Let’s check out another batch of Aberlour a’bunadh.
This whisky is always a pleasure to revisit. That’s sorta why we come back to it every few months or so. Well…that and because many folks out there tend to petition the blogs and such for updates on current batches in order to determine whether they’re up to snuff against previous releases, or if they should wait a few months for the next batch. On that front, we may as well all share the good word, right?
While I don’t pick up every every release of this cask strength behemoth, I do nab one out of every three or four perhaps. Let’s face it…these are very much just variations on a narrow theme. Some a tick or two better…some a tick or two worse. I’ve yet to run across one that I outright didn’t like, but I will concede that there has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride between shimmeringly beautiful and merely mediocre.
You’d think that would be a complaint, right? Batch variation is a source of considerable frustration for some. The thing is…that sort of batch variation is part of what makes a’bunadh so much fun for me. It kinda reminds me of being a young’un and buying trading cards. I was always happy with whatever I got when I tore into the foil (or waxed wrapper), but if there happened to be a superstar card or a ‘last piece of the puzzle’ number in there I’d be tickled pink. A’bunadh can have that same thrill when the cork is popped. It’s always a bit of a crapshoot.
Once more – though we’ve done this several times by now – a’bunadh is Gaelic for ‘origin’. As in, this whisky is taken back to it’s old school purest form of origination. Barrel strength, non-chill filtered, non-colored. It’s bold. It’s big. And it is an instant love for many. It’s not hard to see why as soon as you nose your first dram.
A final note: Unlike some out there reviewing spirits for masses, I utterly refuse to believe that packaging or appearance has any place in scoring. To keep it as honest as possible, all that should ever really count are the flavours and aromas in the glass vessel. Even so, I have to concede an appreciation for good presentation, and this malt has to be the most aesthetically appealing malt on the market in my humble opinion. I adore the squat bottle with the red wax seal.
Let’s check out Batch 41…
Nose: A big fruity, sherry monster, of course. Cinnamon. Mincemeat and maraschino. A touch of mint. Figgy. Tobacco in a leather pouch. Pepper. Kinda meaty and nutty. Dry bitter cacao. Deep dark cherry and jammy fruit notes. Kinda wine-ier than expected. Just the faintest afterthought of sulphur (took me a while to be certain that’s what the more astringent characteristic was). Decent. Not great.
Palate: Melted chocolate immediately coats the palate. Damp woody notes. Purple fruits, fruit skins and grape jammy flavours. More chocolate (as if poured over fruits). Raisin and some figgy dryness. Finding this one more on the savoury side than the sweet side. Palate is not up to the challenge of the nose.
Thoughts: I hate to say it, but…a rather middling batch of one of my favorite young malts. It doesn’t carry the depths of sweet fruits that have characterized the best of the a’bunadh batches. In all fairness, though…even average a’bunadh is still a treat. I’m not sure there is a more ‘go-to’ affordable malt in my house at any given time. Any night I’m not particularly leaning to one malt or another, I always seem to reach for this one.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt