Aberlour a’bunadh (Batch 28) Review

Aberlour a’bunadh (Batch 28)

59.7% abv

Score:  92/100


Presentation is so much of the product nowadays.  I admit it, though I may preach otherwise, in the end I’m no better than anyone else.  I still occasionally get suckered in by flashy packaging.  In this case?  A beautiful deep red amber liquid in a wide stubby bottle with a badass old school wax seal.  Absolutely awesome.

“a’bunadh” – Gaelic for “original” or “origin”.

This massive Speysider is Aberlour’s take at replicating the style of whisky predominant in times of yore.  Un-chill-filtered…no age statement…straight outta the cask (59.7%!!).  Hence…’the origin’.

This particular bottle (which I am sipping from and reviewing) is from Batch 28.  Yes…indeed there were 27 previous batches (and another double fistful since), each exhibiting a slightly different character.  Though not single cask, these are single batch.  Aberlour selects a handful of casks to marry which they believe will most closely retain the character set forth in the a’bunadh tradition.

This whisky is so much more than simply a young  Aberlour on steroids.  It is huge and almost overwhelming.  Full of character and aggression.  It is heavy, complex and absolutely magnificent.  On the nose…big and bold rich caramel and sweet (Oloroso?) sherry notes.  Maybe even suggestions of cognac.  Creamy vanilla, cocoa and burnt sugar (not a bad thing) right out front with black cherry, raisin, sweet orange, and spice making up the body of this whisky.  On both the nose and palate there is a very definite rum characteristic.

The huge warmth that blankets the mouth is viscous and syrupy.  There is something dark and earthy sweet here as well.  All of those fruity/rummy/sherry and fruitcake notes open right up.  As it slowly expands and colonizes the far corners of the palate, that earthiness takes a bit of a back seat to raisin, demerara and dried fruit.  The finish is long and warm (to be expected), with a nice thick coating that lingers on and on.  There is a deep dark complexity that will leave you pondering this one well after the glass is empty.

This particular batch is, quite frankly, astounding.  I’ve had many of the others, but none approached the flawless sherry casking here.  Thankfully I managed to find a couple of dusty bottles in some local ma-and-pa shops.  Two more bottles for future years.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

21 thoughts on “Aberlour a’bunadh (Batch 28) Review

  1. David

    I went into a liquor store in Halifax to get some beer for a friend (he’s in his 30s – so it was nothing illegal – he just didn’t have access). I happened to go over to the Scotch section, just to have a look. I was surprised to see a single bottle of 28 among more recent bottles. I had not seen any reviews at that time, but bought it because I didn’t have one.

    Now that I’ve read reviews of the 28, I reflect on how it’s a good thing that there was only one there….. Otherwise I migh eternally regret picking up just one!

    Definitely will hold on to it until I’ve had a chance to try a few others, then we’ll have a special treat.

    Can’t wait to see some reviews of the 30s, which are dominant in my Aberlour “collection”. I finally finished a bottle of the 33, which I quite enjoyed, with friends, over a year and a half…

  2. David

    Opened a batch 38 last month and a 32 this week. The 38 was a little young and rough, disappointing for an A’Bunadh. The 32 was a lot closer in quality to the 33.

    Douglas Adams fans will appreciate my search for batch 42, which I’m afraid may not make its way to Canada. I managed to find it available for sale at Master of Malt in the UK, and if it makes it through US customs, I’ve arranged for a shipment to friend in the states. I can then get one bottle (I also ordered a Bladnoch and a new Springbank expression) every time he visits.

    1. Phil

      I am about half way through a bottle of Batch 32 – it is phenomenal. My brother-in-law has Batch 35, which is also phenomenal. Batch 39 was a huge disappointment, unfortunately.

    2. Maestro

      Don’t know if you’re a Toronto lad, but there is a single Batch 42 left at the LCBO @ Bloor and Royal York. Saw it there today, searching for the Glenfarclas 15 they supposedly had. Sadly it is no where to be found.

      1. David

        Indeed I happen to be in Toronto at this time. If I can at all make it I will rush to that site tomorrow. When I was last there they only had 39s I think. Maybe I should check other stores as well.

        In other news, my first Cask Strength 10 1/2 year sherry cask Bladnoch arrived today. Two more 55% 10 Year olds to come. Between the three bottles (averaging about 56% between them) and the shipping (to the US), the average price per bottle is still less than the Independent G&M 43% offering that the LCBO has, at $140!!!!

      2. David

        Thank you Maestro! Success!!!

        I didn’t have time to go out to Royal York but I tried a larger store in North Toronto. Nestled in between a half dozen 39s were 2 42s! So I now have the prize. No more Whisky buying until I drink some of my stock….

        Say, has anyone tried the 42? Is it truly the answer to life, the universe and everything?

        1. Maestro

          Bangarang! Good news. Glad you had better success than I did recently. I’ll say that the Glenfarclas ‘105’ I did manage to get was absolutely spectacular though (even better than the a’Bunadh Batch 39, imho). That is, if you love dark chocolate covered maraschino cherries as I do.

  3. david

    CURSES!!!! I now hear from Master of Malt that they are out of the 42! Oh the drama over a dram!

    I hope that they will get more but as I see 44 is for sale I’m not holding out much hope.

