Aberlour is one of those whiskies that has not held much of my attention up until quite recently. I believe this disdain for the whisky stems from my initial experience with the brand back in 2012.
Having purchased a bottle of Aberlour 10 Years on a whim from Costco, I didn’t know what to expect as I had not done much research on the brand or that particular expression. While the 10 Years was a fairly decent whisky, it failed to capture my attention in a way which made me feel that the brand warranted a second look.
I now realise the folly of my ways.
While I have seen the 12 and 18 Year expressions at Duty Free with increasing regularity, my stubborn nature prevented me from purchasing a bottle of it as I felt that my money was better utilised on a bottle of either Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Ardbeg, Jura, Glenfarclas or Caol Ila (and for the most part is has proven to be as such).
However, I endeavoured to widen my horizons further and the last year or so has been spent trying as many different expressions from as many distilleries as I could possibly go for. And this inevitably brought Aberlour back within my focus.
The difference now was that I was better informed of the brand and the expressions, which piqued my curiosity in the process. However, the one expression which I kept hearing great things about was the A’Bunadh.
This made me wonder: Could the A’Bunadh be as good as my peers were saying it was? And also: Could a No Age Statement (NAS) whisky such as the A’Bunadh stack up to the established age-statemented whiskies out there?
The answer, was an unequivocal YES.
An interesting point to note would be that Aberlour is the best selling Scotch in France. If a whisky can sell as well as Aberlour in a wine hub such as France, it probably means that the whisky in question is seen to be complementary to the preferences and palate of the people who purchase and enjoy it on a regular basis.
Needless to say, a Scotch selling in excess of a million bottles per annum in France is definitely something not to be sniffed at. Taking this into consideration, I decided to hunt in earnest for a dram of the A’Bunadh while also endeavouring to add a bottle of it to my collection. While I have yet to fulfill the latter, the former was fulfilled a few weeks ago during one of my many visits to one of my favourite cities in the world: Melbourne.
I was at a nondescript bar whose name I can’t remember for the life of me and spied a bottle of the A’Bunadh on the shelf. I asked the bartender if I could have a look at it and noted that it was a Batch 50 expression that was bottled at a cask strength ABV of 59.6%
I quickly placed an order for a dram of it and paid a fairly reasonable AU$15 for it. All the while I was thinking to myself: I really hope that this whisky is worthy of the hype.
Aberlour A’Bunadh (Batch 50, Cask strength, 59.6% abv)
Colour: Deep red
Nose: Amazing sherried sweetness is the first thing you encounter, which hints at the quality of the Oloroso sherry casks used in the maturation process. The alcohol creeps up your nose, hinting at the potency of this cask strength creation. Redcurrants, raisins and some stewed fruits are dominant on the nose, with some of the characteristic nutmeg and allspice notes appearing midway through. Just a hint of woody tannins towards the end.
Palate: A bonafide sherry bomb, this! The quality of the Oloroso sherry casks which was hinted in the nose is fully apparent on the palate, shining through with an amazing level of sherried sweetness. The cask strength alcohol burn is also apparent just below the sherried notes, once again hinting at the cask strength nature of this sherried beast. Warming spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and just a hint of black pepper make an appearance mid-palate and take control of the proceedings. Velvety smooth texture with an oily mouthfeel.
Finish: Long and lingering finish, with the spices from the palate and the sherried sweetness battling for control. Warming and more-ish whisky with a wonderful intensity.
It took a long while for me to get to this whisky, but it is simply brilliant stuff and I’m glad that I have finally tried it!. Such a fantastic whisky deserves more plaudits and I am definitely looking forward to acquiring a bottle of this for my collection as well as another for casual drinking purposes.
I would definitely highly recommend this whisky to everyone as it is worth savouring. Well worth the outlay and probably one of the benchmarks for how great NAS whiskies should be crafted.
4 thoughts on “Whisky Review #11: Aberlour A’Bunadh (Batch #50)”
What’s this – a non-Islay whisky review!!! Great choice, though! The A’bunadh is indeed an imoressive drop – and possibly the first cask strength I had tried. While I still probably prefer the Glenfarclas 105, this is still up there, and worthy of the title sherry monster!
Keep on waffling,
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Cheers Nick! I decided to mix things up and serve up a few non-Islay reviews (before eventually returning to the status quo heh).
The 105 is a bloody good dram and I definitely understand your preference, but I reckon that the A’Bunadh would complement the 105 (especially if the theme was cask strength sherry bombs!)
Definitely looking to get a bottle of both whiskies in the hopefully near future and I strongly suggest that you stock up on Glenfarclas bottlings with age statements (heard from a reputable source that it will be phased out sooner rather than later).
I’ve found Batch 51 to be an absolute gem. My favorite dram to date. Must try toe 105 though it seems. 😀
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Batch 51 was good as well, but had a slightly burnt character at the very end of the finish which gave it a bit of a bitter edge (but that’s just me haha).
Have tried the Batch #52 and Batch #53 as well and I reckon the 53 is the closest to the 50 in terms of quality (and the ABV is only 0.1% off too!).
Defs go for the 105 mate, quality dram and I reckon you’ll enjoy it!