At the time of writing*, ATW’s review of Aberlour a’bunadh Batch 28 is the most viewed review on the site. First thought…folks out there are looking into the right whiskies. Second thought…time to get around to writing up a few of the other batches.
Batch 28 was such a revelation (sadly I missed 23 and 26 which were said to be the measure against which others were held) that I knocked off a bottle, then hunted for a couple more to shelve for that fabled ‘rainy day’. I’ve gone out of my way to try many batches now, and those which I have access to will be reviewed. For now…Batch 21.
My jaded palate is somewhat overcritical of the a’bunadh bottlings now. When I say that, what I really mean is that the average soul out there could likely add a mark or two to most of my reviews in this line-up. This all comes down to knowing just what heights these can reach. Even the lesser bottlings are head and shoulders above the average dram out there. If you’ve not had your socks knocked off by one of these cask strength sherry bombs…get shopping.
Right off the the bat…you gotta know you’re going to get your tastebuds knocked around a bit. This is an immense and intense heavily-sherried whisky at a cask strength of no less than 59.5% abv. I’ll concede I am not generally a water-in-whisky guy (and certainly not when reviewing!), but in all fairness…this one can handle a few drops. Oft-times a sherried whisky will fall apart when water is added, but this one should be safe.
The nose carries amplified notes of densely-soaked oak, rum, caramel, sweet and sharp raisin and buckets of nutmeg and strong cinnamon. I got tantalizing hints of dark cherry and a touch of slightly over-baked hot fresh bread. Butter-drizzled bread. And finally…somehow amid this dark forest of sherry, a hint of sparkling barley still manages to peek through. Sadly…and maybe this is just me…in the tangle of all of these glorious bits and pieces I still find one or two…off…somewhat jagged notes. Just a little off-kilter, mind you. While still a great dram…this is not the best of the a’bunadh line I’ve met.
Sitting atop the aforementioned notes, I got a touch of anise and a hefty dollop of molasses on arrival. Gorgeously mouthcoating (as they all are), these flavors will cling to the backs of your teeth. The oak and a mild tartness were the hangers-on for me.
One caution. In embarassment I just want to add a brief tip. Do NOT spill this stuff. A ruined slip cover for my couch attests.
If out hunting for your first a’bunadh, and fence-sitting due to mention of batch discrepency, rest easy…these are damn fine drams. As I mentioned above…the worst a’bunadh will often kick the hell out of the best another distillery might offer.
*(over a year ago now, as of Aug 2012)
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt