Full disclosure: I’ve noticed that the previous Aberlour-related reviews on this blog are some of the most popular articles that I have written to date, so I thought that it was time for me to add another one to the Aberlour stable.
Ahh Aberlour, a distillery which polarises my opinion quite a bit. Readers of my previous articles regarding the distillery would know that I’m not a big fan of their 10 Years Old expression (which I found rather lightweight and lacking in the flavour department).
However, readers would also know that I am a fan of the 12 Years Old Double Cask Matured expression (which I recently sampled again at the offices of Pernod Ricard Singapore and enjoyed) as well as the highly celebrated A’Bunadh batch releases.
I tend to find the core age-statement releases not as exciting as the A’Bunadh, although that could be due to my affinity for sherry-matured whiskies such as the latter whereas the former is a mix of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks (nothing wrong with that, just doesn’t capture the imagination and palate as much I reckon).
Having tried the A’Bunadh Batch #50 (the standardbearer for the recent releases and universally agreed upon as being one of the best in a while apart from the Batch #47), Batch #51 (relatively good but with a surprising bitterness towards the end which may put some people off), Batch #52 (sweet and enticing but rather unbalanced), I believe that I have a relatively good idea as to what the distillery is trying to achieve with the expression.
Which brings us to the subject of this review: Aberlour A’Bunadh Batch #53. I shall not say much about this bottle before delving into the review, but I would definitely recommend that this be picked up from bottle shops or Duty Free (quite happy to see that Changi Airport actually stocks it on a regular basis these days).
With that being said, let’s jump right into the review!
Aberlour A’Bunadh Batch #53 (59.7% abv)
NOTE: Pour this into your desired glass and leave it for at least 10 minutes in order to open up and mellow out. Definitely worth it and you wouldn’t even need water!
Nose: Initial entry presents a wonderful aroma reminiscent of prunes and rich sherry. Demerara sugar, a noticeable but not invasive amount of alcohol and wood varnish emerge just after.
Wood spices (cinnamon, nutmeg) and a good measure of oakiness are also present in this dram, giving it a very similar nosing profile to that of the sensational Batch #50 expression. Faint traces of sulphur and whisps of smoke round off a very enticing nosing experience. (23/25)
Palate: Sweet, rich sherry and a subtle hint of alcohol burn are the first things one would encounter upon initial entry. With time, some of the wood varnish and demerara sugar emerges but the former is more apparent on the palate than on the nose while the opposite could be said of the latter.
Winey notes coupled with the wood spices from the nose emerge after some time and there is a noticeable but relatively enjoyable amount of heat in this one. Definitely doesn’t need water if left to open up on its own for at least 10 minutes and very pleasant. (21/25)
Finish: Medium to long finish with the rich sherried notes staging a nice interplay with the demerara sugar, which has finally shown up to the party. There’s just a faint hint of oakiness and wood spices and the alcohol burn has long since faded away.
Mouthfeel is oily with just a bit of dryness towards the end, which bodes well for this dram. (21/25)
Balance: Ahh, much better balance than what was displayed in the previous batch! I actually enjoyed this dram and it definitely can give the Batch #50 a run for its money
(although the Batch #50 will still come up tops on the basis of its all round brilliance).
Definitely doesn’t need water if left to its own devices for at least 10 minutes, but for those who are unable to wait, a teaspoon of water will suffice. The impressive nose sets this up nicely but the palate and finish fall just short of it.
That being said, a very good dram indeed. (22/25)
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to sherried whisky lovers as it showcases most if not all of the good points that an A’Bunadh should have. It would be interesting to see how this one tastes when watered down to 40% abv (sounds sacrilegious I know, but interesting nonetheless) and that is something that I intend to explore in the near future.
Aberlour A’Bunadh Batch #53 is available at Changi Airport Duty Free shops for approximately SG$91 and at specialty bottle shops for anywhere up to SG$160 (yes alcohol is generally bloody expensive in Singapore, hence the wide price margins).
For those who regularly purchase whiskies from Master of Malt or The Whisky Exchange, click on the highlighted links above for more information on the bottling as well as prices (Master of Malt is £6 cheaper btw, so you know what to do).
Until the next post, have a wonderful week ahead.