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Aberlour A’Bunadh is a powerhouse sherry monster and has been among my favourites since I first started learning about and tasting whisky in 2011. Since 2013 I’ve been opening a batch to match my age.
When I first started drinking whisky my friends and I would go through a bottle in less than a year, but as my horizons have widened and my friends have spread out across Canada, my consumption of A’Bunadh has narrowed, and in January, when I finally had occasion to open batch 47 (9 months after my birthday), I still had a significant amount of the 46 from (now almost) 2 years ago. The only solution was to review them head to head.
This bottle was opened in late April or early May 2015, was 1/6 full, and gassed after each opening. It is reviewed 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. After the review I mixed the remaining volumes together (~50:50) to produce batch 46.5.
Neat – spirity, muted, some prune, sherry. Some dust. Some vanilla syrup in the background. With time the Sherry fades, and it’s a little “stale”. 20.5/25
With water - Some of the freshness returns, the sherry fades a little. A little nicer. (21.5/25)
Neat – A little spirity, sweet, sherry, some chocolate. Hint of menthol. A little thinner than the 47. 21.5/25
With water – A bit richer. More sherry. Menthol through the development. A little more pleasant to sip. (22/25)
Finish: Sweet, medium long, pleasant. 22/25 – A little drier on the finish with a slight sourness near (as @Victor calls it) the death. (21.5/25)
Balance: Pretty good balance, though the nose is a little “off”. 21.5/25 with water (22/25)
Score: Neat - 85.5/100 With Water: 87/100
Adjusted score based on enjoyment: 87/100
Mixing both batches together:
The nose is a little different than either of them individually. A little sharper than the 47 but deeper and more rich, and less spirity than the 46. The menthol comes through a little stronger on the palate, as does the chocolate, and if I were blinded to the label I might confuse this for a Benromach 100/10. Definitely delicious, not better or worse, I would give this a score of 88-89.
Batch 46 is not bad, and I certainly enjoy it more than the 36 or even the 38, but it tastes a little younger and harsher than some of my favourite batches, including the 47 that it went H2H against.