: Cocoa, slightly bitter as it tails away gracefully.
Highland Park 21 Tasting Note
Palate: Rich and full-bodied in the mouth, it is quite smooth and elegant, with hints of caramel, stewed fruits and chocolate, plus some peaty notes.
Finish: Long and sophisticated, with malt, smoke, and a little oaky.
Then, I was asked by my friend to rate the whiskies from my most preferred to the least preferred. After all, this is all about my personal tastes and thus I have no qualms to choose my favourite bottle unless someone plans to sue me for not choosing their bottle as the preferred choice! Lol...
I would rate Balvenie as my most preferred due to it's elegance and delicate notes. Next, I would prefer Highland Park. Let's put it this way - they rarely put a foot wrong and this expression of 21yo is indeed lovely. The third bottle would be Aberfeldy because it is a well-mannered, gentle and heather-honeyed whisky where people who doesn't like whisky would find that they might like this one. Too bad I hated the rather squat and ugly bottle! My least favorite would be Dalmore as I find it less expressive compared to the rest.
Balvenie > Highland Park > Aberfeldy > Dalmore
Seriously, if you're into whisky, the best way is to have a group of friends to conduct a horizontal or vertical tasting so that you can have a few whiskies side by side to see which ones you actually like. At least through this way, I have found my favourite bottle for 21-year-old whiskies! Brilliant!