Aberlour A’Bunadh was the first malt that won me over when I started my whisky journey in 2011. My youthful enthusiasm led me to load up on bottles, and when batch numbers exceeded my age I decided to save them to open when I turned that age. Of course, with several batches released per year, and my breadth of experience increasing (and so my A’Bunadh intake decreasing), I soon had close to 20 unopened bottles in my collection. I stopped collecting (at least one of) each batch in 2016 (next year’s batch 54) and decided to collect only milestone bottles. I last bought a bottle in 2019 - batch 65, and have another 12 years before that one gets opened. I may or may not pick up a batch 75 or 80 and that will probably be it for me.
Traditional A’Bunadh is a sherry monster. A cask strength kick in the palate. When it’s at its best it is a fabulous dram. I’ve tasted from 15 different batches, and only two have been disappointing.
This bottle was bought in 2015, and opened last April for my 53rd birthday. It’s still 80% full, gassed after each pour. Today I will examine it head to head with my first bottle of the A’Bunadh Alba, which will be reviewed in my next post.
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.
Sweet, dark dried fruits (think raisins and prunes), some baking spices in the background. Some cherries and a little cola. Very typical “A’Bunadh” nose.
Water increases the amplitude of the nose but does not change its character. (21.5/25)
Sweet arrival. Very rich, dark flavours. Coffee, toffee, leather, dark fruits, cinnamon, vanilla. Lots to unpack here. Nice palate.
As with many batches of this expression, as I have noticed, adding water initially makes it bitter and hotter, but with time it settles down, similar to what it is neat but just a little more energetic. (22.5/25)
Slightly astringent in the finish with black pepper. Water dampens the pepper a little.
The flavours are well balanced here. The nose is a little tame compared to the palate but they are congruent.
Score: Neat - 86/100 With Water: 87/100
This is a solid batch of A’Bunadh. I am rarely disappointed by this expression, and while it may be too ubiquitous to be a special treat for connoisseurs, I suspect it will always be a valued part of my cabinet.
When I compare it to the Alba, it’s no contest. This one has more richness and complexity.
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.