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Aberlour A'bunadh

Battle of the Batches!

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@markjedi1Review by @markjedi1

15th Nov 2011


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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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

Average 86

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whiskyfacile commented

Wow, that was an interesting review! I tried a few different batches but I just have a bottle of 30, so that's the one I know better: and I definitely agree with you on the fact that -in some way- it's a little too extreme... Anyway, congrats for your review - must have been quite ponderous and demanding to compare them all in line!

12 years ago 0

markjedi1 commented

Ponderous? Sure. Demanding? Hell yeah. But sooooo much fun :-) Thanks for your kind words.

12 years ago 0

jwise commented

I stood by Macallan Cask Srength for so long, but I really am an A'Bunadh kind of guy. I've been sipping on No. 18 for a while now, with another in the cabinet. They are so different, in slight and subtle ways.

12 years ago 0

Pudge72 commented

Another awesome review! Very interesting to read the various profiles of the various batches in order to get a broad idea of the potential in a given Abunadh batch. Just out of curiousity to anyone out there, of the batches from 32 onwards, which one would people recommend? Sorry for the overly general question...

12 years ago 0

smokeybarrels commented

@Pudge72 have only had batch 36 but I was blown away by it. It is a truly exceptional whisky. I get a rosy glow just thinking about it..

12 years ago 0

mattberg commented

Great detailed review, I've tried several batches of Abunadh this year from 30 thru to 36, 37 is now available... 30 and 31 were different and complex in their own way and excellent.. I've had three bottles of 32, two were good one was unbalanced with too much alcohol, 34 was superb with a rich, floral and christmas cake complexity... possibly the best one along with 31... Batch 35 was different again, earthier more diesel on the nose with a bitter raisin kick... strange but there you go... I'm into my third of batch 36 and they're all the same, cinnamon laced with licorice and spice.

I have found that decanting into half bottles really opens up the dram, never take mine with water... onto 37 soon..

12 years ago 0

systemdown commented

Great stuff, I like the sound of batch #19. I will open up my batch #17 in a couple of months when the weather gets a little cooler and will duly post a review - hoping for something close to the #19! I've had that bottle for 5 or 6 years so probably time to do something about it..

11 years ago 0

Wills commented

I really enjoyed reading this review, thx Mark!

11 years ago 0

FMichael commented

Awesome review!

Have you tried any of the recent batches?

11 years ago 0

WHSKYLVR commented

I've had the 36 and the 37, they are both fantastic whiskies! Couldn't tell you how they compare to the earlier batches though.

But, for me the taste profile really reminds me of a good rum. Sweet, some coconut and raisins (sultanas). It reminded me of the Rum Cask Finished whiskies that were popping up a while back. It's also a bit spicy. Just like markjedi1 says, I don't cut this one with water either...I found it brought out more of a sulfur taste while muting the sweetness.

Solid stuff here, it is my go-to for recommending to those that like sweet sips.

10 years ago 0

Jules commented

I just got a bottle of batch#45 and while I haven't tasted any older batches to compare it to... great scott this is good Scotch! Pure sherried sweetness straight out of the cask, yet still complex enough to be an interesting whisky.

Water opens it up and brings out the floral, strawberry notes, but if neat leave it to breathe for 15mins and it is very drinkable for a cask strength.

I've heard that #45 has the edge on the few batches that precede it... but can't comment as this is my first Aberlour.

Was considering hunting down a bottle of the Macallan CS on my next passage through the airport - is that as good..?

10 years ago 0

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