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