    On the bright side, my Whisky exchange order made it to my friend’s Florida home without any customs problems and he’ll be bringing it this weekend. Springbank Rundlets and Kilderkins (as per Ralfy recommendation) and a couple of samples of peated scotch.

    This means that anyone who has access to a delivery address in Florida can access UK online shops.

    And that means that we now have a way of getting small quantities of Bladnoch to North America without flying to the UK!

    That calls for a dram!

  4. David

    Batch 44…..

    Did I really need another bottle of A’Bunadh? I have like a dozen bottles (11 different batches). Given my backlog of other Scotch and whiskies, did I really need another bottle of anything?

    But I just turned 44, and it occurred to me that this is the first time since I started drinking whisky that there would be a bottle of this single malt that matched my age on my birthday. And unless I continue buying batches as they are released (and what guarantee is there that the right ones will be released here?), it may be the last. So I did it. And tomorrow at the 8th(ish) and potentially last meeting of the Ruskin Whisky Tasting Society, the bottle will be opened to mark this congruence.

    Will I do this next year? Not sure I cam afford to keep it up, given the up-front costs and storage issues as the batch numbers go up so much faster than my age does but maybe I’ll look out for the special ages like 50, 60, and plan ahead. Or I could move to Calgary where it’s that much cheaper…

    1. Robert

      Rally recently panned the 40 while saying the 42 was good. I have an unopenned 40 and can buy 41, 42 and 44. Any input on any of these?

      1. ATW Post author

        Even the worst a’bunadh is usually much, much better than most other comparable malts. I have a couple other batches to review at some point. Seems to be much lined up before them though. Watch for reviews of Ardbeg Lord Of The Isles, Brora 30 2005 ed, Ardbeg 17, Glendronach 1972 Cask 718, Glenfarclas 40, Dalmore 40, Laphroaig 21, Hazelburn 12, GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 1 and more coming soon.

      2. David

        We opened the 44 today and it was generally well-received, even by the peat heads among us. We rank on an A-D scale and it was generally A to A”half plus”. Two or three compared it to my open 32 and preferred it. I would definitely not refuse a dram. Still like th 33 best of all the ones I tasted, but that was early in my career.

        I would recommend the 42 based on Douglas Adams. I mentioned this to Ralfy, also the fact that the 42 was an inversion of the 24 he sampled earlier (he inaccurately called it th 18) and h acknowledged the coincidence.

        At one point I returned to the room after stepping out to prepare the next round (Amrut IS which did not taste he same as I remember it from December – must be the Calgary air) I was presented with a bottle of Glenrothes 1998 vintage by the rest of the group. It was very touching, I wasn’t expecting anything. We will put it on the agenda for the next meeting. Because there is a chance that up to 4 of the core group (80%) will be out of town next year, our next meeting may be the last for a while, unless we can coordinate holidays…

  5. David

    I was reading an A’Bunadh discussion thread today and got thinking…. What happened to 43?

    There are comments on the 42, 44, and now I’m starting to see the 45 on sale in the uk, but not a word on 43.

    Wikipedia has a list of the years and ABV of all the batches, and they skip it. Google search…nada.

    Anyone have any ideas? I don’t need to buy one but my curiosity is piqued…..

    1. David

      I got an answer from someone at Pernot-Ricard. Apparently the batch 43 was a small batch specially prepared and not for full release.

  6. Skeptic

    Cop-out! I would have expected better from them.

    I’m sure there are people out there who want to try every batch who will now be very disappointed…

    I remember when I was in grade school you could only have a treat if ” you brought enough to share…”

  7. Joe

    I wonder if a blog can be created on a’bunadh alone.
    I just bought batch 40 today and crossing my fingers. I’ve read comments from low negatives to high praise positives – I guess this is normal single malt discussion. It’s my first full trip with a’bunadh outside of a couple drams of either 41 or 42 – cannot remember. I bought it for my Maine trip next week – cannot wait for both. Bringing a fresh new bottle of Uigeadail and open bottle of Old Pulteney 17 too.

    1. David

      If you start a blog on A’Bunadh I will look for updates several times a day. It is up there as one of my top 3 favourite whiskies along with Bladnoch 10 ( my bottle was a little better than the 11 I’m currently nursing – well, not currently, I’m on call, but I don’t believe in doctoring Whisky…) and, well, not sure what is up there…depends on the day and the dram. But it’s up there.

      I heard the 41 was a dud, but would be curious as to what you thought. Also, how was the “answer to life the universe and everything” batch (42)? I have some but I’m saving it for a “special” time, maybe when I have a bunch of A’Bunadh AND Douglas Adams fans together.

      The 45 is out. I have one. Saving it to crack when I turn 45.

      Anyone know why only one batch has been released this year?

  8. Skeptic

    Has anyone left this stuff overnight, or for 24 hours, or longer? I left the last 5-10 cc of a dram of batch 44 from one evening to the next. Covered.

    The nose was lens prominent after the first sniff, but I found the taste preserved, richer, in fact.

  9. David

    I consider this the holy grail of A’Bunadhs, though I have not opened my bottle of 28 yet.

    But because A’Bunadh is my favourite of all the whiskies you׳be reviewed, I thougth I would use this thread as a platform to wish Curt and everyone else a happy holiday.

    Drink responsibly but drink well…..


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