Aberlour A’Bunadh is one of the whiskies that drew me to this hobby in 2011, and which I continue to enjoy to this day. It is one of the sherry bombs that has endured throughout my interest in spirits. Aberlour is well known for its sherry cask maturation. Three of four years ago, Aberlour began releasing a different kind of A’Bunadh… the Alba.
Alba is NAS and bottled in batches at cask strength, just like its older sibling. But instead of sherry casks, the spirit sleeps in first fill ex-bourbon casks. So while they share the same name, these whiskies should be very different.
This bottle was opened on May 11, 22, has been gassed with each use, and is about 80% full. This expression is reviewed in a standard Glencairn, in my usual manner, allowing it to settle after which I take my nosing and tasting notes, followed by the addition of a few drops of water, waiting, then nosing and tasting.
Mild nose at first. A little spicy, green fruits (apple), some syrupy notes, perhaps some baking spices. Smells a little “young” with some roughness I attribute to the alcohol.
With water the green fruits jump out more, supported by light syrup. The nose itself is a little more energetic. (21.5/25)
Quite spirity on first sip. It is sweet, with lots of vanilla and baking spices in the development. I get only a hint of the fruitiness of the nose.
Water makes the first sip a bit more bitter (but not unpleasantly so). The fruits are much more prominent. (22/25)
The fruitiness is more prominent in the finish, followed by some pepper. Slightly astringent. The finish is fairly long.
Water shortens the finish a little, with a bracing effervescence on the tongue. (21/25)
It is not very complex. I think I would prefer a little more of the green fruits in the palate. Water helps this one tremendously. (21/25)
Score: Neat - 82/100 With Water: 85.5/100
This is a solid whisky, no doubt supported by its lack of dilution (being at CS). But is has not had the time in the cask to become complex. It would be interesting to see what this would be like at 15 or 18 years of age.
Compared to the standard A’Bunadh, this one is less rich and less complex. While the latter will always have a place in my cabinet, I think, at least for now, this one will be a happy experiment with no plans to replace when it’s gone. Of course, this bottle will be around for a long time, and who knows what my thoughts will be when I pour the last dram many years down the road.
Of course, when comparing two whiskies from the same distillery, it is only natural to combine the two, let them sit, and see what happens. On first taste, it’s a hot mess. As expected the sherry-matured expression dominates. The bitterness of the Alba also comes through. Not bad, but I think I would prefer to enjoy them separately.