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I found myself with an older batch of the wonderful a'bunadh, this one being batch 39. Let's do a side-by-side with batch 49 (which I had scored a 91 about 11 months ago). The 39 is a freshly opened bottle.
The colour is a dark reddish copper. On the nose, damp tobacco, rum-raisin, medium dark chocolate, blood orange, black cherry, cloves and apple-cinnamon. Water brings out malt, wet grass and more cinnamon. Beautiful sherry casks here. Classic a'bunadh.
The nose is reflected by the palate, with deep rich sherry notes, more cloves, bitter tobacco leaves and big alcohol heat. A hint of black liquorice. Rich, spicy and full of character. Water makes it even spicier but tames the alcohol (it becomes maltier as well - bringing the beauty of the spirt forward from the cask). Again - a classic.
The finish is dry and long with cayenne, wood smoke, more black cherry and strong baking spices (think Angostura bitters). This is one of the best a'bunadhs I've ever had - almost flawless (the nose could be a bit more powerful, and the finish is just a touch too spicy). Still, this is incredible. Jim Murray also scores this a 94, for once he's spot on. And compared to the 49 (which is 60.1%)? The 49 is a hair darker, has a slightly flatter nose but the palate is just as much of a wow (maybe a bit more malt and less bitter). I'd still give it a 91 or thereabouts. But c'mon, they're both amazing!