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Aberlour a’bunadh (Gaelic for ‘from the source’) is matured exclusively on Oloroso sherry casks and bottled at cask strenght. No chillfiltering, no tinting. There are quite a few batches out there already and almost all of them are praised. I had batch 24 about two years ago. So why not try a few more. I I thought I’d put a few batches H2H. Or should that be H5H?
- Batch 0 at 59,6% ABV (the first, unnumbered release from 1997)
- Batch 8 at 60,2% ABV
- Batch 14 at 59,5% ABV
- Batch 19 at 59,9% ABV and
- Batch 30 at 59,8% ABV.
Is it a coincidence that they get darker too? From amber, via bronze all the way to oloroso.
They are all very sherried with prunes, dades, sultanas, preserved pears, caramel and a wonderful whiff of smoke. And yet they are all different. Allow me to attribute some unique elements to each batch (which proved harder than I thought!):
- Batch 0 soft sherry and slightly soury apples; with water: caramel
- Batch 8 red berries and brown sugar; with water: candied sugar
- Batch 14 roasted nuts and vanilla; with water: caramel custard
- Batch 19 balsamico and chocolate; with water: herbal
- Batch 30 red wine and smoked meat; with water: wet stones
- Batch 0 is the good a’bunadh: very soft on primarily sherry and – I didn’t see this coming – marzipan, not at all hot and very drinkable without diluting. The most approachable of the lot, but probably also the least interesting.
- Batch 8 is the classic a’bunadh: very creamy and sweet, spicy, classic textbook oloroso, wonderful balance between dark fruit and leather, between sweet and bitter.
- Batch 14 is the sour a’bunadh: surprisingly sour, like wine vinegar. Fruity, sure, but the sour touch ruins the experience a bit for me. Pity.
- Batch 19 is the smoky a’bunadh: raisins, coffee, kirsch, coconut, balsamico and loads of chocolate. The smoke is very prominent. The most interesting of the lot.
- Batch 30 is the extreme a’bunadh: truckload of sherry influence, chocolate and even rosewater. A lot of pepper and ginger. Very much like batch 8, but more extreme. Too much, in fact, which makes this the most challenging and not my cup of tea.
It is hard comparing finishes of different batches during a head-to-head tasting of the same whisky. Suffice it to say I had a bit of an after party at my desk for quite a while. None of the finishes were short of even medium. All of them were long and longer. Phew! Yeah!
Truth is, Aberlour a’bunadh is a classic that should be in everyone’s cabinet, especially if (like me) you like sherrybombs. Today, batch 37 has already hit the shelves. But if you can still get hold of one of the older batches, go for 8 or 19. Those are sublime.
- Batch 0 85/100
- Batch 8 87/100
- Batch 14 82/100
- Batch 19 89/100
- Batch 30 86/100